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

For sale

4 x 4’ twin fluorescent lamps, (20.00ea) 
1 x 5’ twin fluorescent lamp (20.00ea)  
1 x 4’ Single fluorescent lamp. (10.00)
All lamps have daylight globes in them, prices as above or $100 for the lot. 
Mike Laws
04one8 2five3 8five9

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…………………………….

Flashback Friday – Sprite Club Concours 1981

During the early years of the Sprite Club of SA the main interest was in socialising, competition and generally driving Sprites and Midgets.

During the early 1980’s there were a number of members who were interested in the restoration and originality preservation of these vehicles.

With that in mind the Committee planned to hold it’s first Concours for November 1981.. It was decided that the judging for the vehicles was based on a mixture of presentation and originality.

The venue chosen was Bonython Park, Port Road as it had a lot of passing traffic to help improve and promote, not only the Spridgets, but also the Sprite Club.

A total of around 20 vehicles lined up on the day, with Bugeye’s and Mk III/IIIA the most popular. Interesting to note three vehicles present on the day are still owned by the same owners today, the Bugeye’s of Julie Williams and Grant Stephenson, and the Mk II of Gordon Boyce. There were also two MG Midgets on the day, one the rarer 1961 Mk I Midget.

The format of this event has been continued by the Club, with the current Sprite Club Display Day that is annually held at Wigley Reserve, Glenelg.

Bugeye Sprites on TV

The new Free to Air TV Channel 9Rush will be showing the TV Show “Wheeler Dealers”. This Wednesday they will be televising the episode where they will be restoring a Bugeye Sprite….might be of interest to those who are self-isolating, or just sittin on the couch instead of in the shed.

It is repeated throughout the day, or you can view on Catch-up TV.

Thanks Darrel for the info ……………

Vale – Kevin Warren

It is with sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Sprite Club Founder Member and Inaugural President, Kevin Warren.

Kevin and wife Marilyn, as well as the other Founder Members were instrumental in forming the Sprite Club of South Australia in 1972. The meeting venue was the Staff Quarters above the National Bank in O’Connell Street, North Adelaide where Kevin worked!

At this meeting Kevin was appointed President, a role he would hold for 1972, 1973, 1995 & 1996. He also served the Sprite Club Committee as Competition Secretary, Editor and Treasurer.

Kevin and Marilyn were activily invloved with the Sprite Club during the early phase of the Club including both competition and social activities.

The couples wedding featured Sprites as part of the Wedding Party, which was covered in detail in the ‘Sprouting Forth Social Pages”.

I received this email from Marilyn on Saturday 18th April:

Just to let you know Kevin died peacefully at 10.08 this morning (Saturday) after 14 months of liver problems & a massive stroke on Easter Sunday. He loved the SCSA & his red Mark 3 and really missed it when ill health meant he had to sell it. The SCSA was such a big part of our lives for so many years. We have such fond memories of those early days in the club & the wonderful people we shared life with. Marilyn xx

On behalf of the Members and Committee of the Sprite Club of South Australia we would like to pass on our condolences to Marilyn, and their children Ben & Sarah and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time…………….

Gordon Boyce – President – Sprite Club of South Australia

Flashback Friday – MSCA Beach Run

Sprites and Midgets lined up at the MSCA Beach Run, Aldinga Beach, 1977.
L to R – Dean & Helen King – Bugeye, Unknown – Mk II, Michael Perry – Mk III, Kevin & Marilyn Warren – Mk III, Mark Chown – Mk II, Robert Harding (?) – Bugeye, Doug Gordon – MG Midget, Don & Chris Williams – Mk III

The Marque Sports Car Association (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 Racing Circuit 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.

One event that started the calendar each year was the MSCA Beach Run. Starting at the lookout at the “Top of Taps”, on Main South Road, just before the Victoria Hotel. The convey would then cruise through the Southern Suburbs, often with Police Escort, to end up on the beach at Aldinga Beach.

The Sprite of the Williams and Warrens with MGA Coupe, Morgans, Datsun 180SSS and Porsche 356 at the “Top of Taps” a the start of the Beach Run – Note the very low skyline of the Adelaide CBD in the distance.

Here is an extract from the Coming Events page from the Sprite Club’s Sprouting Forth magazine.

January Sunday 16th 1977

The Annual MSCA Beach Run

Last Years event attracted over 80 sports cars. This year the MSCA is hoping for 100. Because you went last year, you will be able to tell all your “Sports Car” friends that it is ON again, and what a great day it is.

