The Tao of Chuck.


2023 Mt Tarrangower Hillclimb report.

This year’s Inns Motors Mt Tarrangower Hill climb, which for many is one of the premier events of the year was run on the weekend of 14-15 October. After the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events due to Covid and bad weather, this year’s entry list was fully subscribed. And once again, members of the Competition Team journeyed to Maldon to take on the hill.

Saturday dawned cool and dry, and as expected, the usual chaos ensued with a somewhat late start probably due to the fact it takes a while to scrutinise 93 cars. Competitors lined up for their practice runs in a somewhat “loose” order, a point of which was made on Sundays drivers briefing. Team times were indicative of the times that could be expected on Sunday. Peter Thompson posting a 53.1 and a 52.8 that promised great things and Horrie Duniam putting the fear of God into himself with runs of 51.8 and 51.3 were particularly noteworthy.

Somewhat unfortunately, Brendan Hall discovered he had a hole in his radiator and spent the afternoon affecting repairs. More on that later.

Saturday night, members of your competition team retired to the famous Kangaroo Hotel in Maldon for dinner. Many of those present, and including your humble correspondent, watched in awe as The Magnificent Horrie, a.k.a. the “Caliph of Conversation” charmed all and sundry with his eloquence and wit. His bravura performance on Saturday night was an stupendous example of just how to endear oneself to the owners and bar staff – especially the bar staff – of our favourite hotel, ensuring our welcome return next year. Bravo!

An early start on Sunday for another brief round of scrutineering and the competition started. The track was drying, and early times up the hill represented that.

Jedi Master Deahl seemed off his usual pace with a best time of 56.8, but the Deahl Mobile was suffering valve bounce, so faster times faded into impossibility. Although competing in different classes, all eyes were on the Olympian struggle between Peter Thompson and Graham Ruby for best time up the hill, with “Hermes” Thompson at 50.0 pipping “Zeus” Ruby at 51.3, with contestants taking second and third in their respective classes.

Team Hall have now been nominated as the new recipients of the “Horries Horror” Trophy (previously so ably held by Team Wurdibuloc) for trackside repairs. Dan Hall in the Midget posted a disappointing early time of 71.9 on his first run, with his engine bogging down in fourth gear. Stripping down his fuel pump, an inordinate amount of what can only be described as “crap” (which is, after all a technical term) clogging the integrated fuel filter in his fuel pump was discovered. Needless to say, a faster time of 57.4 resulted.  A punctured radiator was no impediment for Brendan and his Fraser Clubman, posting an excellent 51.7 and taking third in class behind “Hermes” Thompson. Is there no repair than cannot be accomplished with JB Weld and Duct Tape? (Handy hint to younger players – bonus points can be accrued if you can get irrigation components into your trackside repairs!)

Recovering well from the broken Panhard rod after the Winton Track day, Craig Ballinger in the Midget improved his times all afternoon with a best time of 55.8. Brendan Sullivan again demonstrated consistency and reliability and secured second place in Group 20 with a best time of 55.0. Chris Freeman in the GT posted 55.7, demonstrating a reliable performance we would all do well to emulate. Interestingly, positions 2, 3 and 7 – 10 in class 21 were all taken by our competition team members (Peter Thompson, Brendan Hall, Chris Freeman, Craig Ballinger, Graham Deahl and Dan Hall respectively) which, you must admit, is an excellent team showing.

Horrie Duniam has finally tracked down the nagging issue that had been hobbling his MGA (a faulty charging system that appeared to be triggering the rev limiter at about 3800 rpm) and the Jaguar engine was now on full song – posting his best time yet on his first run, a 49.6 and taking his first class win. He then stated, somewhat wide eyed, that “my car has a couple of extra seconds in it. My heart doesn’t.” and subsequent times were increasingly slower. Apparently, imagination can be counterproductive to continuing fast times?

And finally, your humble correspondent walked away not having broken anything and a best time of 75.8 – the gap between second and third gear proving a bit of an impediment on a hill climb.

Two full runs for all classes were accomplished but as later in the day, a slight shower made the top of the track a little greasy and the organisers elected to pull the pin on the third run for safety reasons.

Tired but happy, and with an impressive representation in the winner’s circle for all classes the team was competing in, the 2023 Innes Motors Historic Hillclimb came to a close. A very successful weekend for all concerned.

On a more personal note – the drive home on Monday was, shall we say, interesting and as an MG newbie I offer it for your amusement. Team Wurdibuloc stopped at Newstead for coffee on the way home; I was following Horrie because my phone was flat and therefore, no Google maps. “Here” says I to the Baron of Blather (another Saturday night sobriquet), “Can you take my phone and charge it?” So, sans phone, and trying to balance a coffee and a toastie in the MG (which has no cup holder) I look up to see that Der Meister der Maschinen – with my phone on board – has disappeared and is nowhere to be seen. So – no Horrie to follow, and no phone. And only a very sketchy idea of which way to go home. Hmmm. What could possibly go wrong?

About 20k short of Creswick, Huey the Weather God did his usual bit of bastardry and the heavens opened up. I’ve just replaced all the wiper components, but the poor little things couldn’t keep up with the deluge and I had to slow right down just to see where the road was. Oh, and gentle reader – Jedi Master Deahl’s statement “if you go faster than 30 in the rain then no rain will enter the cockpit”?  Pure, unmitigated bollocks. So picture this. Wet, cold, no phone and no clue? There may have been a little swearing. To make matters worse, coming into Creswick, she started to misbehave – the engine started stuttering, losing power, backfiring and popping. Maybe the downpour was so heavy, I’d accumulated some water in the fuel tank? Or Mr Lucas again demonstrating some of his finest weatherproof features?

Again. Cold, wet, no phone and no clue. Well, thinks me, if she dies, I’ll just get RACV Roadside Assistance, they’re only a phone…

Oh, bugger.

However, like the great hearted little thing that she is, she manfully picked up and I rolled into Creswick for more fresh fuel. And some directions from the very bemused service station attendant. No we don’t sell maps any more. Why don’t you just use Google maps on your phone? Oh, your phone is in your brothers’ car? That’s unfortunate. Well, just keep going that way until you get to Ballarat and then you should be fine. All very polite and helpful, but I could see that what she was really thinking was this- you are a bloody fool, aren’t you?

Onwards to Glory! With a now full tank of fresh 98, and Huey relenting, there were a couple of residual pops and crackles, and then she settled down and purred all the way home. Fear, doubt, hypothermia and a cold wet Beanie have no power to diminish the smile an MG puts on one’s face.

I’ve just put hood modifications to fit the new roll bar on my list of jobs. And a trailer. And weather proofed electrics. (Begone, Oh Price of Darkness!) And a working USB Charge port. And a new tonneau.

And power. I need more power.

So, my friends, that’s it from me until next season. Into the workshop she goes to get her prepared for summer and transfer onto club registration.

Your humble correspondent,