Australia's Leyburn Historic Sprints event notes

The Leyburn Historic Sprints took the next step in its evolution as one of Queensland premier motorsport events this weekend. The event, supported by the Queensland Event Corporation's Regional Development program, attracted a record crowd in ...

The Leyburn Historic Sprints took the next step in its evolution as one of Queensland premier motorsport events this weekend.

The event, supported by the Queensland Event Corporation's Regional Development program, attracted a record crowd in excess of 18,000 fans despite inclement weather today.

More than 2500 camped overnight to enjoy bands and country hospitality -- all of this is an amazing achievement when you consider the small Darling Downs township has a population of just 150.

Queensland Events Corporation Chairman, Des Power, who attended the Leyburn Sprints yesterday with several of his staff and QEC board members, was more than impressed.

"When you see events like this (Leyburn Sprints) you see how valuable the regional program has become," said Power.

"This event is the major fundraiser for the year for the Leyburn area and everyone really benefits.

"The investment we made was used to market and promote the event and it has obviously had the desired result.

"There is no doubt that the Leyburn Sprints are a fantastic asset for Regional Queensland."

More than 160 entrants drove a total of nine runs each over a 1km sprint course -- the event is a celebration of the first Australian Grand Prix hosted in Queensland at Leyburn in 1949.

The fastest "run" of the weekend was recorded by Ray Vandersee in his Van Demon Westfield. The Toowoomba-based driver broke his own course record on Saturday with a sensational time of 41.94 seconds.

"It really has been a fantastic weekend all round, not only for myself but for all the competitors and spectators," said Vandersee, after completing his ninth run.

"I've been competing at Leyburn for five years and have never seen such a great crowd for this event.

"Obviously having a dry track on the Saturday ensured a lot more grip on the tyres and I felt happy how it all panned out. Great time at a great venue and I'm sure I can set a new mark next year."

Leyburn Sprints Committee Chairperson, Ann Collins, was delighted with the results of the weekend which has raised thousands of dollars for the local school and several other charities.

"I think the success this weekend is testimony to the amount of effort which has been put into this year's event," said Collins.

"We have to thank Queensland Events Corporation for its commitment to our event and we look forward to working with them in the future.

"We wanted to take the Leyburn Sprints to another level this year and I think we have achieved that with the help of the QEC and the Regional Development program."

Queensland motorsport legend Dick Johnson competed at the event for the first time and set a quickest time of 51.71 seconds in a Lotus Cortina borrowed from Darryl Bray.

"This is the first time I have been to the Leyburn Sprints and it won't be my last," said Johnson, who was the official Grand Marshal of the event.

"This is how motorsport used to be and is certainly a very enjoyable experience.

"This event has even more potential and that can be achieved without loosing the "country feel". Everyone needs to put this event on their annual event calendar."

The ninth annual Leyburn Sprints are being planned for August 2004.

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Series SPRINT , VINTAGE