It’s no secret 2020 was a challenging year. Starting out in a haze of choking bushfire smoke, we saw it clear just long enough for an invisible hazard to change everything we knew. But there were also some good news stories; things did happen. Here is our 2020, the year that was…weird.
The year started, as always, with a fry-up at Summernats, held at EPIC in Canberra. The whole event occurred under a blanket of thick smoke and not all of it from the burnout pad. In what would soon become a familiar story, it was touch-and-go as to whether the event would even run, but as the ACT itself wasn’t on fire, the show went on.
While the Summernats mood was subdued, hugeness occurred in the dyno hall, with Maria Passos turning up a whopping 2202 horsepower from her turbo Falcon, the first time a six-cylinder has bested a V8 for the outright prize. More hugeness occurred in the chase for Grand Champion, with Todd Sorensen hustling his 1967 Impala through the driving events and taking the Sword home.
Further into January, we previewed the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour to run at the end of the month. Bentley was ultimately added to the list of outright winners, with Frenchman Jules Gounon, South African Jordan Pepper and Belgian Maxime Soulet sharing driving duties to cover 314 laps of the gruelling mountain circuit.
South of the Murray, the iconic Picnic at Hanging Rock returned to the Macedon Ranges, as did the beautiful weather. Organiser Graham Williams was stoked with the turnout, citing a bulging attendance of 1750 vehicles and just as many spectator cars.
The Shannons Super Rig hosted Shannons brand ambassador and seven-times Bathurst winner ‘Gentleman’ Jim Richards, who brought along his 1973 AMC Javelin to Hanging Rock. Jim and the Javelin, both proudly sponsored by Shannons, achieved second place in the 2015 Touring Car Masters series, his last championship trophy before hanging up his helmet.
The following week, Tassie turned it on for the annual Deloraine Street Classic and Custom show, shutting down the main street to make way for hundreds of pre-1988 vehicles. With cars, bikes, bands and trade stands, the event was a great success and although COVID has claimed it for 2021, plans are afoot for the show to return to Deloraine bigger and better in 2022.
Back on the mainland, we interviewed Elvis Barbieri ahead of the Showcars Melbourne PPG Showdown 9 on 23 February. He was excited for the event, knowing there would be no less than five full, Street Elite-level builds revealed at the indoor/outdoor show.
A couple of hours away, the relative tranquillity of Phillip Island was once again shattered by the best kinds of sounds; those of screaming race cars! The Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport took place in early March, featuring several entrants from overseas including the ex-Tazio Nuvolari Maserati 4CL now owned by collector Paddins Dowling.
The Maserati showed its fair share of engine gremlins over the weekend, but it was an occasion nevertheless. Modern greats were also attendance, like the NZ-based, ex-Jim Richards JPS BMW 635 CSi and Larry Perkins’ final V8 Supercar, his Castrol-Perkins Racing Commodore that brought him home fourth in the 2003 Bathurst 1000.
Throughout January, Australia’s third-largest island was under fire; quite literally. Kangaroo Island in SA suffered greatly in the early part of the year, losing 211,474 hectares to bushfire; some 49% of the island, including both farmland and bushland.
With the 2020 Kangaroo Island Cruise & Sprints already scheduled for 7-8 of March, regular entrant and former resident Darran Crabb saw an opportunity to help out. Through the Aussie Muscle Car Run, he encouraged others to enter their cars, visit the island and give the locals a much-needed cash injection via tourist dollars.
The 2020 event also marked the first time Shannons has visited Kangaroo Island, with SA BDM Jeff Hughes making the ferry journey across the Backstairs Passage to meet the locals and show our support.
The same weekend, Ascot Racecourse in WA was the venue for Perth’s 2020 Classic Car Show. With a true focus on unmodified classics, it was a great opportunity to sight history’s automobiles as they were new, with some owners even donning vintage attire to match their machines.
