2017 Club Motori Italia Lufra Hillclimb
One of Tasmania's main Italian car clubs, Club Motori Italia (CMI - http://cmitas.org/blog/), stages an annual hill climb that kicks off from the Lufra Hotel - at Eagle Hawk Neck, between Hobart and the once notorious penal settlement of Port Arthur - on the beautiful Tasman Peninsula. 'The Lufra', as it's simply known to southern Tasmanians, sits just above the Tessellated Pavement, a natural rock formation that bears a remarkable resemblance to a cobbled street and forms the northern end of the Pirates Bay beach.
It was against this magnificent backdrop that CMI hosted its third such event on a changeable Saturday in mid-August, 2017. The weather was, as is so often the case in Tasmania, sunny and warm, rainy and wet, and still and windy, all within one short morning. This made for some interesting motor sport, to say the least!
The Lufra hill climb is more than just a race, though; the event is a regularity trial, meaning that drivers must nominate a time within which they believe they will be able to consistently complete the course over several runs. The winner is the driver whose times are, on average, the closest to that which they nominated. As a result, all cars are evenly matched and all-out speed is not necessarily an advantage. However, that's not to say that some drivers don't set some ambitious target times!
The morning had a lovely village fair feel to it, with competitors' cars - everything from early Jaguars, an AC, a BMW, a Triumph Dolomite Sprint, an SLR Torana, a Porsche replica, Lotuses, a P510 Datsun, a Fiat, an Alfa and a Riley, through to contemporary Subarus, Nissans, a Suzuki, a Mazda and a Renault - lined up along the road in front of the Lufra and in its car park. There was also a beautiful display of classic cars, trucks and buses. Competitors, officials and spectators milled about admiring the vehicles and soaking up a moment in the sun.
Competition began while the sun was still shining, allowing drivers a quick run along the winding, fairly sharply ascending section of Pirates Bay Drive that had been set aside for the event. The course ended at the scenic lookout just short of the Arthur Highway.
It was clear from the sound of the screaming engines and the sight of gravel spitting from the cars' wheels that, regularity event or not, the competitors were intent on enjoying the freedom to push their skills to the max that only closed-roads can provide. It didn't matter what sort of car was being used, either; valuable classics and contemporary thrash-packs alike were driven enthusiastically and well, providing a great spectacle for the spectators.
Unfortunately, the following two photos are the last we're likely we're to see of motor sport stalwart Herby Burgess' long-campaigned MGB for a while, as he fell victim to a slippery wet patch immediately after this bend and rolled the car. It was a tense moment for officials and spectators alike but, fortunately, Herby emerged shaken but uninjured and talking up the benefits of roll-over protection. He was heard to say this wasn't the first time he'd skidded down the road wrong way up, so it's reasonable to suggest he knows what he's talking about!
The following images, with Herby dressed in orange, show the aftermath of the prang. The flattened windscreen shows just how close the roadway must have come to his helmeted head. However, after a little gentle massaging of the bodywork, he managed to drive the car back to the Lufra where he winched it onto its trailer.
Work beckoned for UMPH, meaning that he had to leave straight after the crash. Therefore, he can't say who won the event or if anything else happened during the remaining runs, but there's a link to the CMI's Facebook page at the top of this article that includes the day's results.
He can, however, say that it was a great day out and that he'll be back next year. He hopes to see you there, too.
U M P H