Night Owl 2008

Night Owl Winter Classic Rally 2008

28th June 2008

The Story:

The Entrants
22 entries were received by close of entries on 21st of June. This was a positive start as the event had been promoted as a navigational event set in the spirit of the classic rally events of the 1950 and 1960s. The entry list included many experienced crews as well as a few novices who having not participated in an event of this nature were keen to take up the gauntlet and tackle the challenges the night would present. An interesting mix of cars were represented including a bright yellow Mitsubishi Evo 2 of Bernard Corbett and Graham Roser of the MGCC Newcastle. Richard Troup entered his Celica GT4 and had aboard Nicholas O’Donnell on his first ever rally. Peter Houghton of the MG CC Newcastle entered his Datsun 1600 which is under preparation for the Alice to Gold Coast event later this year. He was joined by AHRGs Jim Williamson and together they make a formidable pair. Peter Hill and Brian Gavin of the Classic Rally Club made sure they would be noticed in their pink and yellow Saab 99 EMS – What a joy to see. Robert Clark of WACC and Glynn Elliott of MGCC Newcastle were in a Datsun 240Z and Peter and Elizabeth Meddows of AHRG entered their pretty yellow Renault R12. And, making the Night Owl their first ever navigational event were Matthew Rath and Timothy Chamaoun, both from the Thornleigh Car Club in their Gallant GC.

The Start
As dusk settled, a crowd of just over 50 rally enthusiasts gathered around as Director Paul O’Neill called the competitors briefing for the Night Owl Winter Classic of 2008. In his address Paul made mention of what would become a mantra for many during the course of the night – “Read your Instructions”. This call was heard often repeated that night.

Being a navigational rally the event had plenty of challenges for the experienced and novice alike and Paul’s advise was to be taken seriously.

21 cars lined up for the start and right on time, the first car, a Triumph Dolomite crewed by David Walshe and Barry Prassil was flagged away.
But there was still one entry missing! Where was car 3 ? Andrew Cottam and Mal Sinfield were still putting together their 180B SSS and were making frantic and regular calls to Paul giving progressive updates on their efforts to finish preparing their car and to get to the start before closing time. And with just minutes to spare, they arrived and with much haste and due care they were passed through scrutineering, given their Road Card and Instructions and were on their way being last car on the road.

Section  1. Distance 71.73 Kms
After departing the Start, a tricky navigation section took the cars through 5 passage controls up to Greswick, on to Dungog via Alison. Control was just north of Dungog where the crews were asked to bear left at an intersection into Control via a short track. Many missed this and as a result came into Control in the Wrong Direction.

Section 2. Distance 115.12 Kms
After departing Control in a northerly direction the route turned north east through Monkerai Nature Reserve, up to Monkerai, over the “Linger and Die” Ridge and on to Wards River before turning south along Johnson Creek Road down to Stroud Road. Then using the Washpool Road the crews made their way to Booral before heading east through Girvan, onto Old Inn Road where they encountered 5 creek crossings before going to a well earned break at Bulahdelah. Section 2 included 6 passage controls with only 2 cars getting the first one right.

Section 3. Distance 48.2 Kms
From the meal break, crews headed east along The Lakes Way before turning north onto Wattley Hill Road towards Wotton. Then an old favourite was introduced; the old Pacific Highway through O’Sullivan’s Gap to the next control at Wang Wauk Forest Way.

Section 4a, 4.6 Kms and Section 4b, 25.12 Kms
At the beginning of Section 4, crews were advised of an average speed requirement of 37.5 Kms/hr and were not made aware of the secret passage control just 4.6 Kms into the section catching out all of the competing crews who had not maintained the speed advised. Here their time into control was recorded and they were issued with an amendment to the instructions which cancelled out the average speed requirement and provided instructions for a different route to the original. The section finished on Manning Hill Road, North of Upper Myall.

Section 5. Distance 81.24 Kms
From the previous control, crews then started on the homeward stretch and travelled via Markwell, south to Bulahdelah then via Jacks Creek and then onto a hard to find diversion through Viney Creek Road  to the finish at The Rock Roadhouse just south of the Tea Gardens turn-off. The last control was manned by Paul O’Neill and Tim Wilson who checked in the finishers before they handed in their Road Cards to scoring team of Dave and Mary Boddy.

