2014 SPRITE NATIONAL CHALLENGE AT WARWICK QLD.
For those who are unfamiliar with what a Sprite Challenge is, briefly it is a National gathering of Sprite owners from the various Sprite Clubs from around Australia, held usually over 3 days at Easter.
The activities are social runs around the district, Regularity and Sprints on a race track, Concourse judging and a Motorkhana. All these events are optional. Points are awarded for each discipline.
So on return from the 2012 National Challenge in Wangaratta I thought every effort should made to encourage more of our members to attend the 2014 Challenge. For the past 10 years our club has largely ignored this event. If you join any other one make car club the National event is always a high point in the Club’s list of events. So we were missing out on the fun, and really it is great fun, and you meet some really nice like minded people.
The morning of departure arrived and we met at Tailem Bend on Monday 14th April with our cars on trailers. We had Don and Elaine Cardone, Garry and Molly Beaton, Chris Miller and Barb Ridge, Gary and Fay Brock, Clive Spreadbury and Cheryl Pitt and David and Di Low. Chris and Tina Brine left the next day and took the Broken Hill route. Also attending were Sue, Helen and Grant Stephenson and Helen King, but they were flying up. First problem Garry Beaton failed to listen to Molly’s navigation instructions and was seen heading down the Expressway towards Adelaide, however he caught up the time and found us.
First stop for morning tea was Lameroo. The baker shop had just bought an espresso machine and we were it’s first customers, so that took a long time. Lunch was at Ouyen and then on to Balranald Caravan Park through Tooleybuc arriving mid afternoon. We broke out the nibbles and wine then walked to the RSL for dinner. The meal was tasteless and we vowed to find a better place when returned to Balranald on our way home.
Day 2 we headed for West Wyalong stopping at Hay for fuel and coffee. Just out of Hay we saw and large group of cattle grazing on the side of the highway, a great Aussie sight. We bought our lunch in Hay at the baker shop and stopped at Goolgowi. Here Clive Spreadbury caught up to us, he had motor home towing his Sprite, so his cruising speed was lower than ours. However did not stop as much as we did, so we named him the ”tortoise” as per the story about the tortoise and the hare. As were eating our lunch a Police car stopped and asked had we seen a small boy using the public phone. We said yes, and pointed to house he came from, apparently he playing with the phone and had dialled 000. By mid afternoon we arrived at West Wyalong caravan park. Shortly after arriving two vintage Morris cars arrived on trailers. We introduced ourselves only to find one of them was once a Sprite Club SA member and was about to sell his Mark 2. They were off to a Morris Club National Rally in Forbes.
Day 3 our destination was Narrabri. This took us to Forbes, Parkes, and at Peak Hill we stopped for morning tea. This is a small run down little town. Saw some old cars in a disused Holden dealership and found nice coffee shop/ antique shop. Then on through Dubbo, Gilgandra and lunch at Coonabarabran. Chris Miller an ex-truckie suggested the BP truck stop, but when got there it had been demolished so we head back to Shell and had a petrol station lunch. Soon we had arrived at Narrabri and found we had booked a really nice caravan park with close parking for our trailers. We ordered Pizzas and Chris and Tina Brine called in and had a couple of drinks, they had travelled from Broken Hill that day about 900k’s. Chris Miller had noticed the trailer Gary Brock had borrowed was swaying so we checked the tyre pressures only to find the tyre valves were shot. So around to the Tyre shop for new valves.
Day 4 was Warwick. So up to Bellata for fuel and coffee then on to Moree and lunch at Goondiwindi at the BP. Finally we arrived at Warwick about mid afternoon, and found our respective Motels all adjacent to each other. Cars we unloaded and the trailers parked behind one of the motels. Rooms were of a good standard. A welcome BBQ was held and we were given a bag of goodies which contained a book with all the info we needed, plus a smart jacket and a clutch alignment tool.
Friday we awoke to an early breakfast of good quality. About half the group went out to track and the rest went on a social run of about 200k,s. Garry Beaton came out to track with, but sadly his car had low oil pressure and he could not get 2nd gear in his new gearbox. Not wanting to risk further damage he chose not run in the Regularity. So that left Chris Brine, Clive Spreadbury and David Low to run in the Regularity.
Once the paperwork, scrutineering and the drivers meeting was over we were almost ready. All had to find a fit some padding to our roll bars. Garry Beaton and Chris Miller helped with this, then we we split into 6 groups of 6 cars. Before any competition took place we drove around the track for several laps behind a guiding car, and this enabled us to learn the racing lines.
Then we were called up in our groups. I approached this with some fear I would very slow, but gradually confidence and pace grew during the day. A coupe of corners I found the exact racing line, and on one occasion I went off the track. My times were slow, then as tried harder they became even slower, then gradually they began to improve. My final result was 15th, Chris Brine was 24th and Clive Spreadbury was 25th,. I was however, the slowest car. A lady from NSW, Wendy Gibbs was the winner.
