Phillip Island Classic – Festival of Motorsport 2023

In March, the Island comes alive for one of the biggest classic racing events – the Phillip Island Classic. It’s a true Festival of Motorsport with cars from the early years of Grand Prix to the Group A Touring Cars of the late 80’s.

Immediately after arriving at 8am, I walked the rear of the pit garages from the control tower end. Knowing I had until 9:15 till the first race, I thought I’d have plenty of time. Nah, I was wrong. I could have spent half a day in this section. The variety of cars is astounding – even though I knew it would be diverse, I’m amazed each year.

Taking in the detail of the cars, their ‘correctness’ to their racing era, and impromptu conversation with their owners, drivers or team members is one of the great things that makes this event special. Everybody has an inclusive attitude! You could have an in-depth conversation with anyone, celebrities included.

Excitement and nostalgia fuel this spectacle!

The 2023 event proudly exhibited six Formula 1 Classic Cars from Europe:

  • 1974 Surtees TS16/02
  • 1974 Hesketh 308-1
  • 1977 Shadow DN8
  • 1979 Ensign N179
  • 1980 Lotus 81
  • 1983 Tyrrell 012

There were other open wheel cars in action including a 1985 Ferrari 156/85, 1986 March 86C, 1985 Lola THL1-F1, 1980 Benetton Tyrrell, 1990 Benetton Reynard, Formula 5000’s and Formula Holden’s in a grid of 40 cars.

An extensive line-up of Historic Touring Cars, Group C and Group were spectacular to see and hear in their glory. The Historic Touring Cars, even though historic, are just as spectacular as modern day touring cars. Just because they’re old it doesn’t mean they’re conservative! Brake locks and drifts out of corners are the norm.

The Group A and C Touring Cars ran in their own event. Seeing three BMW E30 M3s battle with three Nissan Skyline GTS-Rs and a Ford Sierra Cosworth was an amazing sight that resembled those days of the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship.

Beyond the touring cars, there was also prototype cars in the form of Group C Sportscars, which unfortunately didn’t get on track… Two mighty Porsche 962s – The 1988 24 Hours of LeMans third place Blaupunkt Porsche driven by John Winter, Frank Jelinski and Stanley Dickens (this car is for sale by Dutton Garage). And the 1987 Leyton House Kremer Racing Porsche.

I’ve produced a huge photo gallery from the event, please enjoy 😊


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