The 28th Annual Chryslers on the Murray, held 13-15 March in Wodonga, ran this year with a focus on US muscle cars from 1962 to 1974. Big cubes, big horsepower and wild colours; it was not a time for shrinking violets. Over 800 entrants attended, taking in three days of cruising, two days of show & shine and a swap meet.
Up in Sydney, the Whiteline Tarmac Rally Sprint 19/20 Series managed to sneak in its final round before COVID-19 started to unravel things. Shannons took in all Sprints from October through to March, congratulating driver David Isaacs and co-driver Aeron Napper for taking out the Series in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, despite mechanical issues midway through the season.
As it became evident that events would not continue in their familiar format for some time anywhere in Australia, various organisers and partners sought to lift the spirits with alterative arrangements such as virtual shows. Shannons got on board with the Instagram-based #ShannonsDrivewayChallenge, allowing people to share their rides by simply getting them out in the driveway, snapping a pic and hashing a tag.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride made concessions of a different, uniquely two-wheeled kind, with the international event encouraging participants to go on a solo ride on 27 September. Raising over $3.6 million globally for men’s health initiatives during a pandemic is no mean feat, but there’s more good news. The Shannons team, which was open for anyone to enrol, jointly raised $26,903, placing them seventh worldwide; an awesome effort if we do say so ourselves.
After launching in 1980 as an event solely for vintage and veteran cars, South Australia’s Bay to Birdwood Run celebrated it’s 40th anniversary in September. Initially held biennially, the Classic was introduced in 1999 for later vehicles and held every odd year since, however all eras combined in 2020 for the first time to herald four decades of the Run.
Several concessions were made to allow the event to proceed yet remain COVID-safe, with entrants arriving at the National Motor Museum for a short break rather than the whole afternoon. The changes did nothing to dilute the sense of occasion, with many seeking alternative arrangements for lunch, (safely) packing out the pubs and restaurants of nearby Adelaide Hills towns to watch vehicles of all eras criss-cross the normally sleepy streets.
Up in Alice Springs, Red CentreNATS 6 just managed to go ahead, albeit with no participants from the Eastern States, who were still in various stages of border restrictions or lockdown. Rob Berry from Shannons NT headed down from Darwin to support the organisers, meet our customers and have a great time, naturally.
The Sunshine State managed to pack a fair bit into the tail end of the year, with the Shannons Classic Rallye Tour complementing the competition side of the TARGA Great Barrier Reef. Much further south at the newly opened Gold Coast Motor Museum, Queensland BDM Phil Ross and museum owner Carl Amor threw the covers off our northernmost Goggomobil Dart, freshly restored and now on display at the world-class facility.
In late September, WA BDM James McDonald welcomed a fresh club registration scheme for his home state. December, however, brought his greatest challenge; curating the Holden-centric Gone But Not Forgotten show, held in the grounds of former dealership City Motors Holden. As well as sourcing an example of every Australian-built Holden, James chased other Holden-built vehicles such as Bedfords, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Vauxhalls, as well as those built prior to GM’s involvement, like Austins, Chryslers and even Fords!
With Victoria functioning under strict lockdown conditions for much of the year, automotive celebrations were overdue when Motorsport Australia announced that Sandown would host the Shannons Motorsport Australia Festival across 12 and 13 of December.
Likewise, Vic BDM Belinda Douglas raised a glass when organisers of the Geelong Revival were able to salvage the annual Shannons City Cruise, despite the rest of the event being postponed for another day. The Cruise was livestreamed on the Revival’s Facebook page with almost 200,000 people touching on the broadcast.
And that was the year that was, proving there was good news amongst the bad, silver linings to the grey (sometimes smoke) clouds. As a proud supporter of the motoring community and events, we look forward to seeing you around the country in 2021. From everyone at Shannons, we wish you a happy holiday season and safe motoring.
We're here for you. For information on how we'll continue to support our Shannons customers during this difficult time visit our COVID-19 information page.