Book Review by Hugh King (Chairman, AMHF)
Bruce Polain has a sharp sense of what matters most to the older motor enthusiast. He not only conceived and gave life to a very special happening forty years ago but he skilfully made it seem like pure serendipity at the time. And now he has brought it back to our memory with a special re-telling in words and video. It is all so authentic and so graphic, a classic of our motor sport heritage.
The ‘Seaforth Grand Parade’ was first organised by Bruce and a small cohort of mates in 1982 at a time when the art and practice of competing with historic and heritage cars in NSW was getting up a fresh head of steam. In the previous year the Historic Sports and Racing Car Association (HSRCA) was formed by a group of ‘elders’ and they were the backbone of the group supporting Bruce, then a few entered his first event, gave it ‘legs’. Barry Clarke, Ian Pope, Fred Vogel … they were there.
It was a short street circuit hosted in the lovely setting of the inner harbour, a lap of two and a half kilometres around the heights of Seaforth descending to the Spit Bridge and then up through the gears to the top of Spit Hill to Sydney Road, turn left at the Seaforth shopping centre. Twice. Then coming to rest on display, until called up for a repeat performance. Bruce’s book and DVD has it all, and it is a complete blast.
Some great names in the sport at the time were attracted to Seaforth in 1983. Kevin Bartlett in the Camaro, Bob Jane, Peter Hopwood, Paul Hamilton, Ron Hodgson …. and the beautiful specials like Ron Reid’s Sulman Singer, Cameron MacMillan’s Alvis Roadmaster, Frank Kleinig’s Mako Vee. Then Graham Howard’s Lotus VI, the Ferrari 250LM, and Malcolm Shaw in ‘Black Bess’. And of course Bruce Polain leading the charge from time to time in the Wylie Javelin.
The fields for each year are all in the book, the photos and media reports are atmospheric, the characters ring true. So many legends and such generosity of spirit. Dreams are made of this.
So the pattern was set in 1982, against all odds, it blew out in 1983 and the local residents were supportive until 1988 when for reasons that Bruce explains candidly the unique event could be no more. Frankly it is a miracle that Bruce (and some mates) could make it happen at all.
For locals like me it was indeed serendipity that first time. I lived near Manly Road and when the day came around, near Christmas in 1982, we took the children in the family wagon up to Seaforth shopping centre early enough, but parking was tight. The sights and sounds were magnificent, the atmosphere just brilliant. My wife took the kids home after an hour and a couple of Magnums but I stayed on, and went up to the pedestrian bridge over Manly Road near the left turn off the hill. The cars came up in top whack, all of them, time and again and it was magic. To call it a ‘grand parade’ might have been stretching it a bit.
Bruce’s new work is an important reminder of how it was, and as a piece of history it has come out very well. My copy goes straight to the pool room, with sincere thanks to Bruce.
You can watch the interview chat about it with Bruce Polain and Peter Robinson on our YouTube channel here.