BOMADERRY motor racing enthusiast Steen Pedersen recently claimed an Australian racing title and he did it driving a car built in 1927.
Modern race car drivers often speak of the challenges they face when racing.
But spare a thought for Mr Pedersen in his open-air 1927 French Salmson GP.
He not only has to contend with wrestling heavy steering, little traction and cable-operated brakes; in the midst of all that he has to manually pump petrol into the engine.
Despite the many challenges he faces while racing, last month he managed to win the pre-1931 race at Historic Winton 2014.
“I am driving one of the oldest racing cars in Australia and it is still competitive,” Mr Pedersen said.
The three-day race draws competitors from around the nation and internationally.
This year Mr Pedersen was up against tough competition including a 1926, Talbot Darracq, which was bought for $1 million, and a 1927 Bugatti Type 35c.
Mr Pedersen bought his car in 1998 and rebuilt the engine.
He has since raced it every year at Historic Winton.
He has competed in 37 of the 38 years the event has been held.
As a motor mechanic he knows his car’s engine and all of its knocks and rattles.
“If I go over 5000 revs an ungodly scream comes out where the crankshaft bends and hits webbing inside the crankcase,” he said.
“The webbing is there to stop it bending more so I know I can keep going despite the noise,” he said.
“The car isn’t quick off the mark; it’s just me driving quick around the corners that makes it competitive.
“In this car you’ve got to know how to go around corners on two wheels.
“You have to do that with skinny little wheels.
“I’m from motorbikes so I know how to get around corners on two wheels.
“There is virtually no traction with these tyres.”
With the skinny tyres providing minimal traction, wet races provide an opportunity for historic car drivers to really show their skills.
“Wet driving in this car is all about four–wheel sliding,” Mr Pedersen said.
“But I did my ‘ballet dancing lessons’ when I was young, so I can be quicker in the wet,” he said.
Braking is another interesting characteristic of this car.
“It’s got cable-operated brakes, so in other words it doesn’t have brakes.”