It is no coincidence that the Australian Muscle Car Masters falls on Australia’s Father’s Day weekend, and for many dads there’s would be no better way to spend their day than with the smell of vintage automotive ‘muscle’ in the air.
I arrived at Eastern Creek International Raceway, in Sydney, with my own dad at perhaps the most convenient of times, just as the Bathurst Legends took to the track for a nostalgic recreation of motor sport’s past.
As it did on that Bathurst 1000 day when Jim Richards addressed the heckling crowd as a “pack of arseholes”, the 1992 Winfield Nissan GT-R – or just Godzilla – led the field for the duration of the event, leaving little doubt that this was and still is the world’s ultimate Group A car.
As the last Nissan to be built by Gibson Motorsport, boasting Chassis Number 5, it was one of the most controversial cars ever to race in Australian motor sport, earning it the affectionate nickname, “Arsehole”.
For all the GT-R aficionados out there with their eye on a new R35 it may come as a disappointment to know the elusive and highly sought after New South Wales registration plate ‘GTR’ actually resides on a Volkswagen Touareg.
Not all GT-R’s are driven on the road, so it’s fitting that the registration plate remains with the owner of this very special example of an Nissan Skyline GT-R R32, which earned the nameplate much of its legacy here in Australia.
The race finished without incident, leaving each of the historic muscle cars on the grid relatively scratch free and intact to race another day. So precious are these machines to their owners that each team administers a thorough wash and wax following each stint out on the track.
Only one of the pension-eligible entries suffered any shortfalls with the pink Barbagallo Holden VL needing to be pushed into its garage from pit lane.
It seems every entrant was keen on having their not-so-serious side on display, meaning the whole day made for a rather entertaining and family-friendly affair.
Despite having donned a Media bib that would usually grant me the privilege of popping over barriers and into otherwise private areas, each team was more than happy to let the punters in to take a look around the pit garages.
As team mechanics and drivers tended to their vehicles, a crowd of eager onlookers was never too far away – with most teams even propping up their bonnets to give spectators a decent gander at the engine bay.
While Holden and Ford was represented in the thousands, this was certainly not merely a red and blue affair with many European entries making the cut such as Jaguar, BMW, Porsche and the ever persistent Mini.
One look at the car park told you this event was not just aimed at the ‘singlet, shorts and thongs’ wearing crowd, with Porsche 911 Turbos, BMW M3s and Range Rover Sports littered in between shiny new HSVs and FPVs.
There was good reason for this too, with most of the cars on show fetching more than their current-day luxury-performance counterparts at auction, the result of dewy-eyed youngsters growing up to realise their childhood racing aspirations.
While the classic Australian race cars were towed to the event by some rather serious machinery, most competitors arrived at Eastern Creek behind the wheel of their pride and joy – soaking up Father’s Day in the best way possible.
This was no more evident than during the parade laps where privately owned road-legal muscle cars were allowed onto the circuit, often brimming with family and friends, all queued up behind a specially prepared Lexus Hybrid pace car.
I’ll be the first to admit classic muscle cars are certainly not my forte, and since most of the cars out on the track were older than I am I couldn’t revisit fond memories of gawking at a Falcon GT-HO on my way to school – or work – or whatever it was kids did in those day.
Never having lived in that time certainly didn’t put a dampening on the spectacle for the younger generation in attendance, equally enthralled by the colour, noise and excitement as their parents were with the history, passion and legend.
If your Dad was a little underwhelmed by the socks and undies you gave him this Father’s Day, perhaps it’s time to pen in Eastern Creek next year for the Australian Muscle Car Masters.