All posts by gordon_boyce

Flashback Friday – MSCA Mallala Circuit Sprints

Sprite Club of SA has always had a strong representation at MSCA Mallala Circuit Sprints

On the eve of the return to Mallala for the MSCA Supersprints after a four month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to “Flashback” and have a look at the Sprite Club’s involvement at Mallala and circuit sprinting.

Sprites and Midgets were by design always going to be used for competition. From motorkhanas, racing and circuit sprints the Sprite Club of SA has always been involved with some form of competition.

During the early days of the Sprite Club members competed at both Adelaide International Raceway and Mallala Motorsport Park. While AIR was used it had a very long straight and lots of concrete walls, the open track at Mallala was more suited to Sprites and Midgets and but was licensed only for Club events and not races.

It was originally an RAAF Air Force base and was converted to a racetrack during the early 1960’s as a replacement for the Port Wakefield circuit. During the 1970’s restrictions to prevent motorsport activities were placed on the land and circuit. When Clem Smith purchased the circuit his first task was to remove these restrictions. By the early 1980’s these were removed and the circuit re-licensed to hold major race meetings including the Australian Touring Car Championship. He also invested many dollars into the circuit surface and other infrastructure. The improvements are evident in the various photos here, showing the openness of the pits and paddock and lack of sheds, etc in the early 1980’s.

The MSCA was formed in the early 70’s to give the smaller Sports Car Clubs of South Australia the opportunity to compete at the Mallala Motorsport Park and in Motorkhanas and Hillclimbs. With only a low number of members competing from each club, the individual members joined the M.S.C.A., allowing those drivers to compete in their cars. This organisation was the association of clubs such as Bolwell, Alfa Romeo, Fiat-Lancia, MG, Austin Healey and Sprite Clubs. This association has now increased to 18 clubs with Mazda MX-5, BMW and Nissan-Datsun active member clubs. Members could join the MSCA and compete in a range of events, saving each club hiring the circuit for just a few members. Now they could have a larger number of competitors at any time and share the expenses, reducing the entry and operation costs.

The Sprite Club of SA members have been actively involved with the MSCA as both competitors, members, delegates and particularly on the organisation committee. During the past 20 years Sprite Club Life Member Sue Stephenson, supported by her family, has been the MSCA Competition Secretary and has operated the timing for these events.

The MSCA circuit sprints have grown from events of approx 20 vehicles during the 1980’s, when we parked on the side of the circuit where the pit lane is and lapped with only three vehicles on the circuit at any time.

The MSCA was instrumental in developing the Supersprint format where up to 18 vehicles can be on the track at any given time, The cars are released in pairs and can have a drag race to Turn I, from then it a race against the clock to try and obtain the fastest time. There are also awards for the most consistent driver over the Supersprint Series.

Now there is a cap of 120 entries with a diverse range of vehicles competing, from pure race cars to standard street spec vehicles. During the 1980’s the fastest time of the day was Keith Rilstone’s V8 Bolwell Nagari lapping in the 1.25’s. Todays the Clubmans are lapping in the 1.15 – 1.18’s, Dean King’s Rotary-powered Sprite has clocked times even faster!

Super Sprinting is a reasonably safe way of competing, but occasionally something may go wrong either mechanically or sometimes there may even be contact with a concrete wall.

The Sprite Club members also assist with flagging at specific events each year and it is a chance to get up close to the action and assist the running of the event,

Driver Training sessions and Come’n’Try days often form part of the current MSCA Calendar to allow new competitors the safe way to try circuit sprinting and learn driver and car control at the same time, Many junior members and wives have also been actively involved with circuit sprinting over the years, so it not just something for the guys!

As the Clubbies SA group expanded during the late 1980’s they joined the Sprite Club to gain access to the MSCA and now form a large component of the Sprite Club’s representation at the circuit sprints. Quite often these and other Sprite Club members take home numerous trophies from the end of year presentation event

Super Sprinting as a ideal way to become involved with Motorsport competition, and the MSCA Supersprints at both Mallala and now The Bend Motorsport Park, provide an opportunity for Sprite Club members to become actively involved in both the organisation and most importantly getting your vehicle on the track.

To all of the competitors who have entered for this Sunday’s event we hope you have a great day!

MSCA Supersprint Round 2 – July 26th

Good news at last – Round 2 will be running on July 26 – supp regs are now available on the MSCA web site, and entries are open via Motorsport Australia.

Note that changes have been forced upon us by Motorsport Australia because of the COVID-19 situation. Entry procedure will be a bit different – entrants will have to complete extra forms, supply copies of your MA licence & club membership cards with entries, and there will be self scrutineering. There will be no sign-in, and no drivers briefing. All forms required are available on the Supp Regs / Entry Forms tab, then the COVID-19 Related Forms link on this site. Please ensure you read the supp regs carefully.

