Newcastle to Victorian High Country - nov 2013
Well I got the bug. I had to do another big trip in the car.
And I had the perfect excuse to do it.
Targa High Country 2013. I'll quickly explain what the hell that means.
Targa is a series of large, pointy end of the stick, tarmac rallies in Australia. High Country is one of the supporting events (two to three days) leading up to the crushing five~six day Targa Tasmania. I've been exceptionally lucky that I've been able to service crew for a 240z that is at the high end of the Classic competition for five or so rallies.
Anyway, on with it.
Once again the MY04 WRX is the weapon of choice for the road trip.
This time it also will be acting as a service car and a mobile youtube editing station. It's going to have to drive me to Victoria and back, support myself and my equipment, go at a cracking pace down some formidable tarmac rally stages.
A simple route, I have to link up with the rest of the crew at Richmond, the Datsun about 30min from there at Holsworthy in the morning and then dash down to Mansfield/Mt Buller.
Prep was easier this time. I wouldn't be sleeping in the car but on the other hand I'll be pushing it's performance a hell of a lot more. I learnt from a quick run and an 'Oh fuck.' moment on Putty Road that the current pads would not put up with repeated spirited attacks on freshly opened rally stages.
I was in good company and it was a hell of a good test for the car.
It had to cool down for about 20min before it was safe for another run. I won't be using Bendix again.
QFM A1RM Pads went in. Things improved and thank god they did considering the punishment I was about to subject them too. I've brought that pad for my cars going forward and it's excellent but dusty for the money.
On that note if you want a quick, fun drive and you're in that area, here is the old stomping area of Putty road. Https://goo.gl/maps/kJMfjZ8CcXN2
There are other good roads nearby but that's a article for another day.
Before I knew it I was chasing GoPro parts, a Y 1 to 2 adapter for the car's 12v system and I managed to score a bunch of free SD cards from work. Great success!
Driving to Richmond was a good shakedown of the car. No faults, no fuss. It was ready.
It ran on Andriod and it was super responsive. Also stopped me speeding. So win~win.
One of the few advantages of being 'Clever Dick' was that I got to play with nearly every GPS as it came out. The TomTom GO 500 was a seriously big step up in segment of technology that is rapidly becoming obsolete thanks to the increasing capability and reliability of smart phones.
It would be just under 2 years before I had a chance to go on another big road trip and this would be the last one with a dedicated GPS. Instead I swapped the old double din out and bam. I had google maps in all it's glory right in the dash of the car. It's pretty amazing how quickly technology is improved.
I followed the truck baring the rally car till the outskirts Albury, I then shot off on my own, keen on getting to my favourite place on Earth, the Victorian High Country.
We lucked out with accom. Smack bang on top of Mt Buller. We had views and more or less the entire mountain to ourselves for a few days.
We even had our own pub/keg.....
Seriously. Place is picturesque.
These have to be the best shots of the blue WRX and it was the peak of my time with it before the insane Brisbane hail storm of 2014 brutally killed the car. I seriously think that it was robbed of a lot of good kilometers and an eventual growth to being an MY05 STi in all but name with an MY05~07 interior swap but that's life.
Now the reason why I was here.
A 1972 240z Datsun with a 3.4L bored, stroked and more or less utterly customised but still carby fed L28.
This is the car that got me into cars. It's driven and nav-ed by two of my mates both them and it are blindingly fast. This would be my third rally in crewing for the car and the first rally that I would be driving myself around. I couldn't wait.
The Team Legacy Datsun in all it's 2013 glory.
If you want to see more of the 240z, have a ganda here: Https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCawyJNsmljq-bpM1o3Fkjww
Or just google team legacy assist youtube.
It's a car that traditionally has a lower budget than most of the teams on the rally and yet it manages to punch way higher than it's weight. I've seen it out pace GTRs, Evos, Vipers and every flavour of Porsche. Even a few WRXs.
It's a good bit of kit is what I'm trying to say and I'll have to write something about it sooner later because it's proper amazing.
Would I trade the WRX for a 240 though?
Na. Not a chance. As I said in the last article, the GD platform is the greatest car platform ever. Of all time. Sure a Datto might be cooler, but can it fit 5 idiots in and still be fast? No. No, it can not and sometimes I need to do that for reasons.
Bacon grease on the camera again.
Targa supplied further proof of the GD rex being great, with plenty of STi, Spec C and Group N rex on show.
Spec C is best spec.
Photo taking was low on this trip as I was effectively working my ass off driving to various spots or cutting gopro footage for the youtube channel. However here are the key highlights.
Jim Richards is racing legend in Australia for all the right reasons. He is also a really nice guy and remains approachable by even the poorest, filthiest service crew (i.e the Legacy 240z crew). He is the one Porsche driver I will cheer for in Targa.
He also does rally recce in is Porsche which is towing is racing Porsche. Fucking. Outstanding. I think that's a GT2 in the picture. He is kicking around in a Cayman GT4 these days in Targa.
