Akademos ’63 became known as the “Hell Trial” because of the difficulty of the navigation, the challenging roads and the terrible weather conditions on the night of the event. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of this notable event, the Melbourne University Car Club conducted a touring event on the weekend of 2-3 September, 2023 that followed the route of the 1963 Akademos Trial as much as possible.
The event gained a strong field of entrants from the Historic Rally Association as it was a round of the HRA Touring Championship and the HRA SCC Championship. Winners were Alan Upton and Mark Laidlay, with Greg Park & Brian Ward second and Bob Watson/Phil Nicholas and Sharon Ellis/Matt de Vaus equal third.
Of particular note was Bob Watson’s participation in the event – he finished 11th in 1963 driving an EH Holden and =3rd in 2023 driving a Holden Adventra. Next time …??
Others with a connection with the 1963 event were Kim Harper, whose father Ken drove a Falcon in 1963 but didn’t finish, Greg Kilfoyle, whose father Frank won the 1963 Akademos Trial, also driving a Falcon, and Doug Fernie, who drove a car that could have competed in 1963, the 1959 Volvo P544 that he had restored.
Clerk of Course David McKenzie set out to make the navigation almost as challenging as it was in 1963. His objective was to give participants an insight into what the “rally heroes” of the 1960s faced in Victorian Trials Series events. Additional instructions were provided where necessary to compensate for errors and ambiguities in the original instructions and for some of the changes to roads that made parts of the original route unusable. However, many of the now unusable roads had to be found by competitors and a “redirection” board noted, which then provided them with amended instructions to find the next control. For crews who didn’t want the navigational challenge, there were “Cruising Envelopes” they could open, with an appropriate penalty being applied.
More about the event to follow, including pictures ….