All competitors – to reduce congestion & time taken at signing, please print & fill out the Mallala waiver form, available also on the web site under the Supp Regs / Entry Form section

Helen Stephenson the Quckest from SA. Being held up by David Low.

Sundays in the Shed

With the sun shining and a cool morning it it time once again to grab a cup of coffee and head to the shed and see what some of our members have been up to during the past few months.

Peter Stanley – Mk IIA Sprite

Peter’s Hillclimb Championship Winning Sprite has been undergoing a few updates while waiting for the Collingrove Hillclimb season to resume. Looking forward to seeing the Sprite back in action……….

As Peter states:

Not quite self isolation, but isolation from any motor sport…..
I have had the chance to refurbish the rear suspension and fit a long overdue Panhard rod. The whole exercise started out because of a broken wheel stud and just grew from there.
Maybe the old slug will behave in a more Spritely fashion. 
Hope everyone is keeping healthy

Pat Miller – Ford Special

As many members are aware Pat has been building various clubman and other style vehicles for many years and his current project is slightly different to the two clubman style vehicles he competes at Mallala.

I will let Pat continue the story:

This my Ford special being tested at Mallala by the engineering team from Motiv Engineering. I had tried to get the car registered through the hot rod association but the man at DPTI decided that the car is a clubman and therefore requires  very expensive engineering certification. No it did not pass, being the first time it had ever been driven a few gremlins showed up. The engineers did not like the feel of the brake pedal and the front suspension rubbers were too compliant. I noted a lot of things I did not like. All of the above are being rectified during the current confined to barracks situation.

The car is built on a 1948 Prefect ute chassis, boxed with new cross members. The body I built based on a 1927 Ford T. The grille, inspired by a 1937 Ford, once again hand built. The engine is the SOHC 2 liter Ford from the Anglia I used to race. It runs a mild cam, head work, Mhale pistons, steel flywheel, comp clutch, twin throat Dellorto carbs, etc,  trans is Cortina 4 speed, diff is a refugee out of a Toyota Hiace van, it has the biggest drum brakes I have ever worked on. Front axle originated in a 1940 Ford I adapted GM spindles AU Falcon brake rotors and lightweight Holden calipers. The rack and pinion steering is another Cortina refugee attached directly to the axle. On test it proved to feel too light and too slow. The steering column  was a leftover from the same Nissan Skyline that was the source of the drive train of my Irukandji Clubman. Wheels are standard pre AU Falcon 15” x  6” running 205 Yokahama  tyres. Paint is 2 pack, brightest red I could find. Trim by Cool Trimmers. As I intend to give a bit of a seeing to at a super sprint meeting I fitted what would be a CAMS approved roll bar, attachments are built in so that a full harness seat belt can be readily fitted.  I have not weighed it but my guess is around 800kg

Despite not achieving the engineers big tick I was not disappointed with the test. Sitting in the seat beside the test engineer with no helmet the wind blast on the main straight at Mallala nearly blew my face off. For car powered by an ancient  2 liter engine it flies. I hope I will get a degree of understanding when I turn up at sports car cruises in this machine.

Pat Miller.

Grant Stephenson – Ford Escort

We visited Grant last time in the shed to look at his Bugeye , but while there we also had a past look at his Ford Escort. This started life as mudsprint vehicle and evolved to an Improved Production Race Car (Club Car). Here are a couple of snaps from the mud sprint days at Southern Districts Car Club’s track at Old Reynella (now the track is covered with houses).

Stay safe and will see you in the shed soon….

Vale- Tony Guest

Tony Guest (right) presenting David Low a trophy at the 1994 Sprite Club Display Day

It is with sadness that I write to inform the Members of the Sprite Club of South Australia of the passing of previous member and past President Tony Guest.

Tony and his late wife Sally joined during the late 1980’s and were active members in all aspects of the Club, social, car displays and competition events. Tony was elected President in 1994.

Tony and Sally were also regular entrants and supporters of the All British Day, regularly displaying their vehicles over many years and proudly wearing the Union Jack of their home country.

Tony and Sally’s early 1958 Bugeye Sprite

Tony and Sally had an rare early 1958 “9-Stud Windscreen” Bugeye Sprite that Tony restored twice during his ownership and also owned a Mk IIIA Sprite that was his daily driver and evolved into a competitive Sprite for MSCA Sprints. This Sprite is still in the Sprite Club having been restored by Chris Brine and currently owned by Patrick Kukla.

