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The 1995 "Safety Fast! Run", organised for the third year running, by a combined M.G. Car Clubs committee, was supported by over 125 M.G. enthusiasts who fronted on a Saturday morning to face the starters flag in 60 M.G.s the vehicles ranged from a 1934 J2 through a Supercharged PA, PB, several TCs, a Y tourer, TD, 2 TFs, many MGAs and the usual assembly of MGBs and one each of an usual assembly of MGBs and one each of an MGC GT. and an MGB GT. V8.
The 2 day event promised to be enjoyable as the weather man had forecast clear sunny skies and gusty easterly winds. The traditional sponsors start archway was located on a lawn area adjacent to the car of the Joondalup Falcons Football stadium in the NW suburbs of Perth.
Having been advised by wifey, that she was not keen to participate, I arranged to take my partner from the recently held Classic Car Rally, Phil Salter, along for the ride. Phil is a Standard Triumph man, however, his cheerful personality and love of "all" cars classic, allowed me to return the favour of his previously offered and successful (3rd outright) sponsored ride, without any misgivings of taking along an interloper.
It was agreed to use Madam's MGC GT as our wheels for the weekend. The dust cover was duly removed and the "Tartan Terror" was checked and prepared for the event. The car having had further development on the cooling system and with newly overhauled front suspension was hopefully going to contribute to a comfortable, hassle free run.
A flip of a coin put Phil behind the wheel initially. I had the task of sorting out the navigation and logging observations along the route.
The first day run, organised by members of the M.G. Owners Club, headed north up the coast road towards Lancelin, but with several detours inland on bitumen back roads through market garden territory. There were a couple of tricky observations to be logged, one related to the 10th Light Horse heritage trail, catching out 80% of the field, including ourselves!
The tea and biscuits stop was at the pleasant country town of Gingin, (the annual venue for the British Car Rally). The route then proceeded east via Bindoon, then north along the Gt Northern Highway to our overnight stop at the fascinating mission settlement run by St Benedictine Monks at New Norcia, located approximately 110 kms NNE of Perth.
This monastery township was established in 1846 by Serena Salvardo, a Spanish Monk sent to Australia as a missionary. He trekked north from the Swan settlement of Perth and made first contact with the native Aboriginals in the area that became the existing monastery site.
The size and grandeur of this township in its picturesque valley is testimony to a very determined, dedicated and resourceful Holy order.
We were allocated our beds for the night, however, any ideas of a restful afternoon had already been dashed as the organisers still required an intimidating 2 pages of questions to be answered. It literally dictated that a guided tour, either official or individual, was required in order to seek out and provide the details, all based on the history of the township.
Another flip of the coin sent Phil on his way, pencil and question paper in hand!
This left me with the opportunity to explore aspects of the early history of this unique community, that were of personal interest. Only 1 crew answered all the questions correctly! A couple of crews chose to give their own answer interpretations. These were not exactly what the organisers had in mind but were certainly given plenty of light-hearted thought!
The unique Hotel, converted from the original visiting parents guest house and licensed in 1951, laid on a happy hour at 4.00 p.m. The proceedings were enlivened by a young lady dressed in the most outlandish leopard skin leotards, who sang and played a saxophone, accompanied by pre-recorded backing music. As unlikely as the mixture sounds, her vitality, talents and choice of music ensured a very appreciative audience for the session in the pub and later evening after the dinner.
The highlight of the evenings proceedings was an informative and amusing address given by one incumbent Monks, who very quickly dispelled any fears of retribution for us 'heathens' who were quaffing wine that was available with our excellent dinner. The night maintained its great atmosphere, with the aforementioned young lady being able to keep every one on the dance floor, until close to midnight by playing and singing to hits from the 50s and 60s.
Day 2 dawned bright and sunny after a restless night, caused by some noisy after midnight revellers, the unrelenting quarter hour peel of the monastery bells, and passing road trains! However, all was forgiven after the enormous country breakfast was consumed and forgotten entirely at the sight of all the M.G.s lined up ready for the 0930 hrs departure.
With Phil now in the unaccustomed role of navigator, we headed further north on the Gt Northern Highway and then circled to the east via several mid northern wheat belt townships to finish at Toodyay, a heritage town 85 kms NE of Perth, for lunch.
The route instructions were itinerised as cumulative distances, unfortunately my novice navigator assumed the instructions were consecutive. The result was an unscheduled additional 60 kms loop, back tracking to compete in a driving test in the town of Calingiri, set by the TC Owners Club, who had organised the day's run. The blindfolded driver, guided by the instructions of the navigator, had to negotiate a slalom course on the local grass 'Footy' oval. The lack of trust displayed by some husbands, to spouses, was clearly evident in some of the hilarious performances. We were by now at the back of the field, so had plenty of opportunity to plan our effort which resulted in a credible 38 second run, only 5 secs slower than the FTD.
The route continued, winding through undulating farm lands, still displaying winter rain greenery, albeit, fast receding into the harsh dry colours of summer. The roads were quick, with sweeping curves and generally in good condition, this enabled us to put the MGC's power to good use, catching up on lost time.
During the days run the navigators were kept entertained by having to compose a limerick and answer other questions in a light hearted attempt at improving our word vocabulary. There was also one 'iffy' question on the AFL Football, which had most crews scratching their heads!
Before the lunch break at Toodyay could be enjoyed, crews had to negotiate another novelty driving test. This comprised of a slalom requiring both forward and reverse transiting of alternate tyres over a series of timber planks. Our performance was not very noteworthy as the GT shape makes for restricted vision and the now rather hot 6 cylinder engine started stalling at the most inopportune moments! We did not incur any penalties, but were a bit off the pace!
The final section of the day's route took us south through Muresk, via back roads to the other famous heritage town of York. An incorrect distance quoted by the organisers had many M.G.s back tracking looking for a road junction right, that in fact was a T junction right, further down the Clackline road. In this instant the instruction had been quoted as consecutive in error!
The final driving test in the Castle Hotel car park involved both driver and navigator having to place quoits over posts whilst negotiating a slalom forwards and then in reverse. Once again our performance was hindered by GT visibility, the continuing hot stalling engine and the myopic vision (and aim) of the driver who missed one of the posts with his last rope quoit.
The finale of a great 2 days of M.G. camaraderie came with a couple of ice cold beers and an on time presentation at the Hotel. After all the prizes were handed over and some of the adjudged winning limericks were read, it was time to head the 100 kms or so, back to Perth.
It had certainly been a very relaxing, fun weekend of Safety Fast! motoring. Everyone who participated was a winner. Our sincere thanks to the combined committee. It was also great to see so many young faces and owners amongst the crews, for it is their enthusiasm that will keep the marque alive in the future.
My partner was suitably impressed with the performance of the MGC GT, which returned an overall 31 mpg and was cruised often at 110 mph! My own personal lasting memory will be the sight of the J2 and PA, weaving along at 60 mph, the occupants in goggles, scarves and windcheaters wearing grins as wide as the country side in which we were traversing.
See you on the blacktop.