A Queensland Perspective
Story by Clive Wade, photos by Gloria Wade.
Now, what is the best thing about your own club hosting the Lotus Biennial? Answer: Simple, for once it will be a short drive! Yay for it arriving back in my home state.
Next best thing is being able to watch everyone in the southern states arranging the drives north on Aussie Elises… the enthusiasm of “making a trip of it” winding back and forth through the Great Dividing Range once north of Sydney, or throwing in an earlier stage through the Snowies if coming from Victoria. Of course as reality sets in, as it does for us Qld’ers when a southern state hosts, the majority bolt straight up the highway whilst a hardy few manage to pull off the dream.
Whichever, well done to all those who travelled from afar, it is no mean feat to put what is a “3 day weekend” into at least a week away from home and work.
When Gloria and I arrived, in two cars, at The Mantra Mooloolaba after a most tiring 1¾ hour drive we were stunned by the display in the hotel foyer… what a sight! Tony Galletly’s beautiful Lotus 11 sitting amongst hay bales and white picket fences, a scene reminiscent of the best Goodwood could offer. Now, it makes for an interesting question as to how did the committee achieve this (read local by-laws) in the 2k millennium? The millennium of nannies, insurance and more nannies!
Well I know but I’m not telling. Suffice it to say job well done. The foyer set the scene for the rest of the stay.
Check in was easy, sign-in even easier, as a well-oiled welcoming committee soon had us processed regardless of interruptions as participants from far and wide greeted each other. And once through the process, the cars were garaged in secure parking, in no time we were in our rooms with views of the Pacific Ocean, having a quiet cuppa, reading up on what Lotus 2019 had instore.
The Mantra was the perfect venue; everybody was able to park 2 cars in covered secure parking, the lifts almost went to your room, and your room was only 2 minutes from the shops and cafes of the Mooloolaba beach precinct. But there was more; not only was it well located, but the trailers were securely parked behind the local school fence (only across the road) where we were to have the Concours on Saturday.
Thursday night, as is traditional, was an informal affair, a BBQ on the Level 1 Roof which allowed any weary souls to eat early and retire to an early and blissful night. Or to party on… there seemed to be a lot of non-weary travellers still there at 9pm. Must have something to do with old friends and too many tales accumulated over the previous 2 years. Considering the Friday Track Day at Lakeside called for an early start I was a little surprised to see so many still happily chattering away.
And so Friday morning was soon on us, Lakeside hosting breakfast at 7:00am, had lots of Lotus departing Mooloolaba between 5:30 and 6:00, refuelling at the BP 7km north of Lakeside. A number of southerners spotted me and requested to follow “the local”… little did they know I’d never approached Lakeside from the north before. Dear old Mrs Google came to the rescue.
Lakeside was great! Geoff Noble, organizer extraordinaire, was even greater, single-handedly rounding up all the “wet cats” appropriately into four groups, and ensuring all participants of each group entered the circuit in order of known pace gleaned from various venues. Far easier said than done, but he managed. After lunch Geoff was so confident in our abilities not to turn the event into dodgem cars that he put himself into Group 1, setting the unachievable pace of 55.4 seconds (the remaining of the top 10 ranged between 59.2secs to 63.2 secs).
Nice of Geoff to do 6 laps in 5 minutes on a cooling track when nobody else could match their morning times. 🙂
Now Lakeside is an historic motor racing circuit, it therefore does not have the safe run off areas of modern circuits. Every time LCQ has hosted a biennial there were always requests from the “nostalgics of the world” to do Lakeside. With the circuit under threat of closure Lotus 2019 could possibly be the last opportunity, so it was decided Lakeside was to be a “goer”. With a fast straight, double apexed corners, off camber exits, and gradient changes galore it is a joy to drive, albeit one not to be taken lightly. I think most people raved about the day, finishing it with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
The non-track orientated members either enjoyed the bus trip through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with lunch at “The Edge” in Montville. As I was at Lakeside I can’t comment further, so hopefully someone else will have written something, it is a lovely area.
Friday night brought us an excellent dinner at the Mooloolaba Surf Club, a short walk along the beach from The Mantra. Similarly to the BBQ there was plenty to eat, but how come I always end up on the last table to queue at the bain-marie? 🙂 Guess I talk too much. I also loved the “dad jokes”… none of us realized Vyvyan Black is not only a master of song and trumpet, but he’s a great stand-up comedian (MC)! He’s got to be the best dark horse I’ve ever met. Luv ya Vyv.
Saturday brought us the Show ‘n’ Shine and Concours. I spotted a few hardy souls marking out the Mooloolaba School Oval at 6:00am in anticipation of 60 odd Lotus to be displayed. What a sight to see; four rows of Lotus from goal post to goal post. We had Lotus ranging from the 1950s to 2019. How on earth do you judge that? Well, a little dickie bird tells me that representatives from all states had been colluding for the past year to find an amenable grouping and a standard inspection check list. Apparently, this year the judging was easier due to the agreed system. There were a number of categories, I don’t know all the winners, but congratulations to all of them. I do know however Tony Galletly’s Lotus 11 took a truck load of awards… congrats Tony, well done! Your car is an absolute credit to your perseverance over many years (I know I brought the gearbox back from either Victoria or NSW at least 5 biennials ago).
After the Concours Lunch many participants enjoyed a drive through the hinterland over some of my favourite roads. Not only are they a pleasure to drive but there are a lot of cafes along the routes chosen by Colin McKay in his Elan. Now Colin lives on the Gold Coast, so I can only guess the Elan did a lot of kilometres over the last year.
And then there was the Presentation Dinner! The food delicious, the wine well-chosen and the band exceptional… yep, Vyvyan, along with his band The Recliners, entertained us and later had us dancing the night away.
However, the night belonged to Elisa Artioli. She has to have the best Granddad ever! Not only in 1995 did he name our beloved Lotus Elise after his latest grandaughter, not only did he give her a Lotus Elise, but he gave her the greatest introduction card ever, he gave her the opportunity of speaking all over the world, constantly meeting new people from all walks of life… what a gift! But Elisa gave us equal; she gave a delightful talk of her experiences, she fitted in as if she had been a member all her life, and Elisa was at every event she could physically attend… signing posters on Thursday, driving Winno’s S1 Elise (using the window winder for a gear lever), joining in at the Concours, and speaking to us on this particular evening. Thank you ever so much Elisa for traveling so far, for giving two weeks of your annual leave, and being such a lovely guest.
Of course the presentations were fun, no doubt there is a list of who’s who in the magazine. The theming of the room spectacular, credit must go to the committee here… especially Craig Wilson’s family; mum, dad and the kids all put a great deal in… top stuff! And then it was sold! A terrific fundraiser for Beyond Blue.
And so Lotus 2019 finished. Well done to the committee, the helpers and everyone else who put two bob in. Biennials just get better and better.
PS: If you were in the Lakeside Awards photo, I have it on good authority it has been said: “what a handsome collection of men”… I just had to tell you. 🙂