Did you know that the Sprite Club Bugeye SUS-600 is a film star?
During 1977 the South Australian Film Corporation were looking for a sports car for the lead actor to drive in a telemovie “The Sound of Love”.
The actor was a young John Jarrett (of Wolf Creek fame) and also starred Celia De Burgh, who also featured in numerous Australian film and TV series.
The plot of the film is a simple love story with a motor racing background.
When a tragic motor sport accident leaves Dave (John Jarratt) deaf, life becomes meaningless for the cynical, mechanically minded, sports-car driving young man.
Eileen (Celia de Burgh) is a small-time pickpocket, a drifter who cares little about the men that she sleeps with, but she is also afflicted by deafness which has left her alienated from the world.
The pair meet while in the care of specialist John Lewis (George Ogilvie) and a powerful love begins between them, a love that needs no words …
Things threaten to go wrong when the couple argue – David refuses to admit he’s deaf – and Eileen finds herself in a van with two ruffians ready to rape her.
But Dave arrives in his sports-car and saves her, and the relationship becomes even stronger … a love that will change them forever …
Filmed in the Adelaide suburbs, Willunga and the Adelaide International Raceway there are locations that are reasonably easy to recognise.
Through all of this the Blue Bugeye features in many of the scenes and adds a Spritely flavour to the movie. Although SUS-600 did need a repaint and a new clutch after being used for the filming!
While aimed at the telemovie sector, the film used to appear as the midday movie on Channel Nine or often in the late night movie sector. It then ended up as a VHS video and can be found for sale on the internet.
SUS-600 has been in the Sprite Club of SA since the early days of the Club, so when you see her next please acknowledge this aging film star and her addition to the Sprites that have featured on the Silver Screen……….or the TV and VHS player!
Sprites and Midgets featured in numerous TV shows, adverts and movies over the years. This led recently to a message from Life Member Grant Stephenson regarding a TV special feature on the revival of the AMSCOL Ice Cream brand. During the feature there was a few flashbacks to the era and adverts of the brand. At one point there was a TV advert from Feb 1963 for the AMSCOL Berry Bar. The advert featured a very young Ernie Sigley and 1963 SA Female Logie winner Angela Stacey, and an early Bugeye Sprite.
This lead me to a bit of Google search and found a number of Sprite and Midget videos clips where the cars feature. The first one that springs to mind is the very early video featuring racing driver Roy Salvadori and John Bolster (with his lovely British accent!) at Silverstone Race Track with PBL 75 – the first promotional Bugeye.
Of course motorsport has been used as the promotion for many car brands over the years, and the Sprite and Midget was no exception. This advert for the Mk III Sprite is a classic example of “Race on Sunday – Sell on Monday!”
The other way to promote the Sprite and Midget is to feature the cars in popular television series. British TV shows like Heartbeat featured a few Sprites over the years.
Even Australian TV series featured Sprites – an early 9-stud windscreen Bugeye was driven by character Jo Loveday in A Country Practice and even featured prominently in the opening credits.
The English version of Top Gear featured both Bugeye and Mk III Sprites in various special features, which also helped promote the Marque, even many years after they have been sold new.
So if you want a “Flashback” and to use up a few minutes (or hours) of Google search , type in Sprite or Midget, select video and sit back and enjoy the various clips both old and new.
Just to finish up while the movie American Graffiti is a cult American movie that features many classic American cars, hot rods and customs, if you look very carefully there is a Yellow Bugeye that features in the street cruise scene. This George Lucas film (pre-Star Wars) also has Ron Howard and Harrison Ford as stars of the movie..
I hope that you are all keeping well in these testing times, as the COVID-19 virus is continuing its devastating impact around the world. Our thoughts go out to those impacted by the virus, both directly and indirectly.
We recently held a committee meeting to decide how we should proceed with All British Day 2021.
We decided that we will keep planning and organising; essentially business as usual. This decision has been taken as the amount of work that has to be done to prepare for All British Day simply cannot be left to the last minute.
Over the last few months, the COVID-19 regulations have changed considerably and possibly they will change again in the coming months. The best we can do is to keep monitoring the situation and keep updating you and our website.
Rest assured everyone’s health is of paramount importance to us and will continue to be. If we are given permission to proceed with ABD 2021, we no doubt will have to implement procedures to comply with COVID-19 regulations, whatever they may be next February. This will have an impact on how we run the day, so we do ask for your understanding if things are not running as smoothly as usual.
Like most other event organisers at present, we are planning on the run. We hope it is not the case, but if it eventuates that you have paid to attend All British Day 2021 and we do not get approval or our approval is revoked, or possibly event restrictions and distancing do not make the event viable by 30/11/2020 we would simply roll your entry over to ABD 2022. Again, the entry fee remains unchanged.
On a more positive note, looking to next February we are promoting two themes for ABD 2021.
The first is “British Working Wheels”. Via this theme we want to bring to the public’s attention the extent and diversity of British vehicles that have contributed in Australia over the decades, from the humble push bike to small capacity motorcycles, moving on to larger bikes possibly with side cars, and we would like to display examples of the daily runabouts /company cars.
We also would like to see the types of vehicles used by middle management, upper management and on to vice regal and government saloons.
Other British workhorses we would like to see are delivery vans, utilities, tractors, busses, and trucks, not forgetting that Britain also equipped the military with a diverse range of vehicles. We feel that there is plenty of scope to salute Britain’s working wheels contribution in the past and in our current times.
Britain was not all work and no play; we are also looking to celebrate the 60th year of the E type Jaguar, a car that could easily be described as the quintessential example of an elegant sports car. The E-type was the ideal car linking Jaguar’s recent racing history to the buyers that purchased this impressive car. It is a vehicle that turned heads 60 years ago and continues to do so. If you own a vehicle or know of someone that owns a vehicle that either fits the British Working Wheels criteria or has a Jaguar E-type, simply forward this letter to them!
At this stage we are expecting to open for entries on 1/10/2020, closing on 7/11/2020.
We will be monitoring the number and types of entries to ensure we can use the grounds effectively and host a balanced display.
Jamie Sandford -Morgan President – All British Day
The current crisis is probably affecting our club more than each of yours but with most activities shut down I thought it would be good to get an update from each of you as to how your clubs are going that I could put in our next magazine. Just a to show the Australian Sprite Clubs aren’t isolating from each other!!Just to kick things off:
Hello from the ‘Stage 4 State’ and greetings from all our members.
Here in Victoria we had a small burst of club activity in June and early July as the pandemic situation appeared to be improving but it wasn’t to last and now our beloved cars are gathering dust again. Jack De Bruijne usually runs a mid-week drive during winter for those members who have retired. Despite having a knee operation that stopped him from leading a couple of the drives they went ahead as ‘Jackless’ drives.
Our indefatigable Soc Sec (Chris Crombie) managed to get in a couple of social drives as well. One of them was a Sunday drive to Billanook Winery in the Yarra Valley which I was able to join and blow away most of the cobwebs – for both me and my car.
Chris had a tour arranged in September to the Western District to visit all the painted silos but that has just had to be cancelled, or at least postponed until next year. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed our end of year dinner will be able to go ahead.
All our members are safe and well which is the main thing. I hope your clubs are ‘riding the wave’ and that all your members and their families are also safe and well.
Cheers Mike Welsh – President – Austin Healey Sprite Drivers’ Club Inc.
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!
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
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 Pete.
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.
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….
Catering for Austin Healey Sprite and MG Midget Enthusiasts