Flashback Friday – 6-Hour Relays, Races and Regularities

On the eve of the MSCA Peter Hall Memorial 6-Hour Regularity Relay it is timely to have a look back at the Sprite Club of SA’s involvement with this type of event.

During the early days of the Sprite Club, competition was a strong part of the Club’s events, so the 6-hours became part of this activity. The Triumph Sports Owners Association of Victoria ran very successful 6-hour races at Calder Park, north west of Melbourne .

These events were scored on a handicap system, to ensure the drivers could maintain a constant lap time, losing laps/scores for going to fast. This handicap allowed the slower cars and teams to compete for outright honours. Being a relay race, a sash was carried by the driver for each lap they completed and handed to the next driver before they entered the track. If there was a breakdown the sash had to be returned to the pits before the next car could enter the circuit.

Photo courtesy of Doug Gordon

These events during the mid 1970’s included the following cars and drivers – note some of these (members and cars) are still in the Club! Team was Richard Stokes – Lightweight MG Midget (ex-Surfers Paradise 12 hour car), Reiner (Joe) Walker – 1275 Midget (RGX-781), Dean King – Mk1 Bugeye with Galant motor (SUS-600) and Peter Smeets – Sprite MkIIA with a Corolla Motor.

Photo courtesy of Doug Gordon

The Austin 7 Club of South Australia organised similar events at Adelaide International Raceway during 1976-1978, and once again the Sprite Club entered a team. Working on the handicap system the Sprite Club was quite successful, coming second place in 1976 with 244 laps, and third place in 1977 with 245 laps.

There was a gap for a few years and during 1988 – 1992 Club members Dean King (and then Rob Peckett) in the Toyota Sprite and Gordon Boyce – Bugeye Sprite joined the teams of the Victorian Austin Healey Sprite Drivers Club to make up teams for the Mini Club of Victoria 6-Hour Relay Races at Winton.

These teams had the various vehicle make-up of Sprites, Midgets and assorted associate vehicles. The team names included The Bent Brothers, The Twisted Sisters (all female team) and Roofless Racing. There was also a specific All Sprite/Midget team for the AHSDC’s 25th Anniversary Year in 1991. Other members joined in with the AHSDC for Winton 6, 12 and 24 hour events during the latter part of the decade.

MSCA President, Peter Hall had competed in these events in his Datsun 1600 and knew the importance of these events for the “Car Club Competitor”. He therefore, with assistance of the MSCA Committee a Plan to run a 6-Hour Relay Sprint at Mallala for the local car clubs and their members. This evolved into a Regularity Event, meaning competitors only required a Basic/Level 2 competition licence, and the speed of the cars could be limited. It was aimed at the usual road going or slightly modified cars that could compete, rather that the out and out racing cars.

And the concept grew, teams from all of the MSCA clubs became involved, Sprite Club, MG, MIni, Alfa Romeo, Fiat/Lancia, Bolwell and later MX-5, Lotus and Porsche. There is also a large support of club members who help with Team Manager, timing, lap scoring, general car maintenance and repairs, as well as feeding and watering both the cars and the drivers. This adds to the spectacle of the day and the event.

In recent years, members from the AHSDC have travelled over the border, entering teams in the event as well, with these team often placed in the top 3 teams, also worked on a the handicap system. For the 2021 event there are three teams from the AHSDC competing!

We must also include the Clubbies SA teams that are also a part of the Sprite Club and have been entries in most of the MSCA 6-Hours. These guys and girls have a lot of fun and the team name “We’re In It For The Beer” adds to this.

So if you heading to Mallala this weekend, either as a driver, official, supporter, timer/lap scorer or spectator, you are being part of an important chapter in the Sprite Club of SA’s competition history.

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