Melbourne racing grandee Lex Davison won at the sensational Phillip Island circuit’s inaugural meeting in December 1956. It was thus poetic that grandson Alex should celebrate the dynasty’s relaunch of Lex’s Ecurie Australie young driver initiative by winning four races at the Victorian Historic Racing Register’s 25th Anniversary Classic event on March 6-8.
Having experienced father Richard’s ex-Guy Edwards/Alan Jones Formula 5000 Lola-Chevrolet T332 HU34 for the first time on its eve, Alex, 35 – who shares an Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz AMG with brother Will in the International V8 Supercar championship’s enduros – only lost out in the opener to Paul Stubber in his ex-Vern Schuppan March 81C Indycar. Fourteen years after he last raced a single-seater (in the 1999 Formula Ford Zetec Festival at Brands Hatch), Davison looked as if he’d been born to the Theodore Racing-liveried Lola in which his uncle Jon competed from 1977-80 and cousin James has raced in recent years.
Nowhere else are enthusiasts entertained by a wider spectrum of machines. Spanning home-built specials with charismatic names such as Monoskate and Vulgarilla to sizzling Porsche 962s from sports car racing’s Group C era, plus a daily demo of Australian V8 Supercars up to 2002, the action came thick and fast over three days and 49 short races.
The joyous mix included Peter Whitehead’s ’38 Australian GP-winning ERA R10B – in which US-domiciled Irishman Paddins Dowling won a race with panache – John Gale’s ex-Tim Schenken F1 Surtees-DFV TS9B (which fellow Aussie Neil Doyle subsequently raced with Chevrolet power in F5000) and 1.5-litre Lola-Hart THL1 and Benetton-BMW B186 turbo F1 cars.
Sports car classes brought the weekend’s closest finishes. George Nakas piloted the Blaupunkt Porsche 962 to win a gripping duel with Wayne Park in Peter Harburg’s Jägermeister version. Veteran Rusty French (ex-works De Tomaso Pantera), meanwhile, only just got the better of Porsche 911 Carrera ace Geoff Morgan.
But the up to 3-litre Historic Touring Cars provided the best racing. Bathurst’s Phillip Woodbury overcame brake and gearbox issues to score three wins in his Mazda RX-2 Capella, rival Anthony Read having generously loaned his spare ’box for the final day.
Elsewhere, Ron Tauranac and Lady Margaret Brabham were present as fans reflected on triple Formula 1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham’s career, while Bryan Thomson presided over the Ford Mustang Golden Jubilee pageant. Marcus Pye