By Trevor Jackson
WHILE there is still about three months to go before the Legend of the Lakes Hill Climb hits the public road up from the Valley Lakes, the excitement is already building.
With entries only recently opened, the event – to be run on October 29, 30 and 31 – is already close to capacity.
In fact, Friday’s field for South Eastern Automobile Club drivers and Historics is over capacity, with a big reserves list already in place.
SEAC club member and race director Kevin Raedel said it was pleasing to see the interest at such a high level again.
“It is good to have such good numbers,” he said.
“Friday was full last year, but we have never really had a massive reserve.
“We have nearly 90 entries so far for Friday which is well over capacity, so a few will miss out unfortunately.
“Saturday and Sunday are close to full.
“We have had so much interest this year … it is back to how it used to be, which is good.”
Long-time competitor Robert Vanderkamp was the first to enter in his yellow GT Falcon, while current “Legend” Dan Day will be back to defend his title.
Day will no doubt be hard to beat again this year.
You have to go back to 2015 to find another name at the top of the outright winner’s list, with Mount Gambier’s Peter Gazzard the last driver to win other than Day.
That gives the Adelaide driver five successive victories at the event, which equalled Gazzard’s previous record.
He has previously stated he wanted to the record for most wins, which will take another two to equal Gazzard.
Gazzard had claimed five titles in a row, but seven overall, so the challenge is still alive.
Apart from that Raedel said the list was growing well, with some of the fastest drivers to have tried their hand at the hill back to conquer it.
“Mark Rundle is on the list and he is a good steerer from Adelaide,” he said.
“I haven’t seen (Kevin) Mackrell enter yet so I don’t know if he is waiting for the Border restrictions or what he is up to.
“Gavin Farley is back in and he has been winning most events at Collingrove.
“I haven’t seen Kurt Wilson yet which is as shame because he is always good to watch.
“Most of the locals are back in – Damian Brand, Simon Feil, Phil Wilson in his Soarer.
“He is always quick.”
So far the entries have come in from Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, but the COVID-19 pandemic could well play a hand in the make up of the final field.
That was the case last year but the event still went ahead, albeit without crowds.
SEAC then utilised a live feed to keep fans up to date with the on-track action, which is set to be further improved this year and is sure to attract plenty of views again, especially if the coronavirus re-emerges.
“We have been busy working on a new live stream with some high-def cameras, which will be cool if it comes off,” Raedel said.
“It was the first time we did it last year and it was pretty positive.
“This year we are looking at less cameras but better quality.
“Last year we had about 50,000 views for the weekend, so it was very popular.”
In recent years the event has showcased speedway cars, drift cars and off road trucks, with something in the pipeline for this year which is yet to be finalised.
In its 16th year of running it is hard to see a track record broken, but there is no shortage of action guaranteed.
“I can’t see it being a lot quicker this year,” Raedel said.
“I think around the high 49s is about it.
“I don’t think there is much left in the road – that is about where it is at.”