Tony and Sallys MkIIIA Sprite with the 1989 MSCA Class A Trophy on the bonnet

Tony interest in competition included MSCA Sprints and Bordertown motorkhanas. Tony was awarded the MSCA Class A Champion driver in 1989 and also was awarded the Sprite Club’s Sprite of the Year and Sprint Driver of the Year.

On behalf of the Committee and the Members of the Sprite Club of South Australia we pass on our condolences to Tony’s daughters, Louise and Samantha and their families.

Tony’s Mk IIIA Sprite leading Gordon Boyce’s Bugeye at Turn 2 – Mallala 1990

Sprite Club of South Australia COVID-19 Update

Dear Members,

The Committee hope you are all well and keeping safe in these pandemic times. Currently there has been some lifting of the restrictions on social gatherings and meeting, but the Fullarton Park Community Centre has not reopened for evening events and there is a limitation of numbers of gatherings in the Centre.

Therefore until these restrictions are lifted (which might be later this month) we will continue to wait until gathering for our General Meetings.

The same restrictions have applied for our social events and the next few on the calendar we have had to postpone.

The Mid-Week Meander to The Bend Motorsport Park and the Slot Car BBQ have been postponed until we can allow the full number of members to enjoy these events and the planning behind the scenes becomes worthwhile for the organisers.

There is notification from the MSCA that they are currently planning to host the next Supersprint at Mallala in July. More details will be posted as they come to hand.

The Committee has also been in contact with the City of Holdfast Bay regarding out Annual Sprite Display Day in October, but will see what is allowed by the time this event draws closer.

Even with all of these restrictions, social distancing and self isolation we have enjoyed the new membership of three new members & partners and their Sprites and Midgets. There are also a couple more new members in the pipeline.

We would like to welcome these members and look forward to meeting them on either a social drive or the general meetings – hope to catch up soon…

James Campbell – Sprite Mk III

Julieanne Goode & Mary Fabris – Bugeye Sprite

Robin Dunk – MG Midget

Hope you keep safe and well

Yours Spritely

President Gordon Boyce and The Committee of the Sprite Club of SA

Virtual Classic Sports Car Cruise

The Sprite Club of South Australia provides many different activities for it’s members, meetings, dinners, BBQs, competition and motor sport activities.

The one activity that all members enjoy is driving their Sprites, Midgets and Associate vehicles.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has prevented the Sprite Club from conducting these important social drives, particularly the Classic Sports Car Cruises.

In this current world of social distancing and self-isolation we can experience different ways of doing what we would normally enjoy, Zoom meetings, Skype phone calls, and virtual virtually anything….

So put on your cap, sunglasses, driving gloves and settle down for a virtual Classic Sports Car Cruise………..

Press Play Button to start the video

Sprite Club Of South Australia Update

To all Members of the Sprite Club of South Australia

We hope you are all keeping safe and well during these interesting times

The Sprite Club of SA Committee is aware of the restrictions on venues and public gatherings that are imposed on all citizens of South Australia.

As the SA Government is reviewing and updating these restriction we will abide by these and hope that a return to normal Sprite Club activities will resume soon.

The Fullarton Park Community Centre is currently closed as they can only have up 10 people on the site at any given time. They have been in contact with the Club and will let us know when we can return for a General Meeting.

These restrictions also apply to runs, social drives and motorsport competition, but these may may be lifted in the coming months. The Committee will inform all members as the situation changes.

2021 National Sprite and Midget Challenge

On a positive note we have heard from the Queensland Sprite Club and they are planning the 2021 National Sprite and Midget Challenge for the 1st – 5th April 2020, subject to COVID-19 restrictions and cross border travel being lifted.

Expression of interest form are being developed and we will circulate to members as the information come to hand

We hope you have been enjoying the Sprite Club of SA Website updates, Flashback Fridays, Sunday’s in the Shed and other items to keep you interested over the past few months. Stay tuned for more….

Yours Spritely

President Gordon Boyce and the Committee of the Sprite Club of South Australia

Flashback Friday – The Day Geoffrey Healey Nearly Came To Town

Geoffrey Healey 1922 – 1994

The Father and Son combination of Donald and Geoffrey Healey were instrumental in the formation of the Donald Healey Motor Company and the following association with Austin to form Austin-Healey.

While Donald had the ideas of the various vehicles, Geoffrey as the engineer assisted to put these ideas into reality. This was particularly so with the development of the Sprite.

Geoffrey Healey working on the drawings for the Bugeye Sprite at the Donald Healey Motor Company

During 1993 in preparation for the Sprite Club of South Australia’s 21st Birthday, the secretary wrote to Geoffrey inviting him to join us for our celebrations.

The Sprite Club received the following reply…………

While Geoffrey and Margot Healey did not attend, the 21st Birthday and the port bottling went ahead as planned. And a good time was had by all, but that is a story for another day!

