Tooborac and the Seeding Stage

V1 - Melbourne Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
96.4 km1 hour 20 minutes1.20 pm Sunday Click here

Edgar Herrmann and Dean Rainsford in the Porsche 911 are flagged off from Melbourne
(Photo grabbed from the ABC Sport video)

A large crowd had gathered at the Melbourne Showgrounds to see the 167 cars depart at one minute intervals from 12.00 midday. They then travelled through Bulla, Romsey and Lancefield to Tooborac where cars were held at the sports field before heading out onto the seeding special stage at two minute intervals. Car numbers and therefore initial starting order had been determined by the organisers supposedly on the basis of experience and reputation but to sort this out more fairly, cars would in theory start the subsequent stages in order of the times achieved on the seeding special stage. In practice it was not possible to hold the entire field and so the maximum shift forward in the starting order was one hour or 30 places, given that cars were run at 2 minute intervals.

V2 - Maudes Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
5.5 km8 minutes1.28 pm Sunday Click here

This short transport took crews over to the start of the special stage on Majors Line. It was named after the late Jim Maude, proprietor of the Tooborac Store and a well regarded rally navigator and director. In fact Jim was largely responsible for the route of the first special stage. A handful of competitors lost time on this short transport stage, which seemed remarkable - perhaps they were unable to navigate or perhaps they were reticent to leave the bitumen highway. It is worth emphasising that time was lost on the Repco on both competitive and transport stages, and at the same rate, i.e. a minute late on a transport was the same penalty as a minute late on a competitive, unlike in modern special stage rallying where 10 seconds is lost for each minute late on a liaison section. One crew also incurred an early time penalty - time could be lost just as easily by failing to nominate your correct time when early, however as the event developed, many crews also realised that they could keep within their late time limit by deliberately booking in early in order to regain late time.

V3 -Tortoise and Hare Special Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
48.34 km39 minutes2.07 pm Sunday Click here

This stage was a mixture of fast gravel and tight goldfields tracks lined with stumps, as well as a few washways and creek crossings. You could not win the event here but you could certainly lose it.

Aaltonen on the seeding special stage
Photo grabbed from ABC Sport video

Bond suffered a pucture and lost about 2 minutes. Carr also punctured near the end but still set the second quickest time. The organisers were confident that no-one would clean but in fact 3 cars did - Portman 32 seconds early, Carr 25 seconds early and Brock dead even. Fast Victorian, Mick Ellis, was next best down just 13 seconds from a lowly starting position of 93! Near the front, Blok retired in the big Falcon Ute with a broken rear axle, while Tholstrup's Chevvy Pickup broke a differential (apparently they hit a stump while looking in the rear view mirror for Portman) but it was repaired and he continued to Mount Gambier after losing more than 3 hours. The Subaru of Koseki from Japan was 87th fastest revealing that the car 14 allotted to them by the organisers was a bad joke. Gil Davis had a problem with the 180B dropping more than 6 minutes. John Bryson damaged the suspension of the Escort when apparently the accelerator jammed. He and Sonja Cable-Cumming eventually extricated themselves from the stage after dropping over an hour. Many other lowly car numbers put in good times including Rowney (Car 41), Sutton (Car 42), Mulligan (Car 56), Miettunen (Car 58), Nalder (Car 81) and Mason (Car 88), to name a few. The organisers' starting order had been shown to be a sham and the limit on the 30 positions forward movement after the seeding stage meant that some of these crews would still be behind some slower competitors.

Henrik Blok had the undistinguished honour of being the first retirement, seen briefly here at Tooborac
(Photo courtesy of Ray Berghouse, Chevron Publishing)

Further down the field, while there were some solid times by some competitors, many were dropping between 10 and 25 minutes without even having any real problems. Certainly the last 50 or so cars would have be doing the stage partally or fully in darkness. Nonetheless, there were no serious hazards, such as bogs, to unduly delay crews, so it was apparent that dozens of entrants were simply way out of their depth and it would be a long night and subsequent two weeks for many of them. Some certainly had genuine problems with punctures and mechanical failures, with eight crews other than Tholstrup dropping between 50 minutes and 1 hour 40 minutes. Some would cut and run to Mount Gambier or to Renmark while others would start booking in early on transports in order to stay within the late time limit of 2 hours to Mount Gambier and 6 hours for Renmark. The Lunney Peugeot hit a tree and failed to complete the stage and would cut and run to Bordertown, only to get bogged and then cut and run to Renmark.

