Cooma Car Club's weekend of three hill climb events had just about everything - from drivers aged 14-17 to 65+, from learners to accomplished racers, from classic cars with roots back to the 1950's and '60's to up-to-the-minute turbo AWDs, some great and close competition, and one collision with the hairpin Armco barrier but not too serious.
Over two days, the event embodied everything that Mount Gladstone has come to be recognized for - a great weekend of camaraderie and grass roots motor sport.
On Saturday morning, Mitchell Burke, Cody Gould, Eric Henderson and Aiden McGuiness who are all aged between 14 and 17, took part in the 'come and try' hill climb.
The four had previously participated in the club's junior development program motorkhana in October. The program is jointly funded by the club and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).
The concept is that the young drivers learn and develop car control with an instructor in the car. The six runs were not timed, but both the instructors and officials running the event noticed how the young drivers improved over the morning, developing their ability and gaining confidence.
In the afternoon, eight drivers took to the track in their classic (over 30 years) cars along with four other drivers who completed practice runs leading up to Sunday's open event.
Two of the entered drivers cancelled which resulted in two of the morning U18 'come and try' drivers being offered a drive in the afternoon event. Cody Gould and Eric Henderson leapt at the opportunity, 'had a ball' and steadily improved over the afternoon.
Among the 'classics', the fastest time was 48.63s, recorded by Michael Patten in his Clubman, closely followed by David Wicks in his Chilli Roadster replica with 49.32s, and Daniel Matthews in his Ford Escort with a best time of 49.41s.
The open hill climb on Sunday turned out to be a cracker contested by 25 drivers in 9 classes who each had the opportunity of 6 runs.
In particular, the battle for fastest time of the day (FTD) became a classic contest between junior driver Tom Donahue in a Type 1-2 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, Gareth Rees in a Type 3 Nissan Skyline and Harry Katsanevas in a Type 3 Ford Focus RS.
Over six runs, the fastest time lead changed three times. In the first run, Gareth Rees recorded the fastest time with 44.46s, ahead of Tom with 45.44s and Harry with 45.78s. Young Tom took the lead on Run 3 with an outstanding 42.42s.
After lunch, the weather and the track warmed up and the times improved. Unfortunately, Tom grazed the final bend barrier and could not continue, giving Gareth and Harry the opportunity.
On Run 6, Harry 'cracked it' with an excellent drive and time of 42.04s, only to be pipped by .05s by Gareth five cars later. Gareth recorded an outstanding final time of 41.99s.
Open Hill Climb results
Out of a total 25 competitors, the class winners on the day were:
- Tom Ballard Type 1-2 0-1600cc Mazda MX5 best time 50.82s
- Adam Blewitt Type 1-2 1601-2000cc Mitsubishi Lancer best time 49.96s
- Bill Dengate Type1-2 over 3000cc BMW 135i best time 47.34s
- Tom Donahue (J) Type1-2 AWD/SV over 3000cc Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 best time 42.42s
- Tony Potter Type 3 1601-2000cc Nissan NXR best time 48.52s
- Luke Jeffries Type 3 over 3000cc Holden Commodore best time 46.14s
- Michael Patten Type 3 AWD/SV 0-1600cc Clubman best time 46.18s
- Gareth Rees Type 3 AWD over 3000cc Nissan Skyline best time 41.99s
- David Haines Type 4 0-1600cc Toyota Corolla Best time 48.03s
- Tom Donahue Fastest Junior trophy Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 Best time 42.42s
- Gareth Rees Fastest Time of the Day Nissan Skyline Best time 41.99s