Full Throttle Love
World War II finished and the gum trees that grew out of a Daylesford mining gully were razed. 1955 – veterans with undiagnosed PTSD found refuge in the dust laden gully basin now known as the Daylesford Speedway. One would never guess that we are moments from the spa country, the health retreats, the illustrious latte lampoons, the refined wine boutiques, unscrupulous sculpture and nonsensical art splish sploshing that’s abstract expressionism exists only in its lamentable pricing.
Three young men stand side by side on the boot of a sedan – camera in hand, camera wound to tripod, notebook clutched tight. The three men look to be out of towner types. But audacity does not befit their appearance, only their cause. We’d wandered the track hundreds of times after hours when it was desolate and unbridled. We’d been around the place when it’d been flooded with downpour. So much so that we saw remnants of last years Mother’s Day Massacre floating down streams and caught amongst reeds. Whole caravans, left only with one wall were more like rescue boats bobbing about in the wake of some devastating natural disaster. We photographed then, and we were to photograph now.
The day was warm with a bit on the breeze that made you pull on your jumper, though you’d just peel it back off again shortly. Clouds were sparse and the sky was overcast. Strange Gods were looking on us that day – who knows why. Maybe they were excited to be getting some pics of the B-Bash.
Folks there aren’t the friendliest on earth, but that only makes them all the more charming – all the more genuine. It took us some time to form relationships with faces that grew familiar. The spectacle soon transformed from intrigue of an indiscreet country subculture to an exhilarating oil spitting dust bomb of chaos and countercultural mayhem. We began to fall for the racers; Des Robinson – a driver in his 70’s that cruises around in a disheveled green Commodore, Nash Harris – A 10 gallon hat wearing behemoth that wins every race by at least half a lap, Priscilla Grech – the mother of three and Queen of our hearts that has constant car trouble but always seems to pull through in her Minions clad V8. Our persistence became too much for the committee and they gave way to letting us troll around and get the shots we wanted. We became a spectacle in ourselves; standing people next to bins, drawing lines in the dirt, asking them about their cars and who we should be snapping next.
The air of disconcert was no longer of any concern and we freely wove around the crowds and eventually down into the pits to get up close with the racers, their cars and pit crew. After they’d spun out, crashed into embankments, lost tyres and desecrated their competition in the B-Bash heats – of which there is a well known family rivalry at stake, they load up their beloveds and squeeze tinnies into stubbie holders. Some of them stay, committee included, in caravans barely less bastardized than the ones hurricaning Mother’s Day at 100km per hour; of which there can only be one crazy racing hero left standing. And of which you won’t find a single god damn person that’s not.
It’s a miracle this haven of engine freaks and speed junkies still exists so beautifully on the outskirts of a quaint little tourist village. It’s a rotund juxtaposition of culture and curiosity that we celebrated vehemently and will again and again, over and over. — Sloan