Fastest times:

  1. Portman clean (32 seconds early)
  2. Carr clean (25 seconds early)
  3. Brock clean (even)
  4. Ellis 0.13 *
  5. Cowan 0.28
  6. Rowney 0.38
  7. Sutton 1.05
  8. Mehta (Aaltonen) 1.20
  9. Ferguson (Bell) 1.34
  10. Fury 1.42
  11. Miettunen 2.01 *
  12. Mulligan 2.04
  13. Mason 2.22 *
  14. Bond 2.25
  15. Nalder (Richards) 2.25 *
  16. Stewart 2.33
  17. Barth 3.02
  18. Johnson 3.06
  19. Dunkerton 3.09
  20. Meehan 3.18
  21. Alexander 3.21 *
  22. Kaitler 3.23 *
  23. Hurrey 3.37 *
  24. Maloney 3.42 *
  25. Hilton 3.47
  26. Herrmann 3.49
  27. Warmbold 3.56
  28. Finlay 4.00
  29. Faulkner 4.01
  30. Mizel 4.02
  31. Jensen 4.03
  32. Jackson 4.03 *
  33. Bird 4.03 *
  34. Watson 4.11
  35. Lund 4.15
  36. Perkins 4.16
  37. McCubbin 4.23
  38. Hodgson 5.00
  39. Roberts 5.06
  40. Loader 5.29
  41. Stanley 5.31
  42. Murray (Gelignite Jack) 5.32
  43. Kahler 5.33
  44. Beveridge 5.44
Those marked with an asterisk (*) were unable to take their true starting position due to the limit of 30 positions forward movement in the starting order.

V4 - Tooborac Shuttle Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
6.3 km25 minutes2.32 pm, out 4.00 pm Sunday Click here

The short run back to the Tooborac sports field allowed some time to refuel before scores were tallied and a departure time allocated out of Tooborac. The first car departed Tooborac at 4.00 pm. Road order was meant to be as per the list of times for the seeding stage above except for those marked with an asterisk for whom the maximum 30 position gain would see them further down the field. For example, Ellis would have slotted into road position 42, Miettunen position 13 and Nalder position 32. However, there were some strange road positions near the front, perhaps because competitors did not front at the out control at their assigned time. Carr went out behind Brock while both Sutton and Stewart seemed to be slightly further back than intended.

Next: Tooborac to Mount Gambier


Ian Richards said...

We had a dream run on the seeding stage even though we were trying pretty hard. We had been very disappointed with the organisers allocating us Car 81 as we thought we deserved a much better starting position but then no doubt plenty of others felt the same! The only way to fix this at least partially was to get a good time on the seeding stage, which we did. Although we were Car 81, we started in position 62 as a result of a significant number of withdrawals.
To be honest, a few weeks before the event Geoff Boyd and I had thoroughly surveyed the area where we knew the stage would run and had made notes of every hazard, including washaways, creeks and obvious stumps. These were by no means pace notes as we didn't know the exact route but nonethless, once we had the instructions it was easy to annotate them with our extra notes. I was to drive the stage because I had surveyed it with Geoff.
For some reason we had been let out of Tooborac ahead of Car 80 (Graham Alexander's Escort) so we were behind Car 79 (Doug Minett's Datsun 1600). We passed Doug after about 19 km and finally caught Car 78 (Denis Baker in the big P76) only a few kms before the end. He was doing a great job in such a big car and he hardly held us up at all. We got the 15th quickest time, equal with Bond who had punctured, but it was more than enough to guarantee us the full 30 places gain in the starting order so we left Tooborac the second time in position 32.

Ted Smith said...

Thank you for putting this together. There are a lot of memories long forgotten. We started badly by blowing two tyres at once on a tree root and, although we were in it for the adventure and to get back to Melbourne, the setback helped put us in the Bordertown boghole well down the field and well down in the mud!

Ted Smith car 117