It was 8pm the night before I was set to drive 1100km+, crossing a state and traversing through 100’s of far-off towns on the way to Brisbane, Queensland from Sydney, NSW. I’d gone over everything on my trusty (though unproven over long distance) kouki Trueno coupe the day before; All the fluids were checked and pretty much everything was packed including tools and random spare bits and pieces.
Fellow HR Blog writer Harley was riding shotgun for the trip when I suddenly realised we’d be listening to the incessant ding-ding of the ‘Takumi chime’ (JDM AE86’s have a speed triggered warning chime) So for the 5th year running for our HR Annual, I’d be fiddling with something on the car (though very minor) right before we left. But this made me realise one thing was clear. HR Annual, the weekend that comes around only once a year.. was only just about to begin!
AE ONE DAY, 86 THE NEXT
Friday, November 7th 2008
In case some International readers are wondering about that title, the state of Queensland’s tourism motto is (or once was) ‘Beautiful one day, Perfect the next’. This is what we here at HR had planned for this momentous of meets. 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of AE86 existence. It’s also the 5th year anniversary of our country-wide Australian meet. So a lot of things were riding on this event.
I’d taken it upon myself to map the distance for the Sydney guys to get to our destination for the past five years and this year was no different, though I did have some help. Firstly from HR event organiser Adam, secondly from the modern-day goodness that is GPS navigation and third from various online map databases. (To think I’d previously mapped our routes the old fashioned way! Hah!) We meticulously organised an ‘interesting detour’ through mountain ranges that would ensure the NSW convoy wouldn’t get bored on the long droning Pacific Highway!
Three cars left Sydney for a rendezvous with another three from Newcastle (180km North) and then it was pretty much “get to ‘dem hills!”. But of course this is where things got interesting!
RALLY EDITION GPS?
We’d encountered roadworks on the main freeway earlier on setting the convoy back an hour so it was great to finally get off the highway and hit the hills. We set off at a quick pace through the winding road and after 15km the road narrowed to a comic-like one lane torturous road (still 2-directional) until it eventually turned into dirt. The big grin on my face turned stark in disbelief!
We all pulled onto the dirt road and we double checked our maps, double checked our GPS’ it was the right road. What was advertised on all our maps as an actual main ‘road’ was infact country bumpkin dirt rally road that wound its way through a mountain pass. 20km to the next town……
We thought this couldn’t be right, so we drove a bit further in. The surface got worse and worse though the corners got better and better. Faced with the decision of turning back and loosing more time we decided to try our luck and take it at snails pace. Stiff drift suspension with no travel and no clearance is not the right kind of set-up for this situation to say the least.
The corners just got better and better until eventually I had to speed up a little (from 10km/h) until I was probably driving in a way that didn’t exactly suit the conditions! Eventually the dirt road subsided and gave way to some mint winding road action. It was short lived and when we got to the next town we’d had enough rocks hitting the undercarriage for a lifetime and got back onto the highway. We eventually got to Brisbane about 8pm. (12hours or so of driving)
I don’t know how we managed it but we did get out for drinks with the locals and it was a pretty good night finally returning to the hotel around 2AM.
Saturday, November 8th 2008
I’d booked a spot for 20 karts and was informed on arrival that; quote “We’ve had a lot of bookings after you so we had to give them karts”. I didn’t think that was the way bookings were run so I had words with the owner who then said I might only have 16 karts… So some locals had to miss out but we eventually ran our karting event. Two separate groups, 1 warm up session, 1 qualifying, and then a segregated final of A and B according to lap times.
There was pretty much nothing between the field of drivers other than probably kart tune, tyres and the weight differences! (with some exceptions upfront!) I actually managed to get the exact same time (yes down to the 1000th of a second) with the same kart as another driver in the following qualifying session. That said there were some EPIC battles out there especially in the B group of qualifiers final. Everyone stood around intently watching the position for 1st, 2nd and 3rd change every lap for nearly the entire race! Someone quipped ‘this is what F1 should be’. Indeed!
Chad placed first followed closely by Peter and then by Sam in 3rd. Sam also scored the fastest lap prize with a time of 24.652.
After the karts were punished, we headed to a local pub for food and drinks before heading back to our hotels for another ‘proper’ outing. I probably can’t actually repeat what happened on the night but let’s just say lots of alcohol was involved and it had the air and feel of a bucks night out. This is pretty strange since for the most part most of us were struggling to remember each others names. It certainly is a strange bond owning an AE86.
THE BBQ, THE MEET, THE PHOTOS!
Sunday, November 9th 2008
On about 2 and a half hours sleep the Sydney gang left our motel to head to the BBQ where all the local QUEENSLAND AE86’s would be gathered. Time to find out if the locals would make the effort! And WOW were we impressed. There was over 30 cars there (including some KE’s) but 30 AE86’s in total! From dedicated DRIFT machines to circuit cars, Irish style, ADM stockers, clean daily’s. Basically everything was represented.
There was a quiet air of hope when it was announced that the raffle and prize handouts would commence….. I overheard people in desperate need of an aftermarket computer for their car and others just wanted some new rims! Thanks again to Kaizen Garage, JDMYARD, AJPS and Royal Garage.
Here’s the part where I stop jabbering about the BBQ and let you guys drool over the photos (scroll down). There is plenty more on the forums that others have taken so go check the various threads out for more photos.
After the BBQ/Meet we headed off onto the winding road. Queensland has some amazing mountain passes and although the pace was relaxed rather than the intense driving of previous years it was a great experience and a bit of an eye-opener (the steepness of some of those roads induced brake fade on a lot of the cars) mine included! Some guys even had to pull over due to this.
As if the day wasn’t long enough a few attendees then headed for dinner and yet more drinks.
The NSW contingent then left the next day, arriving home around 12am.
4days, 2500km+ travelled, 16hours sleep and it was all definitely worth it. The AE86 community in Australia is alive and well! (though right now sporting one major hang over!)
Hit the forums and leave a comment here. Thanks to all who attended, it’s you guys who make it the great weekend it is – every year!
Roll on 2009!
Thornleigh McDonalds: Stage Begin!
After months of not driving an ’86. Garth seems to enjoy driving Nye’s Levin..
The party himself: Pete
Jarrod offers Skids 4 Cash!
How’s the serenity?
Arrival in Brisbane!
Getting ‘The Talk’… Sam looks bored…
Some of the most boro karts you’ll ever see…
Grant’s Blacktop Smoke Machine (no, not the tyres…)
Garth rockin’ the ‘evil Stig’ helmet.
Epic Karting Battle.
Epic Karting Battle Continued.
Oh so close!
Derek made the trip from Cairns!
So did Steve!
Peter H and Hao’s Levins.
Get your delivery on!
No entry into Queensland with a cocktail umbrella in your dash!
S for Squeal!
Pat’s fat levin was *kinda* loud…
4A-GE’s turn you into a DEMON as Nye found out…
They love their 13″ Superlights!
Chris’ immaculate daily driver…
…and equally hardcore track car
Line up for food and drink!
Johno cooks while Garth gets scalding burns… good times!
What’s that sound?
Glorious! well Nebo actually!
Beige and Brown, Dimitri’s tank
Join the Army get your head blown off….
Kaizen Garage Crew (Sam, Ant, Noel, Grant)
1,2,3 … Hachi!
Look the fuck out!
HR invades Ferny Grove BP….
Monday morning and we’re off home. Thanks Queensland!
Photos: Harley Ozcan