Grass Roots Motorsport
By Philip Finger
I have been keenly interested in motor sport all my life and clearly remember rushing home from Sunday school to see the end of the Bathurst 500 as a young rev head.
Over the years I spectated at all the main circuits and hill climb tracks in Victoria including Templestowe when in my early teens. I have also personally met some of the greats including Brock, Bond, Moffat, Murray Carter, Jane and many others. Even Lou Morlino and the wily Fox Harry Firth, all I believe are icons of the golden age.
I have been a member of several Car Clubs and currently own a classic sports car. I have previously been involved in four wheel driving and motor cycles over many years but always felt I was missing out on something. Then one day while attending a Super Sprint at Sale RAAF Base in the mid 2000’s, noticed a young local fellow competing in a 1986 Corolla. I went and spoke with him after his event and to inspect the car, which was mostly standard 1600cc single cam 5 speed a bit lowered with new gas shocks all round and a fresh coat of two-pak red.
He told me he had just won his clubs championship in his class and showed me his trophy to prove it. He also said he wanted to sell the car. I told myself, self I think this is what’s missing.
A deal was done there and then for $800 and I took the Rolla home. So at the age of 55 years young I began my career in motor sport. I soon gained my 2S licence through my club and through the generosity of some good friends who supplied some tyres and a decent seat.
With the support of my family, I fronted the old Morwell Hill Climb on a wet and windy day for my first event. I survived the day and came away happy and in one piece. Many hill climbs followed so I tested the waters of some sprints at The Island and Sale RAAF Base. This was even more fun. The Victorian 6 Hour Relay came along and I was there from the start, first as a team manager and now as a driver. This is a fantastic event, well run by the most competent of management and the pinnacle in motor sport for me.
I needed to upgrade the car a bit for this event so I found some suitable alloy wheels at the wreckers ($100 for 5). I also had the correct tubing professionally bent, and my son a professional welder, and I fitted a basic roll cage. As I had by then melted the engine, purchased another road registered car for its engine for $200. So apart from normal maintenance, I have spent approximately $1350 over 8 years.
I now am having just as much fun on the track as anyone else, probably more because of the massive bang for my bucks I am getting. Any improvement is down to me as a driver not the car so I have to tune my own skills.
After every event I drop all the wheels off and have a good look over top and bottom and make any changes required myself. The biggest cost to me at the moment is entrance fees so I carefully chose the number and type of events I enter.
I am also looking forward to the day I can take my grandson to the PIARC practice days for his first ride there and later to our clubs motorkhana event for him to test the waters himself.
This is my view on Grass Roots motor sport.
Gippsland Car Club
CAMS got to know about Phill's storey at the Phillip Island 6 hour relay. Click here for a related article.