Festival of Speed Group S Suits Superb Speedsters and Sleek Sportscars

Monday 30th July, 2012


Author: winton ©

If historic production sports cars tickle your fancy, then you will love the Group S races at the Winton Festival of Speed in less than a fortnight.

A mammoth field of cars is entered for the Group S category, which will be highlighted by a 15 lap feature race on the Sunday afternoon.

One car of particular interest is Rusty French’s De Tomaso Pantera GTS. The car was previously owned by Perry Spiridis, who won a race at last year’s Festival of Speed.

The Pantera was released in a number of configurations in the early 1970s, including various levels of modification for international GT racing, but it is the road-going L and GTS versions that race in Group S. The Pantera combined thoroughly Italian low-slung styling with raw power in the form of a 5763cc Ford Cleveland V8 powerplant, the same motor used in the Australian Ford Falcon GT.

Rusty French has fond memories of the De Tomaso Pantera, having raced the car in its original configuration back in the 1970s.

“The Pantera was the first car I drove on slick tyres in Australia,” he recalled.

French is looking forward to returning behind the wheel, although he admits the car will be challenging to drive around the technical Winton circuit.

“It certainly has a lot of power, but some of the lighter and more nimble cars have better weight distribution. But it is a very enjoyable car to drive, and a really good looking car as well.”

French’s Pantera has also been restored to its original colour scheme, as shown in the image.

Rusty French and his De Tomaso Pantera will face off against varied competition in the Group S races, including Porsche 911s, Lotus Super Sevens, Corvettes, Mustang Shelbys, Datsun 240Zs and Alfa Romeo GTVs.

The Winton Festival of Speed will be held on August 11-12. Tickets are $25.00 for Saturday August 11, $30.00 for Sunday August 12 and $50.00 for a two day pass. Children 15 years and under are free.

For more information, please visit the Victorian Historic Racing Register website – www.vhrr.com.

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