Leyburn Sprints assistant race director Mike Collins and his 1937 Ford Special, with Bathurst winner John French and sprints race director Dennis Brown at a past Leyburn Sprints.
Leyburn Sprints assistant race director Mike Collins and his 1937 Ford Special, with Bathurst winner John French and sprints race director Dennis Brown at a past Leyburn Sprints. Gerard Walsh

Collins to peak in US

ONE of the stalwarts of historic motorsport in Queensland will enjoy a dream preparation for the annual Leyburn Sprints in August when he contests the world-famous Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, United States.

Leyburn Sprints founder and regular competitor Mike Collins will be one of just a handful of internationals in a field of 99 car drivers and 102 motorcycle riders in the US event on July 8, six weeks before the 17th Leyburn Sprints.

Collins and fellow Queenslander and Leyburn competitor Jim Hodgson have been accepted from hundreds of applicants to race a pair of 1960s Ford Mustangs in the Vintage class.

One of their rivals in a similar Mustang will be Bobby Unser Jnr, a member of America's First Family of motor racing, which has taken a record 38 wins on the mountain since 1926.

"It's a dream come true. They could only take 20 cars in the historic class and had over 50 entries," Collins said.

"If by any chance I can knock off an Unser into the bargain it would be the ultimate," Collins joked after being advised of his selection.

"Pike Peak International Hill Climb is one of the world's most famous, challenging and historic motorsport events.

"It's called the Race to the Clouds and over a distance of 20km, it offers 156 corners and a climb from 2860m to 4300m.

"Jim and I will be trying to drive fast at altitudes almost twice as high as the tallest mountain in Australia with no protection from falling a very long way. It will be the challenge of a lifetime."

Although the scale of the two events is vastly different, Collins said he would be promoting the Leyburn Sprints as one of Australia's historic motor racing institutions.

"The Sprints commemorates the weekend in 1949 when 30,000 spectators came to watch the Australian Grand Prix on the Darling Downs," he said.

The Leyburn Sprints time trials will be run on August 18 and 19 on a 1km course.


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