Wet track puts driving skills to test

Andrew McMullin awaits his turn on the track in his 1934 Ford V8 Indy Special with the other special cars at the Leyburn Spints on Saturday.
Andrew McMullin awaits his turn on the track in his 1934 Ford V8 Indy Special with the other special cars at the Leyburn Spints on Saturday. Jayden Brown

THEY came in their thousands with umbrellas and raincoats ready for some motor racing action, and the 19th Leyburn Sprints certainly didn't disappoint.

As many as 200 drivers of all ages tried their luck on the wet and slippery streets of Leyburn, as large crowds watched on and cheered.

Despite the rainy weather on Saturday, as many as 8000 people are estimated to have passed through the gates over the weekend for the iconic event.

Media manager Chris Nixon said the sprints were once again at capacity this year.

"This is an event that has a special historical significance," he said.

"That puts it in a highly visible position in the Australian motor racing calendar."

Although the event comes across as fun and community spirited, organisers and drivers alike insisted the sprints were extremely competitive.

Allora driver Garry O'Halloran had two runs in his 1957 Holden FE and said the rain had slowed drivers down and they weren't focused on setting any fast times

"The track was very wet and slippery," he said.

"You're a lot slower - you just can't get the traction.

Even the most experienced drivers found the conditions tough, with veteran driver of 60 years Neil McLeod reaching a top speed of only 148kmh instead of his maximum of 260.

"It was very wet and very slippery. You've got to be gentle on the throttle and gentle on the steering," he said.

Mr McLeod, who travelled from the Lockyer Valley to compete in the Leyburn Sprints, said he was driving a car he designed himself.

"It's called a Mactec Super Sports and it can go from 0-100 in three seconds," he said.

"We do all the sprints around. I started when I was 15."

While the rain may not have made for ideal sprints weather, organisers said the cars were the main attraction.

"What is most special is the calibre of competing cars. There's a huge range from racing cars to sports cars," Mr Nixon said.

"That's the thing the spectators love - seeing cars their dad or grandad may have driven."

All eyes are now on next year when the Leyburn Sprints will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Mr Nixon said it was shaping up to be a big one.

"Our 20th year will be our biggest event yet," he said.

Topics:  leyburn sprints motor racing motor sports

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