The very first time I heard the word Baskerville was at the 2016 Historic Winton race event. When a friend of mine called it ‘Basketville’, haha. It was in a passing conversation when he was trying to explain how good the Baskerville historics are. We didn’t make it in 2016 but last weekend it fell into place for us to find out.
About 20km from Hobart airport there is a bowl/amphitheatre in the center of the hills, thus where the 2km layout sprawls over its dips and elevations to form the resealed Baskerville Motor Raceway.
I haven’t driven the circuit but I would commentate a lap like this.
‘You start the lap with a slight incline up to a 90 degree right hander, then a mini straight before the incline peaks and you’re at corner 2, another right hander where the track rapidly drops back down and makes the apex a blind one, immediately a left hander finishes the “S” bend which opens out into a short straight and leads down into turns 5 & 6, 2 obtuse angle lefties before the short straight climb (Kellick hill)maybe 200 meters in length. Turn 7 is a left and a peak in altitude, from there is 2 straight sections, the former is the shorter one and the latter being the longer one are separated by a high-speed left. So half way down the big straight the track rises and then dips into the entry of the ‘shoot’ or coat hanger. (the angle of a coat hanger) which is a tight left which exits into a sweeping left and then opens up the pit straight. That is a lap from a spectator. Heres a picture anyway. And you can see the whole track from one spot.
To me, the essential recipe for good motor festivals is this. First the smell of freshly ground Arabica beans, followed by the downshift brap crackle of multiple highly tuned engines, a whisk of atomized tyre smoke and to finish off, some hair rasing, sense electrifying battles to encapsulate you in the lovely moment. (ok, ok so I love to watch racing and apparently not everyone feels like this).
Anyway this time why I liked the vibes even more was hearing that the track was under fire to be turned into housing space, until the committee raised a heap of money to save it. Great underdog story because this sort of thing has happened to many motor sport tracks around the country. anyone remember Oran park closing? or what about the temporary Longford circuit back in the day? there is heaps of them.
The racing was really good, first thing I would mention is the twisty sections in addition to the power reliant uphill straight sections made the battles between a range of different cars, tight and twisty for the smaller lesser powered cars and the uphill section and straights for the bigger more powerful cars.
I could write a million words on all the battles but I will just describe my favourite few.
The first was the fierce battle of the Adams’, between Adam Garwood in the baby blue Ford Capri and Adam Williams in Torana hatchback. Williams got the jump on the polesitter Garwood and had enough steam to defend attacks for a few laps. Though the second last lap Garwood got maximum grip on the run into the shoot, both cars were side by side on the entry but a lapped car prevented Garwood from advancing. Now any move would have to happen on the last lap. Dejavoo, Garwood gets a flying run on the out side of the corner this time, both cars powered to the line, another lapped car infront causes Garwood to go right and Williams to go left on the finish line. Williams Torana pipped Garwoods Capri by 0.075 seconds.
Another battle was similar to a David vs Goliath battle between Lachlan Thomas’ orange 1300cc mk1 Ford Escort and Phil Sheppards 3000cc silver EH holden (probably the best sounding one I have heard). Every lap the little Escort would be all over the rear of the EH, even on the straight bits it seemed to hang on quite well, but the power of the Holden six proved substantial. When the lively rear end would go sideways every now and again a quick glance and head nod to my Dad just to confirm we were both watching the same battle. love it. Both cars had a win to.
Another highlight of the weekend was the variety of spectacle cars on display. Starting off with the can am car driven by Jason White. The Mclaren me now has an 8400cc 850 horsepower engine which was installed in the interest of mechanical sympathy, in 1972 it ran twin turbo 1300 horsepower Morand Chevrolet engine.
The realtime presence of this car is mind baffling. Its outrageous chrome air trumpets that sit behind the drivers head are dream inspiring. Valued at 4 million dollars I think I heard, I was appreciative to see it thrown around the way it should be. These aren’t toys for looking at. This one car sounded amazing, I can only dream of what a full field would bring to the table in sound waves.
The Rothman commodore of John Harvey and Allan Moffat. This VL commodore battled the world in 1987 in group A world touring car championship. It won the opening round at Monza Italy and came forth at the 24 hour Spa race.
The Penske LolaT192 driven by Rob White broke John Bowes 35 year old track record at Baskerville on the weekend, by .01 of a second. It was noted over the commentary that John Bowe would be getting a phone call to come back to re break the record. In that same race, another record was broken by an Elfin 700 AF2 . Which was an ex Alfredo Costanzo car. The coolest thing about this car is that the engine is a 1600 kent which has been modified to accommodate a single overhead cam, and makes 180 to 200 hp @ 8500 rpm limit. It runs a BDA F1 spec cam. I found that out by chinwagging in the pit area to the owner.
I probably should stop telling stories about the place by now, but I have one more memorable moment. On the Sunday morning (final day) we were heading out Baskerville road in our little Hyundai I20 hire car. Which has a 1.2l 80hp motor, the thing wasn’t quick in a straight line so I was getting along nicely around the corners when all of a sudden, 2 lights appear from the fog behind us. It was in fact THE Allan Moffat driving the 40th anniversary painted mustang which was used to promote parade laps etc. So if I didn’t feel small enough in this automatic zipper car, that 2 minutes of being followed along a narrow road surely did the trick. Any way that probably wont happen again so I was happy that after 2 freaking minutes, by the time we arrived at the gates dad had worked out how to open the camera on his phone just in time to get this snap.
If you have made it this far reading, I absolutely commend you and suggest you get a hobby, like reading or restoring an old car. Maybe even take the time next year to get down to Baskerville historic motor racing festival. Check out my video also to see more of the track. Thanks for reading. Jesse