This year’s Historic Leyburn Sprints for historic and classic cars, which were scheduled to run on 22-23 August, have been cancelled and 25th anniversary celebrations of the event deferred to next year.

The local community-run organising committee says it could not guarantee that the original date, or a possible postponed date later this year would be able to run viably within Covid-19 restrictions.

The Historic Leyburn Sprints, which were launched in 1996 to commemorate the 1949 Australian Grand Prix on an ex-wartime airfield, usually attracts up to 210 competing cars and around 15,000 spectators.

Annual proceeds are distributed to local community organisations and projects and the event delivers a significant economic benefit to the southern Darling Downs region. One of the most popular highlights of the national historic motor-racing calendar, it was the 2017 Queensland Motor Sport Event of the Year.

Sprints President Tricia Chant said the organisers had waited as long as possible to make the difficult decision.

“We were of course keen to run, because the event means so much to the small Leyburn community and because we look forward to the reunion with our competitors, but many organising commitments would have to be made now while the future is still too uncertain,” she said.

“We wanted to ensure, also, that our little community stayed safe during these times. It would not be fair on our population, many of whom are of the older generation, to have people from afar potentially bringing the virus with them. We know that Australia will be in a much better position to cope with this virus in 12 months’ time.

“There’s no point in running the Sprints if we can’t accommodate a good roll-up of competitors and spectators, who often come from interstate or elsewhere in regional Queensland.

“We also would not be able to do justice to our planned 25th anniversary celebrations. We’d rather hold these over to 2021 and ensure they’re the memorable occasion they deserve to be.”

A proposed date for the 2021 Historic Leyburn Sprints will be announced after consultation with the national organising body Motorsport Australia, although it is expected to be in August as usual.

The Queensland Government’s Queensland Destination Events Program, as well as the Southern Downs Regional Council provide financial assistance to help promote the Sprints and attract visitors to the Southern Downs region.

This car shown here is a 1939 MG TB Special, owned by Colin Schiller of Cambooya on the Darling Downs.

It contested the 1949 Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn, driven by John Nind, but failed to finish due to a mechanical problem. The MG was raced in five Australian Grand Prix events before/after 1950.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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