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May Mystery Run - Ballarat

Lois and I decided to head off to Ballarat on Thursday, giving us time to set up our caravan and be ready to map out the mystery run on Friday, unfortunately bringing the caravan meant bring the Hyundai as the 57 is not set up for electric brakes. All was going well with the car telling me we had about ninety kilometres to go to empty and our planned fuel and lunch stop was forty five k’s away, sadly the Pentland Hills didn’t come into the computers calculations which resulted in us running out of fuel just a lousy two kilometres from the servo, damn! About forty minutes later the RACV man brought us five litres of go-juice and delighted in telling me “you know that from Bacchus Marsh to Ballan is the longest climb in Victoria” I replied “I do now!” Anyhow we were soon on our way again. Friday dawned fine and sunny although a bit cool but the weather forecast was for fine sunny days (with cold nights!) so it was looking good for the weekend. I spent a bit of time looking at the Google machine to plan a route to our “Mystery” destination; it was a bit strange trying to work it out as usually you are from the area and pretty much know where you are going to go. Ha, this shouldn’t be too hard! So Lois and I headed off into the wild blue yonder with pen and paper in hand, well an hour or so later we had arrived at our destination with a few pages of questions for the suckers tomorrow. I reckon it was harder than going on it AND we probably had more arguments than when we do go on it! When we got back to the Big4 in Ballarat most of the other members had arrived and after a bit of socialising it was time to get to the Red Lion Hotel for dinner. There we met up with past members Dave Elliott and family, Arnold Millane and Dwayne Beckers, it was a good night catching up both old and new members.

Saturday. After breakfast we gathered in front of the caravan park for the mystery run.

I handed out the question sheets and explained a couple of things to help them out on the run then sent them off in intervals for a fun and not too challenging (I hope!) cruise to the lunch destination.

Lois and I took the short way and were just sitting down for a cuppa when the first car arrived, I first thought it was either way too easy or too hard and they had given up but it was all good.

The last questions had to be found walking in the town which was neat and gave them a good look at the main street of Clunes.

Clunes was the site of Victoria's first gold strike in 1851, the main street hasn’t changed much in a hundred years and has been used in many movies including some scenes in the original Mad Max the Heath Ledger version of Ned Kelly. Luckily everyone arrived and seemed to have enjoyed it, so we were all happy. Some of us had a refreshing drink at the pub while others tried out the local cafes.

Steve Ignatiadis drove up to Ballarat for the day in his big-block ‘57 and managed to track us down in Clunes, well done! Eventually we all had returned to Ballarat for a fun night back at the Big4, the function room was ready and had been preheated for us which was most appreciated by all. Around 7pm Lois and I went to La Porchetta to pick up the pizzas, having decided on fourteen pizzas would feed everyone, we found they had generously given us three freebies making sure we had way too many now!

The winners of the mystery run were announced and it was a close contest with a three way tie for first, all with 29 out of 30.

The winner was decided by a card draw which resulted in David & Virginia getting the win, Mark & Allison 2nd and Julie & Mick 3rd.Karl had us in stitches telling us the story of the “Tomato Smuggler”.

It seems Karl and his passenger Dave Elliot while on the way to Lake Gairdner to attend the salt lake races missed seeing a few large signs regarding bringing fruit and vegetables across the border.

At the VIC/SA border the very officious official wanted to take a look in the van and found the six offending tomatoes, he went to great lengths to show photos of said signs to Karl but alas Karl & Dave had not seen them.

Maybe you can look out the windscreen while talking to your passenger next time, Karl! After the official took photos of the tomatoes with Karl’s driving licence attached they continued on.

Karl reckons the border blokes would be eating tomato sandwiches for a week as he wasn’t the only one who had fallen foul with the tomato police!

A couple of weeks after he had got back home Karl received a fine of four hundred bucks!! making them pretty much the dearest tomatoes in the world!

Lois then presented Karl with a pack of tomatoes to help out with the loss, but alas there were only four and he had lost six, ripped off again!

Sunday. At 10AM we went to Dave Elliot’s American Suspension shop for an open house. He provided a USA themed morning tea of coffee and donuts, there we met up with members Tony Cappola and Paul Creed who drove up for the day, Tony had driven his ‘69 Camaro Convertible pace-car up and nearly froze with the roof down, Paul was a lot warmer driving his newly registered CV8. The local Ballarat rodders arrived along with some from Geelong and soon the joint was packed with some great cars.

Past member Wayne Baker was there in his great ’57 4door hardtop, which unfortunately suffered a small fire on his way home - apparently minimal damage done. With all the Chevs and Dave’s collection of cars, signs and other memorabilia it was a great way to spend a couple of hours, as the cars thinned out Dave was able to get his ‘69 Camaro Convertible pace-car out of the factory and lined up the two identical (almost) cars.

It’s pretty rare to see one of these pace cars much less two side by side. A big thank you to our hosts Dave and Annie for the day and their hospitality and to them and Arnie for giving up their day off.

For those of us who were staying on Karl had organised a visit to Lloyd Roberts house to see his collection, it had been many years since I had been to his place and the cars may have changed but the amount of cars and parts certainly hasn’t.

We finished off the day with dinner at the Bunch of Grapes pub. It was a great to get away for the weekend with the club especially after the past year and the weather gods smiled upon us (Lois must know someone up there!)

Some facts about the 69 pace cars

The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro was chosen to pace the Indianapolis 500 in 1967 and again in 1969. The Camaros used in conjunction with the 1969 race—two as actual pace cars, one to be awarded to the race winner (Mario Andretti), and the balance for USAC and Speedway officials and other dignitaries—were all painted Dover White with Hugger Orange stripes and had orange hounds tooth interior upholstery. To promote its efforts at the Brickyard that year, Chevrolet built 3,675 Camaro pace car replicas to be sold through a short list of Chevrolet dealers. All the replicas were RS/SS cars with the Dover White/Hugger Orange paint scheme, orange pinstripes, front and rear spoilers, painted rocker panels, Rally wheels, Custom interiors (with the orange hounds tooth upholstery) and cowl-induction hoods, which were new for the 1969 model year. The pace car replicas could be powered by small or big-block V-8s. The 350CI small-block was rated at 300 HP and 380 lb-ft of torque. The options list on this car also includes power steering, power brakes with front discs, a wood-grained sport steering wheel, center console with gauges, and a Delco pushbutton AM radio. The tires were Firestone Wide Oval radials, size GR70-14. A little bit of pace car trivia: the pace car package, called “Indy 500 Pace Car Accents,” was known by its Z11 RPO code and carried a $36.90 retail price. But only those Camaros built at the Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant have the Z11 code in their cowl tags. The pace car replicas built in Van Nuys, California, do not.



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