THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.11 / 12
  November / December 2000

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Mini Racing alive and well!

It’s been a busy time for the No 33 Group Nc Morris Cooper S and Team Spark.

Since the Lakeside Historics early September the car has competed at the final round of the HRCC Group N series at Lakeside October 28 &29th a SPARC sprint meeting at the Norwell circuit (venue of the MOC Inc 1999 Show& Shine) and on the weekend of 11th & 12th November we ran at the Historic Noosa Hillclimb 2000. Luke competed at the Lakeside and Noosa event while Dan ran the Norwell event. I missed out again. Looks like we will have to just build another car.

All three events were extremely enjoyable. Lakeside and Noosa produced high numbers in entries, with some great racing and fabulous cars entered. Dan was most impressed with the Norwell circuit for a Mini and with the way #33 handled the track. The No 33 is performing at its peak after the little hiccup prior to the Historic meet in September. Warren Smith at MR Automotive is not being bugged with the sight of our car in his workshops.

There is talk with fellow Mini competitors that at least another 4 to 6 new Minis may be lining up on the Group N grids for 2001. If this is the case we could be seeing around 10- 12 cars, the larger of any one make. If this is the case we may even see separate Mini races in Group N as well as running with the main feature races for Group N. What a sight this would be after all these years. Lets hope.

We would like to hear from anyone wishing to race a Mini in Group N or know of someone in the process of building a car for 2001 you can contact Keith Spark on A/H 0755 220008 or email: You can run the round nose version or even a Clubman up to 1972 year of build as a Clubman GT.

Rd 5 Historic Group N Championships “Queensland Cup” – Lakeside 27 & 28th October

The last of this year’s championship rounds for the HRCC Group N’s. Saturday saw two practice sessions and one 5-lap race. Sunday two 10 lap races were held. Saturday’s practice and race saw very warm conditions giving some other class of vehicles some steamy problems, whilst Sunday saw a bit of a mixed bag with the first of the 10 lap in damp conditions and the second 10 lap race in dryer conditions.

Four Minis were entered, Ken Nelson, Darren Borg, John Stratton and Luke Spark. John Stratton was unfortunately a non-starter, however son Brad didn’t need too much convincing to step into John’s car. Minis represented the most of a one make in a field of 25 cars. A good quality field of cars once again at this meeting for Group N. Next year is looking good.

Two practice sessions were held in the morning with Ken Nelson recording the best Mini time of 65.4 followed by Darren Borg 66.2 Luke Spark 67.1 and Brad Stratton 67.2. Ken Nelson found some problems with the new motor from the previous meeting overheating or more to the point a loss of water from the tank, but still managed the fastest Mini time. It was a great effort to get to the track as the car suffered heavy front damage at the September Historics when he and Fred Sayers hit head on out of karussel. A good effort to get the car repaired in time.

The grid line up saw Ken Nelson on grid position # 8, Darren Borg on 15, Luke Spark on 16 and Brad Stratton on 18 from a field of 23 cars. With practice over the racing commenced in the PM of Saturday.

Event 7 was a 5 lap scratch race run in quite warm conditions. Ken Nelson was the best placed of the Minis at the pointy end of the field, finishing in 7th position. A good effort as he was still experiencing loss of radiator fluid to the tune of nil left by the time the race had finished. Brad Stratton, Darren Borg and Luke Spark had a very close race finishing 12, 13 & 14, Brad some 3 seconds ahead of Darren and Luke, while the full race time difference between Darren & Luke was only .8 of a second. A good run by the Minis. It was a welcome return for Brad. Hopefully we will see both he and John in a Mini next year as John is currently building a second Group Nc Mini.

Event 14 Queensland Cup Race Rd 1. A 10 lap on the Sunday saw the rain clouds descend on Lakeside prior to this race. By the time the race got under way the track had dried out somewhat to what it was for the previous few races before the Group Ns, however the times reflect that the track was still slippery. Brad Stratton was seen by fellow competitors doing a rain dance before this race as he said he loves the wet in a Mini. Glad he likes the wet. Brads time for this race was .1 quicker than his practice times. Obviously he does like the wet.

A yellow flag under Dunlop and Hungry Corner after Alan Boughen Ford GT speared off the track under Dunlop punching the armco at a great pace. Car badly damaged driver okay. A Mini driver (name withheld) seen passing on inside of Dunlop missing the yellow flag. Visit to Clerk of Course for rap over knuckles and explanation. Oops, sorry Mr C of C. Ken Nelson finished 6th, Brad Stratton a fine 9th, Luke Spark 12 and Darren Borg 13th after again a close battle.

Event 24 Queensland Cup Race Rd2 The second of Sundays 10 lap races run in much drier conditions. This was a very exciting race, especially from a Mini point of view. Ken Nelson was quick off the line from the rest of the Minis mixing with the bigger cars up front, but unfortunately had to reduce the pace from lap 8 to the end with once again overheating problems. His last 3 laps were in the 70 to 72 bracket. He still finished in a well deserved 9th position. Back in 13, 14 & 15 position a real Mini battle was on between Darren Borg Luke Spark and Brad Stratton, with the three nose to tail with each other. Luke Spark and Brad Stratton side by side under Dunlop into Hungry corner, then nose to tail down the straight to do it all again the next lap.

