A Grand Event by Kendrea Rhodes

A Grand Event by Kendrea RhodesIt was Friday the 10th of October and the weekend weather forecast was great. There was a certain excitement about the town of Lobethal. The electric atmosphere felt like Christmas Eve and you could tell something special was coming. The streets vibrated with the rumble of engines in various stages of preparation. Every now and then, one of those beautiful machines would power by, on a test run of the 1938 Lobethal Grand Prix track, which would soon come alive once again.

Jack Muster was no exception to the excitement, but he had an extra emotion to deal with; anxiety – the thought that his tyres, ordered from Melbourne, may not arrive in time. Well, in time they were, but only just. He popped them onto his magnificent 1924 Indian Chief motorcycle and did a test run, 24 hours before the Grand Prix was to start! Incidentally, this was the Chief’s first outing in 35 years AND the first time it had been ridden on a bitumen surface.

Now that the bike was a goer, Jack needed a plan of attack for the ride. He decided on an oil smoke cloud at the start to baffle the other riders and a short cut across Tarca’s spud patch if he was falling too far behind. Prior to the race, he was warned by the other riders that if he didn’t behave they’d run him into Schubert’s dam. Luckily, he didn’t need the shortcut and the smoke disappeared as soon as the bike ran out of oil (which was a good thing for everyone else). With the camaraderie on high, Jack and his Indian Chief completed the circuits on both days, to cheers and grins from all. He said he only cleaned up the guard rail at Hairpin bend once, and in front of his family, so he was even pleased with that!

Jack said about the feeling, “you couldn’t beat it”. He was tearing up Onkaparinga Valley Road before Charleston, in the shadow of the vintage bi-planes overhead, on his 1924 Indian Chief at an acclaimed 200 kph! Life doesn’t get any better than that for Jack.

Another local who couldn’t stop smiling was Lance Watkins. He had just been informed that he would be able to ride in the famous 1934 MG K3, now owned and driven by Philip Bradey. Being an avid collector and motoring enthusiast, Lance has a scrap book of motor racing in Lobethal as big as your chook shed. He is one of the people who helped make it all possible, through sincere generosity of his historic collection and his time. Lance said the track was superb and they were able to achieve good speeds in the MG, taking the correct line on the road, especially into the S bends and corners. He couldn’t believe the remarkable support they all received from the crowds, scattered around the course. On the very first lap, Bradey’s MG was the first car around Mill Corner and into the Main St., needless to say, Lance was overjoyed. On the Sunday, Lance managed another ride around the track in Ed Farra’s MG J2 special. Lance said he couldn’t plan a better weekend if he tried.

87 classic cars and 35 classic bikes entered the grand prix, driving at least 3 laps around the 14 km course on the Saturday and then again on Sunday. If you missed it, it looks as though you might have another chance next year for its 70th anniversary. Hats off to Tony Parkinson and everyone involved in the organising and running of the 2008 Grand Prix, it certainly was a grand event.

A Lobethal community meeting, regarding the Grand Prix, will be held in November, please see the next issue for details.

Tony Parkinsons’ son, James, driving their 1948 Bedmore Special, which was originally driven in the 1948 Lobethal Grand Prix by Bill Jolly.