The Alpine Rally was held on 8-9 December.
1973 ARC Round 6 – 1973 LCCA Alpine Rally
Mystery surrounds the decision to call the 1973 Alpine the “Golden Alpine”. It seemed like it was 50 years since the first running, but in fact the first Alpine Rally was held in 1921 and there was no running of the event in 1923. It was sometimes referred to as the 50th Alpine, but a careful count of the number of editions suggests it was the 35th running of the event. In any case, it was a great event!
This was the last of many Alpine Rallies to be directed by Light Car Club stalwart, Bruce Ford, and by basing the event in Bright he set a format that would continue for many years.
A quality field of 57 cars was entered, but only 8 cars were eligible for ARC points. In the ARC, the two Holden Dealer Team cars of Colin Bond / George Shepheard and Peter Lang / Warwick Smith were tied on points coming into the Alpine.
The Saturday daylight stages ran through Two Mile Creek (Bright) plantation, then four stages in Ovens followed by six stages in the Merriang / Hurdle Creek plantation complex.
At the Bright dinner break Doug Chivas with local navigator Mike Predergast was tied in the lead with two surprising up and coming drivers, George Fury (with Monty Suffern) in his Mark I Cortina and 19 year old David Lang (Peter’s brother, with Grahame Elliot) in a Datsun 1600. One points adrift was Stewart McLeod (with Adrian Mortimer) with one point back to Peter Lang (with Warwick Smith) and Frank Kilfoyle (with Mike Osborne in the Datsun Rally Team 180B SSS).
The ARC was all but decided in Lang’s favour when Colin Bond broke his gearbox in Ovens and was forced to miss 11 controls. Namesake David Bond, lost a wheel in his Cortina (on a transport) and missed 5 controls.
Bruce Hodgson / Fred Gocentas were pushing on in the big Falcon GT, but had a couple of punctures and were slowed with overheating.
The Saab 99 of Tony Roberts / Jeff Beaumont retired when their car swallowed water from a rather deep creek crossing and hydraulicked the motor.
The long and tortuous night division headed up the Hotham Road to Mount St Bernard then across the Dargo High Plains, headed across through Seldom Seen and down Engineers Road and out to the Omeo Highway. It was then across to Buchan and up Timbarra Road across the Nunniong Plains. Through Omeo and across to Mount Hotham and back to Bright.
Kilf showed his class in the mountains, winning the night division by 3 minutes from David Lang, then 2 minutes to Bond and Peter Lang. Kilf had taken the lead, but by only one minute from David Lang! McLeod was 3 minutes behind Lang, with Peter Lang and Doug Chivas one minute further back.
The warm conditions were resulting in massive tyre wear and some crews were having to back off with lack of rubber.
The Sunday daylight was a rerun of the Saturday stages with the Ovens and Merriang stages run in reverse. Kilfoyle extended his lead from David Lang and Doug Chivas, whilst Peter Lang took the lead from McLeod in the ARC category. Heartbreak came for the young David Lang when the diff failed on his Datsun 1600 on the very last stage. Hoddo was pressing on gamely, finishing sixth behind Fury.