Accidents aplenty at Australia's toughest hillclimb in Noosa
AUSTRALIA'S toughest hill climb.
So claims Noosa's bi-annual motor sport extravaganza, and who could argue as yet another piece of twisted metal returned to the pits under a searing hot sun.
Last weekend's Southern Cross Sheds Noosa Hill Climb 2016 Summer Challenge may have seen the fastest cars complete the 14 corner 1.5km course in less than a minute, but for all drivers and spectators the event turned into an endurance affair to rival the Le Mans 24 Hours.
On countless occasions the red flags came out as yet another driver came unstuck on the unforgiving Gyndier Dr track, littering the road surface in metal, plastic and engine fluids. Out came the marshals' brooms, and up came the tow truck and ambulance crew to check over another inconsolable driver.
With a halt in the action, race-suited drivers boiled in their own sweat until the green light was seen once more, while spectators sought shade, ice creams and chilled drinks to battle the 33C heat endured during Saturday and Sunday's action.
On a positive note, when race cars stayed on the black stuff the action was sensational. A hot and grippy track ensured rapid times up the twisty hill, the drivers' skill and bravery seeing cars skirting the concrete walls by millimetres at times.
And what a mixed field of racing cars. Replica Formula 1 and Formula 2 single seaters, motorcycle-engined hill climb specials, tiny classics from the 1930s and modern weapons such as a BMW M2 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Then there were the real peace shatterers. A 1979 Jaguar XJS, 1959 Watson Indy Roadster, widebody Porsche 934 replica and V8 Ford Falcons and Mustangs. It was real fingers-in-the-ears stuff as these beasts fought for grip off the start line, their big-muscle noise an organ-shaking delight for the gathered car enthusiasts.
The weekend's quickest time was 51.73 seconds up the 1500m course (an average speed of 104kmh from a standing start) by perennial speed master Michael Von Rappard in his 1992 Dallara Hayabusa F392 single seater.
But such fast times came at a cost to many. While I waited in the pit lane for my next run I could only look on in pain and sympathy as a 1978 Farrell Sports single seater, 1972 Triumph TR6 and 2004 BMW M3 returned on the back of a tow truck with substantial damage. A highly valuable Elfin Streamliner MS8 was also looking rather sorry for itself at the top of the hill, its attractive rump sadly redesigned against a 2.5-tonne concrete block.
It was announced over the loudspeaker on Sunday that this number of accidents was unheard of during a Noosa race weekend.
Australia's toughest hill climb? Seems this year Noosa lived up to its fearsome reputation and then some.