More than 400 motoring enthusiasts from across the country have torn through the Adelaide Hills for the biggest Adelaide Rally in the event’s 25-year history.
- The Adelaide Rally ran from March 24 to 27
- A record number of participants entered the event in 2021 with more than 400 vehicles fielded
- Drivers came from all over Australia to show off their vehicles and drive fast
The rally was originally scheduled for November, but Adelaide’s snap lockdown in response to a COVID-19 outbreak meant it was postponed.
“What that did is give us more time to gather up more entries,” event owner Tim Possingham said.
Old and new
It was a mix of old and new classic vehicles, including a 1955 Porsche Speedster parked alongside a fully electric Porsche Taycan, packs of Lamborghini’s and McLaren’s, and tributes to iconic cars, such as Holden’s 1979 Bathurst-winning Torana.
Owner Greg Cunningham said his car was actually a 1976 LX Torana hatchback.
“It’s a replica of the 1979 Bathurst-winning Brock Richards car that won by six laps, the biggest winning margin in its history,” he said.
Ben Collopy was driving a Datsun 180B equipped with a FJ20 Turbo engine from a DR30 Nissan Skyline, and a hydraulic handbrake.
“It’s 220 horsepower at the wheels,” he said.
“The handbrake is for safety, so if we run into some understeer, and we can’t get the car around, I’ll just pull that, and we’ll turn it around.”
Jason Moloney from Port Lincoln was driving a 1971 Ford Falcon XY as part of the Aussie Muscle Car Tour.
“It was originally restored, but then we had a reunion for [the 1979 film] Mad Max up in Broken Hill, so we mocked it up for a bit of a steampunk look,” he said.
Cars unleashed on closed roads
Held over four days, the Adelaide Rally, which finished on Saturday, includes road closures that allow drivers to push their cars through winding roads — albeit under restricted conditions for the non-professional drivers that make up the majority of the field.
Some cars are also required to drive to signed speed limits.
Nick Mebberson was a co-driver in a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle, equipped with a custom-built three-cylinder radial engine designed and built in Lonsdale.
He said it created 125 horsepower as the “mild” version of an engine that was originally designed for aircraft, but which the team at Bespoke Engineering was putting into production for Volkswagen Beetles, Karmann Ghias, Kombis, Formula Vees and Trikes.
Unfortunately, the car’s driver had a minor mishap and damaged the front of the car by “nudging” a guardrail.
“This is a car that normally has a 50 to 60 horsepower engine in it. So we’ve got a very powerful engine, and we just got a little bit enthusiastic and went into a corner a little bit fast,” Mr Mebberson said.
“But because we have no radiator in the front, we just cable-tied it up, and we’re good to go again.”
South Australia ‘unique’
Mr Possingham said South Australians had “motorsport in their DNA”, as evidenced by the high turnout to the Adelaide Rally, but also by the massive crowds that attended the Adelaide 500 street circuit before it was cancelled and the Australian Grand Prix in the 80s and 90s.
Mr Possingham also ran the popular Adelaide Motorsport Festival in conjunction with the rally until its funding was heavily reduced by the state government in 2019.
“We have the most unique thing here in South Australia, where you can have motorsport literally 400 metres from the CBD in a beautiful park-like environment, while just 12 minutes up the road, you’ve got special stages of a rally going past wineries and vineyards,” he said.
“When people come here and see the close proximity to everything and how accessible the tourism regions are in the Barossa, the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, it just capitalises on why this state is so great.”