Kingaroy's Peter Wainwright encountered some early problems at the Wondai Street Sprints on Saturday, June 11.
Kingaroy's Peter Wainwright encountered some early problems at the Wondai Street Sprints on Saturday, June 11. Keagan Elder

Slow and steady at Wondai Street Sprints

IT WAS not just caution which slowed down Kingaroy's Peter Wainwright at the Wondai Street Sprints.

Behind the wheel of his replica Ford XY Falcon GT, he found he lost power in the early runs on Saturday after, he suspected, he broke the linkage.

"I was battling to get any gears," Wainwright said.

For the past 18 years Wainwright had modified his car to match the power of the race-spec GT.

With all that time and money he was cautious at the start, especially as the track was pretty slippery on the smooth bitumen early on in the day.

Covered in dust and with no rubber from tyres smeared into the bitumen, the track offered little grip at the start of the race.

Coupled with the tight corners and chicanes, Wainwright was careful not to do anything too stupid on the track.

"I'm not too keen to wreck it," he said.

With 600 horsepower at his disposal put out through the rear, Wainwright had to be careful on the tight bends of the 1.6km track.

"It's very close to the original, it's spec-ed up to a GT," he said.

"It's supposed to have 600hp, so it's got a bit of jump.

"It doesn't take much to start sliding."

From a rallying background, Wainwright had only just made the switch to street circuits after he was influenced by close friend and Wondai Street Sprints organiser Kevin Krosch.

Wainwright used to race in the South Burnett rally series, which Krosch hosted on his property at Gordonbrook.

"(Krosch) blackmailed me, he said if you wanna do Wondai you've got to do others," he said.

As a result Wainwright bought himself a Toyota Corolla to race around the Gatton circuit.

Justin McCarthy gave his all in his Austin 7, one of the oldest cars at the meet, at the Wondai Street Sprints on Saturday, June 11.
Justin McCarthy gave his all in his Austin 7, one of the oldest cars at the meet, at the Wondai Street Sprints on Saturday, June 11. Keagan Elder

Paying tribute to racing's history

WITH almost a hundred cars entered, the Wondai Street Sprints offered a glimpse into some of Australia's rich motorsport history as Justin McCarthy took to the track as a late entry.

His lateness may have been down to getting his slow by today's standards 1936 Austin 7 to Wondai from Bribie Island.

In the past however, McCarthy explained it was a different story.

"It (the Austin 7) was the first car to win the Australian Grand Prix in 1928," he said.

This fuelled his intrigue behind the British-built timber sports car.

"I bought my first Austin 7 when I was 16 for 50 (pounds sterling), it was every penny I had," he said.

"I earned it selling chocolate and lollies at the exhibition in Brisbane."

Sixty years on, McCarthy was finally able to drive one of his beloved Austin 7s on the track.

"I've waited 'til I'm 76 to race one," he said.

While it could not reach the speeds of the more modern cars out on the track, McCarthy said the Austin 7 still had a few tricks up its sleeve.

"They're beneficial to us because they don't reach top speeds," he said.

At a guess McCarthy said he reached the max speed of 85kmh on the Wondai track.

The relatively slow speeds gave McCarthy more time to react and get the tightest possible line through the chicanes to shave precious time off his laps.

This was further shortened by the light weight of the car and its flexibility in the timber body, which allowed McCarthy to corner even tighter.

As well as racing on the track, McCarthy was also in the race to find spare Austin 7 parts against other keen collectors.

So the trip to Wondai doubled as a part-finding mission.

"We're still collecting parts to keep motoring history alive," he said.

"They're still in the bush, we're still finding them."

McCarthy urged anyone who had any spare parts to call him on 0403 122 633.