Geoffrey passed away the following year and the Sprite Club sent the letter below to Margot as a mark of respect for the man we did not get to meet……………..


Phillip Island GP Circuit, Victoria, Australia 5th to 8th March 2020

It was the 60th anniversary of Marcos cars, and the word went out for as many owners as possible to attend…and that included the Taylorspeed Jems…as they are closely related. It was the first ever national gathering of the Marcos marque in Australia, part of the Festival of Speed weekend hosted by the Victorian Historic Racing Register.

As I related at the last Sprite Club general meeting, I’d only got my Jem running properly literally days before I left for the Island….I had plug leads 2 and 3 reversed…and it makes a great deal of difference!! With all new ignition parts, properly timed and a nice new set of tires, she was performing like a dream. I’d finally finished the removable door windows
(Sprite guys call them side curtains) which I had started several years ago…you can’t rush these things eh! Phil Huxtable and I trailered our Jems from Adelaide, and I must make special thanks to Miles Jackson who very kindly lent me his Sprite trailer, which I towed behind a hired diesel tray-top, making the trip much easier. As I was travelling alone, I decided to avoid the crazy Melbourne freeway traffic and went via Geelong and caught the ferry across from Queenscliff
to Sorrento – definitely worth the money.

Ten cars in all were present over the weekend which was pretty good going, considering that we came from all over the country and were given relatively short notice. The VHRR had organised a Friday evening display space for us on the Cowes main street. On Saturday and Sunday we were given a location in the car park near the entrance but with a
good view of the circuit. We spent a lot of time explaining what people were looking at – most had never heard of a Marcos….some vaguely remembered the Taylorspeed Jems from their childhood! I was staying with Phil Smethurst, the organiser of the reunion, who had rented a house on the Island 15Km from the circuit….so a brisk trip down country back-roads early each morning was a good way to start the day.
We were lucky that the weekend was just as the Covid19 alarm bells were going off….but just before the lock-downs.

Phil Smethurst’s garage was an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of all things Marcos and we spent the obligatory hour or two looking under bonnets with beer in hand! He has a Mini Marcos and a plywood chassis Marcos GT (1800 Volvo) restoration project.

The Friday evening gathering the main street of Cowes saw 6 of us lined up…with the HDT supporters on the other side, showing signs of disappointment at the end of their marque…but they put on a brave face and just drank more beer!

The VHRR included us in the early morning track laps, which were behind a pace car and understandably…slow! – but it was good to experience the GP track from behind the windscreen…even if I didn’t get out of third gear…!! I’ll just add photos – they’ll tell the story.

A fellow Mini Marcos and Jem Owners Club member on holidays
from the UK dropped in for a chat and a look at our locally-grown
Taylorspeed Jems….it’s a small world….he only just got out of
Australia before the lock-down!

The VHRR also organised for the Marcoz2020 attendees to have professional photos taken on the start line and while on the track…great mementoes of the weekend.

…oh, by the way…there were other things going on at the circuit as well….

…not a bad way to spend your last weekend of freedom before self isolation ….

Cheers Paul Mitchell

Sunday’s In The Shed

With members of the Sprite Club of South Australia either social distancing or self isolating it is time to grab a coffee or similar and head to the shed to see what they have been doing with their Sprites, Midgets or Clubbies over the past few weeks. Thanks to all for the photos, please keep them coming.

Grant Stephenson – Bugeye Sprite

Grant’s Bugeye hasn’t been seen for a while as he has been repainting the engine bay body colour as it was originality painted black during it’s original restoration. This Sprite has won the Sprite Nationals Concours on many occasions during the 1980’s and 90’s and was driven to these events and competed as well. It will good to see it back on the road once again, I’ll let Grant add to the story……

The Sprite has been off the road for longer than I want to admit, those of you that know Helen will be able to work it out . The Sprite has been moving forward at a good rate recently, a few hours during the week and I have achieved lots. A quick phone call to Colin at Sprite Parts and all new brakes have arrived, I couldn’t wait to get started, every thing was going well till the drivers rear system decided that it wasn’t going to come apart. Well the car was first restored in 1979! As you can see by the photos a lot of work has been going on with the second rebuild. I am very keen to have the car back on the road and enjoy runs with the Sprite Club once again.” 

Phil Kies – Elfin Clubman

Phil originally joined the Sprite Club with this lovely Elfin Clubman. This has since been sold and Phil is currently restoring a Triumph TR4A. Looking forward to seeing the TR4A on Classic Sports Car Cruises when life returns to normal………………..

Garry Beaton – Sprite Mk IIIA

Garry’s Sprite at Mallala heading through Turn 8 – “Clubhouse”

Must go and do some more tidying during self isolation…………………………….