More people need to be like Jim Richards is what I'm trying to say here.
The other guys got salad. So I did I. Honest. That bacon is from the Witch's Brew in Mansfield which makes the best BLT 'sammich' and hot chocolate in the world. You can find it here:
Seriously. Go there. It's great. I go there every morning when we do Targa HC so I have breakie/lunch. It's that good.
On that note, Mansfield is a fucking strange place at times in a good way. I have no idea who would wear that but I would like to meet them so I can find out why.
Not pictured: tears when go pro studio crashes.
This was my 'office' for the week or so. Rallysafe tracking for car position and GoPro studio (I've finally successfully replaced that app. Hopefully) on the laptop and a ton of GoPros and my phone charging. I feel sorry for the cars alternator. In 2015 I came up with a better system for keeping the GoPro's charged and readied but at this point I was still learning by doing.
I need to move to somewhere where that readout is more common than the 36 degrees I see frequently in QLD.
We kicked ass during the opening shots at Mansfield. The next day was the first day of rallying and holy shit it was cold at the top of Mt Buller. It was actually -2~-3 but I didn't get a shot before it started to warm up.
Looks legi... wait sec.
So cold that it was icey. Very. Icey.
The car responded to the high attitude and cold air brilliantly. I had a blast going down Mt Buller.
This is what Buller looks like during bad weather by the way. It's wild and a hell of a drive at legal speeds, let alone full pace notes rally pace.
Yes they did spin on the way up on 2015. It was still one of the faster times. That car has apparently got 1000+ of some measurement of torque and the cracked blocks and fractured cranks to prove it. It goes up hills fast. Very. Fast.
It did warm up further down the mountain which is great considering the field is on sticky summer slicks. However you gotta go go down and back up the mountain everyday which lead to chaos.
About a day before the rally kicked off, there was a helo going nuts over the mountain. Like some seriously ballsy flying. "That guy is fucking mad." I may have said aloud.
Anyway he monster-ed all the kickass flying and he then got caught in a nasty updraft that destroyed the helo. This cemented my attitude of never getting on one.
They only fly because physics doesn't know how to deal with such an abomination.
In my opinion what happened to him next was scarier. During the uphill run on day one, it got icey and cold. Tyres switched off. Brake temps went to the shitter. R35 GTRs where understeering into barriers. Shit was crazy.
This is the what happened next bit.
Seriously close shave.
You could not get closer to disaster. Both driver and nav walked away. Apparently the car is repaired and back to it's full glory. Good stuff.
During the rally I had some seriously good times. I was working hard but racing from stage to stage, cracking the car down freshly opened roads and following some seriously nice cars was heaven on earth. I was 'stuck' behind this Aston while I followed the 240z down a transit stage. Good times.
I would love to own one of these but I could never justify it. Well maybe as a tow car. That's a good reason right? Riiiiight?
That Jag is a work of art and is one of my all time Targa faves. That V12! If you ever make it to a Targa street stage, keep an ear out for it.
The Datto kicked ass and took names over the weekend. 1st in Late Classic Handicap and 3rd in Classic Outright.
And here I'am. Tired as hell, sunburnt and drunk to the point that I thought buying this jacket was a good idea.
For the record I've never worn that jacket again. I have worn the crap out of the beanie though. Stylish shit.
Heading home the next day was business as usual by that point. I won't bore you with the details.
What I will bore you with is this map.
Yes this is from 2015. Most of the stages are the same though.
If you want a driving holiday in the south east of Australia, go to Mansfield. You will strike gold everywhere you go and it's a hell of a good base to operate out of.
Going up and down Mount Buller is always a good time. Just watch out for crazy fit cyclists and ice/sle on colder days.
Barwite/Bridge Creek merges almost seamlessly into Tolmie/Powers Look out on the way to Whitfield. It's a great finale if you are looking at driving back into NSW on the way home. The look out's pretty good if you can brave a bit of gravel getting there.
If you want a good way south, going from Mansfield to Eildon via Jamieson is highly recommended. It's a punishing rally stage that you can drive on every day legally. It really pushed the WRX when I took it out there and I was keeping everything fairly legal.
Like to the point where I had smoke pouring out of my calipers. It was blast. Highly recommend.
Sydney at it's finest. Or dreariest.
Finally I stopped at Sydney on the way home for a beer with an old mate of mine. After doing Newcastle to Adelaide and back in 5 days, this trip was way easier, even with dealing with a Targa in between.
I did learn from this campaign that the along with increasing driver/nav workload, the GoPro's battery was the real limit on our footage.
For the 2015 campaign I figured out a way to keep the units charged via small lithium ion battery packs that I could swap out at the lunch stops.
Combine that with at 64gb card and voila, you get a camera you can shove on in the morning, double check at the 1st stage and then no have to worry about till lunch time. I think I got a memory card/battery swap for two cameras down to about 10 min which is nice if the car is in a hurry to get somewhere.
Anyway, that was the 2013 Victoria trip. I give it 10/10, would roadtrip again.