Words and Photos: Geelong Revival and Mike Ryan
Despite some inclement weather, the 2023 edition of the Geelong Revival Motoring Festival once again drew crowds of families and enthusiasts to Geelong's waterfront over the weekend of 25-26 November.
Now in its twelfth year, the Revival pays tribute to the Geelong Speed Trials, which were first held along Ritchie Boulevard on Geelong’s waterfront in 1956. The location is ideal for spectators, with a grassed bank on the south side of the boulevard providing uninterrupted viewing. For competitors, it’s a challenge, not only because the quarter-mile sprint course is on a public road, but also because it’s curved. That doesn’t stop many entrants giving it their best shot at topping the event’s timesheet each year!
More than 400 cars and motorcycles entered the 2023 Geelong Revival, covering a truly diverse array of machinery. While cars make up the bulk of the sprint entrants (everything from late-model performance hatchbacks, to classic muscle and historic open wheelers), the two-wheel representation never fails to impress. Harley-Davidsons separated by decades shared the pits with dirt bikes, classic British roadsters, modern Japanese sportsbikes, period race bikes, some Italian exotica and a few ‘bitsas’ combining old and new.
Arguably the most intriguing vehicle on show and in action wasn’t a motorcycle, but many may have thought it was powered by a motorcycle engine. Brendan Dillon’s GN Special was a Frankenstein creation that had echoes of Morgan’s three-wheeler with its exposed v-twin up front. However, the engine was much larger than any v-twin from the likes of Harley, Indian, JAP, Moto Guzzi or the like, which left many who saw it scratching their heads. The engine was actually two cylinders from a radial aircraft engine, matched to a bespoke crankcase and with many other custom touches.
Normally, one of the bikes entered in the sprints records the fastest time overall, but at the 2023 Revival, a Ford Territory Turbo - of all things - was quickest. The 9.80-second run for the SUV, completed on Saturday, 25 November, was also the only sub-10-second time of the entire weekend.
Best of the bikes was Cori Bourne, who clocked a 10.13 on his P6 Suzuki GSX-R1000 during his fifth and final run on Sunday, 26 November, followed by Michael Smith, who recorded 10.20 on a 2014 Honda CBR1000RR. As mentioned, rain impacted the event on each day, particularly late on the first day, which explains why Smith’s best time on Saturday was a 10.58 – also the fastest for any motorcycle that day.
On the Sunday, other riders joining Bourne and Smith in the 10s were Vince Glynn on a late-model Kawasaki ZX-10R, Dick Lodge on a Buell 1125R and Josh King on a Yamaha YZF-R1.
In terms of sheer presence, the 2022 Harley Road Glide of Mark Sellears was a sight to behold as the big bagger powered down the sprint course. It was faster than you might think, too – with a best time of 12.66. For the older set, an AJS 7R, early T120 Bonneville and Harley-Davidson WL were amongst the highlights.
Show and Stunt Show
Reflecting the variety on the track, the display areas showcased a mix of classic and modern vehicles on both days. The bike numbers in Motorcycle Mecca show ‘n’ shine may have been a little thin, but Geelong Harley-Davidson made up for it with a big display of current models, including the all-new X350 and X500 LAMS models that are now in dealerships.
A new attraction at the 2023 Geelong Revival was a large display of Australian Defence Force vehicles on Eastern Beach Lawn, allowing the public to engage with the latest military technology.
During the lunch break, a motorcycle stunt team kept the crowd entertained, while a special treat was multiple flyovers by an ex-RAAF CAC CA-18 Mustang – the Australian variant of the famous World War II fighter plane.
“I thought having the RAAF flyover was pretty special,” said Geelong Revival Event Director, Nicholas Heath. “Despite the weather forecasts, we were so pleased with the attendance numbers across both days - it really is a testament to how strong this community is.
“We love putting the event on and look forward to many more. The Geelong Revival Motoring Festival continues to be a highlight for both locals and visitors to the Geelong region.”
Back for ’24
Showcasing the spirit of car and bike enthusiasts, the 2024 edition of the Geelong Revival Motoring Festival will be anchored around the sprints and static display field, with fan favourites like the pit access and vintage fashion awards also set to return. There will almost certainly be new attractions, too, as the organisers aim to bring something fresh each year.
A date for 2024 had yet to be locked in at time of writing, but expect it to be in late November.
For updates on the 2024 festival, along with the full sprint results and more details from 2023, go to: geelongrevival.com.au