While all this was happening the Minis were closing on positions 10 Lotus Cortina, 11 Holden EH &12 Ford Escort TC. Darren Borg having his hands full trying to pass the EH and Escort as well as trying to keep Luke and Brad behind him. It was a great dice with the Minis, one of the best seen for a while. Brad Stratton’s desperate move on the last lap onto the front straight had to be seen to be believed. His exit speed from the corner was so quick he had to take a desperate passing move to avoid running up the rear of the cars in front by driving onto the grass on the outside of the circuit keeping the car straight (well almost) and move up past three cars before merging onto the black stuff again. In his effort to regain entry to the track the other cars re passed.

Across the line it was Ken Nelson 9th, Darren Borg 13th Brad Stratton 14th and Luke Spark 15th a 1.1 second gap from 13th to 15th. Nice and close Mini racing.

A good weekends racing run by the QRDA with the Minis putting on a good show. Well done guys.

Historic Noosa Hillclimb 11th & 12th November.

This is the third time this event has been held and the first time entered for the Spark team. The event is held for Historic cars and Invited cars only. It is a terrific venue and extremely well run and organised by the HRCC & Noosa Beach Classic Car Club. For those who haven’t been as a spectator or entrant I highly recommend you attend next year’s. There are some fantastic cars competing over the weekend. From open wheelers to sedan cars, cars from the 1920’s to the 70’s and early 80’s. Minis to Mustangs to old Ford V8 specials. Some really beautiful cars to be seen put through their paces up the hill. We even saw Mr Dick Johnson & son Steven Johnson enter in a Lotus Cortina. Another special guest was Kev (Big Rev) Bartlett.

At the time of putting this together I can’t give any times or placings for the Minis competing. Official results to follow. The Minis entered were of – Darren Borg, Bill Westerman, Jill & Ken Nelson, Luke Spark, Tristan Fitzpatrick, Matthew McGrath, Steven Bates, Bruce Warnett & Brian Gallwey. ( 9 Minis not a bad effort). There were 6 in Group N, 5 in pre 65 Touring cars & 1 in touring cars 1966 –1972.

It is not only a great weekend of motor racing, but also a very social one. Some 145 cars had entered for the weekend. The venue site is in very picturesque surroundings using the old Noosa – Cooroy Road that winds its way up over the range. The course is a 1.5Km section of bitumen road, with approx 12 corners, sweeping, tight corners and chicanes. A very tough but exciting Hillclimb. On both days the weather was fine and warm.

Matt McGrath who is only 17 put in a great effort. He has an immaculately prepared Austin Cooper S and went away a trophy winner in Group N 0 –1330cc class. Well done Matt.

You thought Darren Borg’ car was loud at Lakeside. You should have heard it in and around the hills at Noosa. Enough to frighten off any wildlife in the area for good. Seriously though it sounds great, just like the way the Minis used to sound many years ago. In fact no mufflers were used, at least Darren has a hot dog on his. The standard of presentation with the Minis was excellent and they looked great in the reserved area for them that became known as ‘Mini Ville” When we arrived on the Friday to set up we asked the lady at the gate where would they like us to park and the answer was to just look for Mini Ville on our right as we entered the pits. Wasn’t hard to find.

Jill Nelson struck a minor problem with a blown head gasket in the Austin Cooper S, however she got husband Ken into gear pronto and the head gasket was replaced in very short time to continue on. In fact the head gasket had blown at the start line on one of Jill’s runs, with Jill wondering why she had to rev the hell out of the car to keep it going. Jill still was within one of her best times on that run. Ken Nelson felt he deserved a run up the hill for his repair efforts and on his first run, recorded one of the fastest times in his class. Got to find out what Jill puts in his coffee. (It ain’t two lumps of sugar)

The #33 ran well all day with no problems what so ever. We fiddled with suspension settings and tyre pressures during the two days as an exercise for next year. Luke’s times weren’t as competitive as he would have liked, however this was his first Noosa Hillclimb and he dropped some 10 sec from his first run to the last run of the day which he was more than satisfied with.

Apart from this no problems were encountered with the other Minis and all were put back on the trailers in one piece on the Sunday. Always a nice sight. A few cold ales with fellow competitors then it was back to the Gold Coast. Top weekend had by all.

I would like to see the Mini Owners Club Inc next year include a few of the historic events held here in Queensland as part of the calendar and support the Mini racers who are also members of our club. Consideration to attend the all Historic Meeting ( June/July?) Noosa Hillclimb, Lowood Sprints etc. It would be nice if we could make next years historic meeting a commemorate for the Mini in Australia as done for Ford at Lakeside this year. Contact can be made with the HRCC on any of these events for discussion. I would also like to see a MOC Inc banner on show when the Minis compete at the various venues. We also welcome any MOC club members to make themselves known when attending any of our race meetings.

That’s it for this year from the Spark Team. We trust all members have a safe and Merry Christmas.

Long Live Mini Racing
Luke, Dan & Keith Spark