The North Eastern Car Club was in party mode last weekend when it celebrated its 65th Anniversary with a dinner at their Tarrawingee clubrooms.
Many past and current members were on hand to recognise this significant milestone, which also marked it as one of the longest-serving car clubs in Australia, having been founded on March 10, 1953.
In fact, the North Eastern Car Club was founded some months before the formation of CAMS, the controlling body of motorsport, also in 1953, and is thought to be the oldest car club still operating in Australia.
There have been many significant highlights in the club’s history.
Ted Gray, a Wangaratta resident and past President (1954–55) established the Australian Land Speed record in his Chevrolet Corvette–engined racing car, the Tornado, at Coonabarabran in 1954.
While this was widely publicised at the time, Grey, a local motor mechanic, was more well known as a result of a Wangaratta to Melbourne record attempt.
Grey, together with another NECC president, Jack Cox, climbed aboard their Alfa Romeo which was fitted with a Ford V8 motor, and took off down the old Hume Highway for Melbourne, their aim being to set a record for the 145 mile (240km) dash.
Despite all manner of obstacles, the pair pulled up at the front of the Elizabeth Street post office in Melbourne in exactly 2 hours, a feat that was widely reported at the time, but one which raised the ire of the police, who failed to share in the excitement of Grey’s daredevil driving.
After the club’s Tarrawingee race circuit closed in April 1965, club activities revolved around car rallies and the North Eastern Car Club conducted two rounds of the Australian Rally Championship, in 1976 and ’77, events that were widely praised for the professional manner in which they were conducted.
The club also nurtured two Australian Rally Champions, Geoff Portman and Ross Runnalls, who began their careers in the club and also became multiple Victorian Rally Champions as well.
The club has almost 300 financial members and is experiencing one of its brightest periods since it commenced in March 1953.
There is no doubt that while there are cars to drive and events to compete in, the North Eastern Car Club will be at the forefront of the action.
- Jeff Whitten