Its Over
Thanks must be rendered to all who participated, from the competitors, to the many volunteers who manned controls as well as Dave and Mary Boddy who stuck at their task managing the scoring til the last car home and of course the event organisers Paul O’Neill, Arthur Evans, Vicky Murphy and CAMS Course Checker Jim Gleeson and special mention must be made of the commitment and dedication of our Patron Des West and Ruth who were CAMS Stewards for The Night Owl. Other club stalwarts who assisted and lent their authority to the event included Chief Scrutineer Brian Lawler and the sweep and recovery who braved the icy conditions to ensure all where accounted for during and after the event.

Whilst a few who competed found the event daunting, the overwhelming feedback from competitors has been very positive as navigational events such as The Night Owl are few and far between these days. Here are some of the comments we have received so far:

  • Thanks of a great event look forward to the next one.
    Peter Hill and Brian Gavin, Car 7, Saab 99 EMS
  • Just to say we enjoyed the event on Saturday. It was well organised and the navigation was well planned. Even though we failed to finish due to a hole in the sump ( brain fade on my part ) I have to thank Bruce in the sweep car for making sure we were ok and organised to get back to Sydney. Hope the event is on next year.
    Ian Packard and Alex Bratovic, Car 5 Peugeot 504
  • Thank you for putting on the event, it was a massive learning curve for the wife and I but well worth entering I have posted an event report on for those in our club foolish enough to miss out.
    David and Wendy Weller, Car 12 Datsun 180B SSS
    David’s posting on the site is well worth a read – ed !
  • Gidday Paul.  just wanted to send out a thanks note for your efforts at putting on the event last weekend. Graham and I had a great time. We enjoyed the roads you and Arthur selected and even enjoyed the ones Grahams elected just for mine and his use. Looking forward to running in the event again next year already.
    Bernard Corbett and Graham Roser, Car 13 Mistubishi Evo 2.

See the photos taken on the night in the Night Owl 2008 album on our gallery page.


Class B – Vehicles from 01/01/68 to 31/12/75 and identical run-on vehicles

1st Place: Peter Houghton and Jim Williamson, Datsun 1600
2nd Place: David Miller and Anthony Pennell, Volvo 142S
3rd Place: Stephen Tapner and Russell Skeffington, Mitsubishi Gallant

Class C – Vehicles from 01/01/76 to 31/12/85

1st Place: Steven Cox and Brenda Freeman. Nissan S12
2nd Place: Barry and Maureen Alder, Holden Commadore

Class X – Vehicles from 01/01/86 onwards

1st Place: Bernard Corbett and Graham Roser. Mitsubishi Evo 2
2nd Place: Richard Troup and Nicholas O’Connell. Celica GT4

Full Entry List
Car No. Driver Navigator Car Clubs
1 David Walshe Barry Prasil Triumph Dolomite AHRG / CRC
2 Stephen Cox Brenda Freeman Nissan S12 CRC / CRC
3 Andrew Cotham Mal Sinfield Datsun 180B SSS AHRG / ACRA
4 Andrew Saul Nigel Evans Datsun 180B SSS AHRG / MGCCNcstle
5 Ian Packard Alex Bratovic Peugeot 504 CRC / CRC
6 Richard Armanski Sharon Armanski Mistubishi Lancer MGCCNcstle / MGCCNcstle
7 Peter Hill Brian Gavin Saab 99 EMS CRC / CRC
8 Nigel Nash Philip Challinor Peugeot 404 AHRG / AHRG
9 David Miller Anthony Pennell Volvo 142S MGCCNcstle / CRC
10 Barry Alder Maureen Alder Holden Commodore AHRG / AHRG
11 Robert Clarke Glynn Elliott Datsun 240Z WACC / MGCCNcstle
12 Wendy Weller David Weller Datsun 180B SSS CNCSCC / CNCSCC
13 Bernard Corbett Graham Roser Mitsubishi EVO 2 MGCC Ncstle / FRS
14 Stephen Tapner Russell Skeffington Mitsubishi Gallant AHRG / WACC
15 Russell Baldwin Jim Bayliss Cortina TE MGCCNcstle / MGCCNcstle
16 Matthew Rath Timothy Chamaoun Gallant GC Thornleigh / Thornleigh
17 Gregor Dickinson Peter Philipson Mazda MX5 AHRG / AHRG
18 Peter Houghton Jim Williamson Datsun 1600 MGCCNcstle / AHRG
19 Richard Troup Nicolas O’Donnell Celica GT4 AHRG / AHRG
20 Peter Meddows Elizabeth Meddows Renault R12 AHRG / AHRG
21 Geoff Thomas Michael Smola Fiat 131 AHRG / MGCCNcstle
22 Stephen Haddow David Mitchell Nissan Skyline AHRG / AHRG