For our numerous new members, The Beach Run is a run to the beach! A convoy of Sprites, Healeys, MG’s, Triumphs, Alpines, Porsches, Jaguars, Morgans, infact, any type of sports car which you like to mention, will be leaving the lookout on Tapley’s hill at 10.30am. We will make our way to Aldinga Beach for a BBQ ETC, a game of volleyball, a swim and a look at the largest line up of sports cars in South Australia.

This event continued for many years, until the price of our vehicles increased and the worry of sand, salt and rust cause the event to head to Clayton, near Goolwa for the “Claytons” Beach Run. This also proved a popular event for many members during the mid 1980’s. The MSCA Trophy Presentation Day continues this tradition as the first MSCA event for the calendar year.

Thanks to Michael Perry for the photos of the 1977 MSCA Beach Run .

The photos below are from the 1984 MSCA Beach Run.

Bugeyes on the Beach – MSCA Beach Run to Aldinga Beach – 1984

Flashback Friday – Sprite National Challenge

The Easter Long weekend has traditionally been the meeting of the Sprite Clubs of Australia for the National Challenge. This year it was to be held in Warwick, Queensland, but due the effects of COVID-19, this event had to be cancelled.

The Sprite National challenge started as an annual competition meeting between the Victorian and NSW Sprite Clubs, with SA initially visiting and taking home a few trophies. Over the years the Queensland Sprite Club joined in as well. Even a few members from WA headed across the Nullabour for the SA hosted event.

The organisation of the event was shared between Vic and NSW clubs and the location was generally central to most clubs. The circuits and locations used have included Hume Weir, Hay, Catalina Park, Winton, Oran Park, Phillip Island, Wakefield Park, Calder Park. South Australia organised the 2001 event which was held at Mallala, while Queensland has hosted events at the Morgan Park circuit.

The event initially consisted of circuit practice on Good Friday, sprints on Saturday and motorkhana on Easter Sunday. As the event grew and the inclusion of more road going vehicles to the National Challenge, driver training and regularity events were added to the Friday and a concours was held before the motorkhana on Sunday. Social drives to local wineries, cafes and points of interest were added for those members who were not involved with the competition side of the event.

The evenings were a very social event with quiz nights, spark plug changing competitions, sing-a-longs, dummy-spitting competitions, theatrical skits and rocker cover racing. The presentation dinner was a glamour themed event covering black tie, 50’s style, funk’n’groove, “where were you in 1958” and space themes to add colour and fun to the event. With plenty of food and an array of beverages (or 2…..or 3!!) these nights were enjoyable to all.

The highlight of these nights were the presentation of the trophies for the various events over the weekend. South Australian members have been very successful in bringing home some silverware including fastest in sprints, motorkhana and lady drivers, concours winners both in the various classes and overall, and the coveted Top Sprite award for the best result over the regularity, sprint, motorkhana and concours events.

Part of the event was getting there, via major highways, country lanes, tourist routes and other means. Some made this a holiday taking in the tourist spots on the return journey home.

If you have not been to a Sprite National Challenge before please consider it, you will meet a great group of like mined Sprite and Midget people. Many a friendship has been created at the first event you attend and these friendship are still strong all across Australia.

Flashback Friday

At the recent All British Day I returned to my Sprite to find a previous Sprite Club Member (thanks John Stockton) had left a couple of past editions of the Club’s bi-monthly magazine, “Sprouting Forth”. These were the months of July and December 1976. The “Bugeye Burble” was the bulletin that was produced for the alternate months.

Here is some snippets from the pages of these issues.

1976 Sprite Club Committee 

President – Richard Stokes 

Secretary – Reinhardt (Joe) Walker   

Competition Secretary – Kevin Warren

Social Secretary – Mandy Stokes   

Editors – Don Williams and Doug Gordon (still owns a BRG MG Midget and been on a few Sports Car Cruises) 

The Sprite Club had around 30 – 40 financial members and the membership fees were:  

Club Membership                                                                $6.00  

Club Membership with a CAMS Licence                             $8.00   

Club Membership with 2 x CAMS Licence (Hubby/Wife)    $10.00

There were articles on Sprites and Midgets, the Bordertown Motorkhana with the Victorian Sprite Club, the Annual Dinner at the Hungarian Restaurant, Motorkhana Results (entry fee $1.50), recipes, crosswords and Christmas Songs with Sprite wording!

There were a couple of Sprites/Midgets for sale, a Black Rotary Powered Sprite (which I think was purchased by Don Williams brother Rick), A MkIII Sprite for $995 and changeover front wishbones for $35 a side.

Also the Guest Speaker for the July Meeting was to be Gary Cooper (of Elfin Sports Car fame) who was to provide a talk and slide show.

There was also a “Thesis on the Extistence of Aardvarks” by Reinhardt (Joe) Walker BA (Batchelor Aardvark), but I will save that for another day…..…….