Dinner was at the track and later that night the Rocker Cover racing took place. Much to everybody’s amazement, except the South Australians, Fay Brock won with complete and growing crowd support. The interstaters could not believe she kept beating all comers. Shortly afterwards it was the Scalectrix Model Car racing here Clive Spreadbury, who is right in to this, showed them all how it’s done.
On the Saturday my car had been in my ownership 30 years, but I was to find a couple of the cars had been owned for over 50 years. Chris Brine went out again to the track and competed in the Sprints and came back with a big grin on his face having had a great day. Clive wanted to go out but had car trouble. The rest of us went on 200k question and answer run having lunch at Stanthorpe. That night Dinner was at the close by Australian Rodeo Heritage Centre. Here we all dressed in Western Clothing and had a nice meal then were entertained with camp drafting and a stock whip demonstration. Yee Haa!
Sunday morning was concourse day. So we drove a short distance up to Leslie Park in the town centre and lined our cars up in model groups. Our great hope here was Don Cardone’s beautiful Bug eye. Don had very carefully trailored his car up having wrapped it in cling wrap and covered it with fitted car cover. Other cars there were a Sprinzel replica, Peter Clarke’s supercharged Bug eye, a street legal turbo charged Bug eye with 260 Hp from an A series motor. Don came 3rd, we were sorry to see him disappointed, technicalities in originality beat him. That night we went to the RSL club dressed in sixties clothing. Here the trophies were presented. SA came 4th, NSW 3rd, Victoria second and the winner was Qld. .
I was asked on many occasions by Qld, Vic and NSW members would our club host the next challenge, but I explained this was not all possible, and went on to fully explain the reasons.
Many times I found myself sitting at the motel having a beer with the friendly interstaters. One drove his bug eye with his wife down from Cairns, almost as far as we had come. On the way he had a flat tyre and as he was using outback roads, and he had to wait ages for help. He sent his wife off with the flat tyre about 200ks to the nearest town to have it repaired.
Monday came and we had breakfast loaded then up our cars, said our good byes and headed off to Moree. Don and Elaine stayed with friends at Goondiwindi and we went on to the Caravan park at Moree. Here we took to the Artesian spring waters at the caravan park, a very pleasant experience for our aging bones. . Ate at the local pub, which was in walking distance.
Next morning Don and Elaine re-joined us at 9:00 am and see set off for Gilgandra. Had morning tea at Narrabri in a good baker shop. Every Aussie town now has a good baker shop. Lunch was at Coonabarabran again at the baker shop. Graham and Margaret Hately from Sydney were travelling with us , they suggested we go and look at the Warrumbungle ranges , so did that and went on to the giant telescope. Leaving there I found that my Roo Shoo’s’ I fitted to my Forrester worked, as we saw a Kangaroo hopping away from our cars. The sceptics were still not convinced, but I can now point out we did not hit any Kangaroos on the trip despite seeing a few. Accommodation that night was at a motel with a room for each couple . Up till now on the trip up and back we had been sharing. Graham and Margaret took us to a great little pub run by a mother and daughter. Here the two Garrys tried to out hustle each other on the pool table.
More good weather, every day so far had been perfect, we drove to Peak Hill for morning tea, then on to the Parkes Telescope. Here we said good bye to Graham and Margaret Hately and drove to the Forbes Motor Museum. Here we had lunch and then did tour of the Museum. The owner enjoyed telling us car stories, as he quickly realised we were car people. Quite a lot of money was spent in the excellent gift shop, then on to the West Wyalong Caravan Park. Ate that night in the same pub as going up. Beds we a bit hard and sharing with only a curtain to separate the beds is not ideal, but you can’t always have everything.
Left West Wyalong heading for Balranald Caravan Park. Stopped at Goolgowi for morning tea at a little shop in a back street. Then lunch at the Hay baker shop. Spent some time wandering around the town. Noticed the Menswear shop sold huge knives. The we hit the Hay planes and stopped mid way for a stretch as we were all feeling the need to stretch. Finally arrived at Balranald Caravan Park. Our cars always attract people, and soon a guy appeared with photos of his classic cars. Then a MGTD drove in followed by a massive car trailer that parked close to use. Quickly we asked to se what was inside the trailer, and we shown an MGTF that had just won a national MG club concourse. The TD had come second. However we soon became engrossed in this fully enclosed car trailer, it was an amazing trailer built from aluminium and soft opening doors and roof and to aircraft engineering standard. Don was seen taking multiple photos of hinges and fittings. This time we ate at a great little Italian restaurant Café Cassaro in the main street of Balranald.
Finally the last day we stopped Ouyen for morning tea, at the recently up graded baker shop. Then to Lameroo for lunch. At Tailem Bend we said our good byes and headed home to unpack the usual mess.
Was the trip worth it ? Yes it was and I am sure at least most would go to the next one.
So should you!
The NSW club, the Sprite Club of Australia will be hosting the next one, so distances will be easier for us. But really if you have not been to a challenge and you rate yourself as a Sprite enthusiast then you owe it to yourself to make the effort. You won’t be disappointed. So put aside Easter 2016. You can do what we did, make it a holiday combined with the challenge.