By Jason McGarry.
With 2020 being the year of disruption, confusion and challenges it has enabled me to compete in an event that will probably never be repeated again.
The opportunity came at the recent Winter Noosa Hillclimb event where my fellow competitor Chris Ching (Evo and Porsche driver) asked me would I be interested in going to Townsville to compete in a sprint event, my obvious answer was yes. Two days later I secured a spot to compete in the second weekend of the Townsville SuperSprinters support category for the Townsville Supercars.
The event was 5 races, three on the Saturday and two on the Sunday each being 25 minute sessions in a sprint format so we were racing against the clock and not position on the track.
Setup was on the Friday with scrutineering, workplace safety and Covid inductions, the event was under the control of Supercars so it was very heavy on compliance and adhering to their rules, with biggest one was that we had to stay in our own Bubble. I set up beside my fellow friends from south east Queensland, Chris Ching (Porsche 911) and Roy Davis (Triumph GT6) and their very capable wives being their pit crew.
My pit crew flew in later that afternoon and got acclimatised at the Townville Yacht Club and organised drinks and diner for our arrival, both guys have beautifully restored Datsun 2000s so the night was a motoring feast of information.
The event was run by the Marque Sports Car Club of NQ and Drive-it which is the group behind developing and building a permanent track and driver education facility about 40 minutes out of Townsville. Have a look at the Drive-it website, it is very exciting as Stage 1 is complete, and Stage 2 of construction should occur early in the new year.
The array of cars competing were from the fastest, being Michael von Rappard in a Stohr where he got down to a 1m 16s (which was within 2.5 seconds of Scott McLaughlin’s Mustang), to Roland Dane in a 1967 Camaro, Paul Morris in an XJS Jaguar. Regulars competing in south east Queensland events, Chris Ching in a Porsche 911 Cup car, Roy Davis in a Triumph GT6, Trent Laves’ 200SX and of course, yours truly in the Caterham R300. The Caterham was great to drive around the tight street circuit except for the main straight that seemed to go on forever (the Exige would have been a better choice) as I just ran out of legs heading down it.
I decided to take the Caterham as I thought it would be great to show this type car at an event like the Supercars so it would achieve some exposure, which it certainly achieved especially on the Saturday afternoon, where the commentators talked at length about Caterhams. In the end my time dropped from 1m 46s in the first race down to 1m 36s in the last race, positioning me 23rd out of 32 cars which I was really pleased with, and no serious mechanical issues or damage other than a fuel leak and destroying a set of soft race tyres over the weekend.
2020 will go down as the year in history as a year of change and disruption but I will remember it as the year where I and the green R300 (Hulk) competed in a V8 Supercar event!