Geelong has it pretty good when it comes to car events. There’s a thriving street car scene, with some of the country’s quickest road-going cars calling the city home. Then you’ve got massive events like All Ford Day, the Queenscliff Rod Run, and the epic Geelong Revival.
The Revival’s origins can be traced back to 1956, when a local version of England’s Brighton Speed Trials began on the waterfront’s Ritchie Boulevard. Over the decades, the Geelong Speed Trials became a who’s who of racing legends, from Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss to Touring Car icons like Norm Beechey, John Harvey and Dick Johnson.
The Trials were knocked on the head in the early 2000s when the space was renovated, until the Geelong Revival brought sprints back to Ritchie Boulevard in 2012.
Nicholas Heath and his Pace Advertising team are the brains behind the Revival. Founded in 1964 as an offshoot of Geelong’s Heath Motors Ford dealership, the business has a long and deep connection with local car culture. “My family has been in cars forever; it’s in my blood, so we just gravitate towards it,” Nicholas said. “People come up to me and show me the car they bought from my father or my grandfather. It’s a nostalgia trip for Geelong in its heady days as a motoring capital.”
This year’s event is on this weekend, from Friday to Sunday. It is a great family day out, so get on it. Check out all the info you’ll need here and then get a taste of what to expect from our coverage of last year’s event below:
FLASHBACK: REVIVAL 2022
The 2022 Revival, which took place over the 25-27 November weekend, announced its presence on Friday evening with a Sunset in the Park meet, attracting all sorts of cool equipment to the elevated car park affectionately known as Shaggers. “You look and there’s an Aston Martin V12, and next to it there’s an HQ Monaro. It’s that broad church,” Nicholas said. The meet replaced the prior CBD cruise, which was often broken up by regular traffic. Nicholas is keen to introduce a cruise through the adjacent botanical gardens if the resident fruit bats don’t get in the way.
Sprints kicked off on Saturday morning, with entrants running on a quarter-mile course that opens with a long, lazy bend. Traction was a real challenge, especially on Saturday when there was still beach sand littering the tarmac. A massive assortment of cars turned out, including vintage open-wheel racers and specials, Aussie classics, and ethanol-guzzling V8 muscle. “It’s not concours, and it’s not Formula One; we’re just looking for everyone to have a stab and enjoy themselves,” Nicholas said.
It was well worth getting along to both days of racing, as the roster changed considerably when Saturday’s show ’n’ shine entrants got down and dirty on Sunday. They didn’t hold back, either, with plenty of entrants knocking out solid 11-second ETs on the no-prep surface. Noel Inman gave the contingent of modern Porsches a run for their money in his 302-powered Model T, edged out only by an electric Taycan Turbo on Sunday afternoon.
It’s free to spectate at the Revival, and with Geelong finally offering up a sunny weekend, attendance was strong. “Early numbers indicate almost 50,000 people over the two-and-a-half days – not too bad at all,” Nicholas enthused. Racing aside, there was an impressive show ’n’ shine and lots of late-model hardware on show from current manufacturers.
The 2022 Revival also introduced the Hot Wheels stunt team with Matt Mingay at the helm, which proved to be a drawcard for young families in particular. “The crowd just went nuts for it,” Nicholas said. “It’s pretty insane up close! I think a lot of people came down especially for that.”
Next year, Nicholas hopes to get air and sea power involved to make full use of the waterfront’s facilities. “Somehow I’m going to get planes involved; I find people who like cars like anything with an engine in it,” he said. “I’d like to see some powerboat racing involved as well – the water’s right there!”
Long-time Revival racer Craig Stillman managed a best of 14.05 in his Sting Red EH. It’s powered by a Phil Irving-headed red motor with triple-throttlebody EFI, paired to a Mitsubishi five-speed manual with Hoppers Stoppers brakes. Before Craig owned the car, it ran at Group N Touring Car meets.
Pace cars don’t get much more 90s than the IndyCar Surfers Paradise EB Falcon. The XR8 copped a warmed-over Windsor with GT40 heads and a one-off manifold, boosting output to 204kW. Other period steeze includes a Momo steering wheel and 17in Compomotive rolling stock, making it a poster child for Ford, IndyCar, and Wheels alike.
We featured Gary Scicluna’s beautifully finished, budget-built ’78 Esky van back in 2015, and it’s still going strong. There’s a Pinto motor in the mega-sanitary bay, and the undercarriage and interior fit-out are equally impressive.
Ken Williams’s 1973 Bolwell Nagari was a gorgeous sight and sound with its original 302 Cleveland and Top Loader combo, which sent the 1020kg car to a very low 14 across the quarter. “It doesn’t do great times because the driver is a big chicken who doesn’t want to stuff it into a wall,” Ken laughed.
The HQ of Cris Dalton was arguably the loudest and angriest car to hit the quarter, skidding all the way. Up front is a 12/71-blown Merlin 572 big-block, sipping methanol for 1430hp. “It’s done a 9.0 at 156mph. We’ve gotta get that eight, so we’re going to a few events,” Chris said. Bars aside, the Quey’s all steel.
