Seasoned rally driver Peter Eames and daughter Rebecca are preparing their 1974 Group S Porsche 911 Carrera for the first Hotham Auto Corsa Alpine Tarmac Rally – held over 250 competitive kilometres around Mount Hotham in Victoria’s North East from 14-15 November.
The Eames family have grown up in motorsports and made plenty of friends in the racing community. Having spent a few years in circuit racing rather than rally driving, the Hotham Auto Corsa Alpine Tarmac Rally piqued Peter’s interest as he has a soft spot for Hotham; the scenery is beautiful and it’s where he first learnt to ski, and he’s looking forward to reconnecting with old friends.
“We’re looking forward to getting out and having a bit of fun again. I know Rex Broadbent’s going up - we haven’t competed against each other for a couple of years. We’ll catch up with some of the guys that we haven’t for a while,” says Peter.
The nature of rally driving perhaps lends itself to building friendships. “In rallying you’re effectively racing the clock, not the other person, so you don’t have the issues of blocking that you have in circuit racing. It’s more of (dare I say it) a gentleman’s sport – you take your turn and see who’s the best,” says Peter.
The father and daughter team work together in the family’s medical supplies business by day. For rallying, they previously had a lightweight E-type Jaguar and up until recently a 1974 Porsche Carrera RS in which Peter was one of Australia’s leading tarmac classic rallying competitors.
“When we had the E-type we used to watch the top three guys in Porsches who would finish and go and have dinner and we’d still be putting the car back together. I thought, ‘geez there’s got to be something in these Porsches that’s worthy of a shot,’” says Peter.
Having recently sold the RS, Peter is preparing his Group S Porsche (normally used for national circuit racing) for Hotham Auto Corsa. The November event will be the car’s first tarmac rally.
Peter is usually driver and Rebecca navigates. “Bec’s always happy to tell me when I’m going too slow,” says Peter. Rebecca does occasionally take the wheel, which Peter admits is a challenge for him. “It’s alright when I’m being insane, but it’s not real good when it’s somebody else,” he laughs.
The duo had taken a break from rallying, and the Hotham Auto Corsa Alpine Tarmac Rally will be their first appearance at a rally event in three years.
“We stopped competing in rallies because they brought in a lot of computerisation and it got to the point where you really didn’t talk to any officials during the day; so it sort of lost that racing community type feel. For us anyway, we felt it was getting too boring just sitting in a car and not really conversing with anyone, including the volunteer officials. In earlier days it was a lot more fun,” says Peter.
Auto Corsa Group co-director, and former Targa Tasmania clerk of course, Stuart Benson, confirms that Auto Corsa’s events will be designed not just for the competitor but also, whenever possible, give the community, spectators and officials the chance to connect.
“Having grown up around rally events and worked in the industry throughout my life, and benefited from the friendships I’ve made at rallies and other types of events, it’s important to us to provide our sporting community with opportunities to have fun together,” says Stuart.
Stuart said Hotham Auto Corsa would comprise a number of exciting opportunities for the local region to connect with the event including a number of static car displays and pop up start and finish celebrations.