Bannockburn bloke and long-time gasser nut Troy Newton’s ’55 Chev was a crowd favourite on debut. It’s done a best of 10.60 at Heathcote with its 383 Chev, Turbo 400 and 9in combo.
With its steamroller rear meats, you couldn’t miss Sam Gauci’s XB. It’s received a fresh 408 Clevo since appearing on our May 2020 cover, built to the same specs. “It’s due for a facelift,” Sam said of the ex-George Anthony beast, “but I’m building an XY for my daughter at the moment.”
Drag Challenge regular and general doer Noel Inman is a regular at the waterfront sprints, normally mixing it with the quickest cars – generally modern exotics and EVs, not Model Ts with brick-like aerodynamics! This year he took second outright with an 11.26.
Mick Roberts pulled this rare factory-V8 XC wagon from a hayshed before turning the 302 into a 300rwhp 351. It’s a regular on the Victorian cruising scene, with room for six thanks to the column-shift C10 and bench seat.
Robert Mihelcic had a great time in his Chev-motivated LX SS hatch. It makes 600hp, which Robert manhandles via a Top Loader manual. “I used to race a fair bit at Calder in my younger days,” he said. “It used to have NOS on it. It was fast for its day, but I don’t get any traction here – it’s just a bit of fun.”
Sarina Blair travelled to the event solo in her dad Daryl’s HQ Sandman for the first time. It was a nervous experience, but both Sarina and van arrived unharmed. “I’ve had a glass of water and I’m all good,” she laughed. The eight-year build features an injected 304 and HZ GTS dash.
The Mini Muscle Cars team brought along their adorably tough Monaro and Falcon coupe racers. Scaled at 80 per cent of a regular car, they run alloy EFI 4.0L Rover V8s and bolt-on fibreglass bodies based on super-faithful 3D scans. There’s plans to take the cars to production soon, with a Charger body also in the pipeline.
Gary and Judy Hislop’s FJ panel van made a MotorEx appearance in 2022. Oozing 80s custom vibes, it runs a sweet Weiand-blown 202, paired to a Trimatic and 9in rear with disc brakes. It steers nicely too, thanks to a Rod Shop front end with coil-overs and rack-and-pinion steering.
The covers were pulled off Eddie and Doris Bondin’s gorgeous ’59 El Camino at MotorEx 2019, and it’s been turning heads ever since. Eddie did virtually all the work on the truck himself, from the 400-cube Chev and AccuAir installation to the Italian leather interior and lime green/stone paintwork.
In true Geelong style, Andrew Larkins dropped his XA sedan on Center Line wheels, stroked the numbers-matching 302 Clevo to 351 cubes, and called it a day. “I bought it off a guy who was about 74, and I’m this third owner,” Andrew said. “It’s nothing radical; everything else is standard.”
With a dry-sumped, Autronic EFI-fed 520ci big-block and TKO manual ’box, Tony Masters’s ’66 Mustang fastback is a tough customer. It’s extensively braced and, impressively, all VicRoads-approved. “It did their head in,” he laughed. Tony raced the car at the previous Revival in March (postponed from 2021), and has also hit the track in Tasmania.
Alan Lacey lays claim to the world’s fastest panel van with his XF, with a top speed of 176mph at Lake Gairdner. The van now runs an Arrow-block 427 Clevo with a Ferrari-style flat-plane crank, twin throttlebodies and 16 LPG injectors. Normally running a 2.47:1 9in, Alan swapped to a 3.27 Borgy for his first crack at Revival sprints.
This HT GTS saw life as a Bathurst and rally racer in the 70s and 80s with the late Warwick Henderson at the helm. Warwick’s son Dion now campaigns the 350-cuber at the Revival, this year running a wheel-spinning 15.20sec pass.
David Witcombe’s ’66 Mustang copped a full rotisserie rebuild alongside some choice Shelby parts. “We wanted a GT350 lookalike, and we had the gold stripes ready to go on, but we got it back from the paint booth and didn’t want to spoil it,” he said. Power comes from a 289 Windsor topped by a Holley 650 and Edelbrock manifold.
Geelong folk may have seen this HG-VE hybrid cruising around town in high-fill primer. Owner Phil Carberry plonked the van body over a written-off Maloo, shortening the ute wheelbase by 190mm during the 10-year backyard build. There’s a Walkinshaw-blown LS3 up front, and even the HSV door mechanisms got a run.
Geelong club racing stalwart Laurie Cushion’s Buick V6-powered TG Gemini is a proper screamer. Built for Laurie’s son to race, it campaigns at the Winton and Sandown tracks regularly. “It’s a secret,” said Laurie when asked about the 250hp V6’s innards. “People see the car and go, ‘What the hell is in that thing?’”
This rally homologation special Daihatsu Storia X4 was rebodied into an Aussie-delivered Sirion shell. It directs 100kW to all four wheels on 21psi of boost, care of a twin-cam 713cc four-cylinder with a screaming 9000rpm redline. At just 820kg, it’s a reliable recipe for fun.
The Old Skool Street Cars Geelong crew help run the Revival, and always turn out with some tough local muscle, including David Rochow’s ’72 Nova. “It ran in the sprints yesterday; it’s not very quick, but it’s a bit of fun,” David said.