Forming a part of the unique Melbourne and motorsport zeitgeist is the name Stillwell. Similarly, MINI is synonymous with Melbourne’s cast of the cool and
motor racing in Australia. This coming Queen’s Birthday long weekend (June 7-9), both will combine at Sandown Raceway for the fourth round of MINI
Two sons of the legendary Bib Stillwell – Michael and Nick – will line up as part of the biggest MINI CHALLENGE field yet and the family team will have four MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE racecars under its control, including the Series’UBER-STAR CAR and a car for Brighton resident, Gary Young.
“We grew up in the pits at Sandown during the Tasman Series era and had the likes of Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark at our house regularly during that period,” said Michael. “It was a wonderful time in my life and going to Sandown is just like going home.”Their father won the Australian Gold Star four years in succession in the early 60s and raced in a golden era that included Sir Jack Brabham’s international successes. Indeed, Michael spent the final year of Sir Jack’s F1 career crewing for the triple World Champion.
Despite Michael winning the Australian Under 2-Litre Touring Car Championship in 1972, the Stillwell name had all but disappeared from the national scene. It has, however, become synonymous with the motoring industry in Melbourne, the family-owned dealer network now comprising 10 dealerships across six marques and employing over 500 people.
MINI CHALLENGE provided the catalyst for the Stillwells to return to the national arena, with Michael and Nick sharing duties in the #60 Bib Stillwell MINI Garage racer.
After spending his college years in the United States – where their father resided for many years – Nick got into racing upon returning to Australia. Nick has directed much of his racing energies in the historic arena – in restored MINI racecars – therefore he is ultra-familiar with the legendary MINI go-kart
At Sandown, though, having secured another MINI CHALLENGE racecar for Michael, there will be no gentlemanly racing – its sibling rivalry at its absolute
“There are no team orders, we’re out there to race hard and there will be no quarter given from either of us,” Michael said. “All bets are off, we’ll be going
tooth and nail, it's dog eat dog!”
Nick was quick to remind big brother that his points for Sandown don’t go towards their private battle to see who races at Bathurst.
“We each had two rounds to determine who would get to race at Bathurst,” Nick explained. “After Barbagallo, I am sitting quite nicely, thank-you, having finished in the top 10 in all three races! Michael was quick to jump back on board when the opportunity came up, but he’s forgotten that his Sandown points don’t count – to our family battle anyway!”
Michael raced the first two MINI CHALLENGE events, whilst Nick had his first taste of the Series at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway one month ago.
Adding to the nostalgia of the weekend for the Stillwell boys will be the revival of the racing number that Bib made famous throughout Australia – #6.
Michael will wear #6 and has newly liveried the Bib Stillwell MINI Garage MINI in ‘serious’ black.
“It’s the number Dad carried to all of his successes and I used 6 when I won the Under-2 Litre Touring Car Championship,” Michael explained. “It’s going to be a special weekend all round for the Stillwells.”
The brothers Stillwell join two other leading competitors from Melbourne in the hunt to chase down current Series Leader – Seven Network personality, Grant Denyer.
Round two winner, Nathan Geier, is looking to recapture that form after he almost rolled his Sherrin Rentals MINI at Barbagallo Raceway. His car was
airborne and perpendicular to the race circuit, before coming crashing back to earth on all four wheels.
On the contrary, last year’s Australian Performance Cars Champion – Gary Young – comes into Sandown on a high having taken his first MINI CHALLENGE race win in the second stanza at Barbagallo.
MINI CHALLENGE will feature practice and qualifying on Saturday, with three races across the weekend – two on Sunday and one on the holiday Monday in support of the Midas 400 V8 Supercar Championship Series event.
Highlights of the Sandown event will be shown on the Seven Network on Saturday June 28 at 1:30pm nationally. If you cannot wait that long, all the
action from round three of MINI CHALLENGE will be on the Seven Network this Saturday, May 31 at 1:30pm.
POINTS AFTER ROUND 3 of 8 (Top 20):
1. Grant Denyer – 444
2. Neil McFadyen – 432
3. Paul Stokell – 345
4. Paul Fiore – 330
5. Nathan Geier – 330
6. Gary Young – 288
7. Todd Fiore – 198
8. David Turner – 180
9. Damien White – 156
10. Nathan Callaghan – 138
11. Iain Sherrin – 117
12. Darren Berry – 105
13. Michael Stillwell – 81
14. Nick Stillwell – 66
15. Damien Flack – 60
16. Chris Oxley – 54
16. Ricky Occhipinti – 54
18. Michael Sherrin – 45
19. Jim Sweeney – 42
20. Callum Ballinger - 39
2008 MINI CHALLENGE CALENDAR:
Round 1: March 7-9 – Eastern Creek, Sydney, NSW (Round Winner: Neil McFadyen)
Round 2: April 4-6 – Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW (Round Winner: Nathan Geier)
Round 3: May 9-11 – Barbagallo, Perth, WA (Round Winner: Damien White)
Round 4: June 7-9 – Sandown, Melbourne, Vic
Round 5: September 12-14 – Phillip Island, Vic
Round 6: October 9-12 – Mount Panorama, Bathurst, NSW
Round 7: November 21-23 – Symmons Plains, Tasmania
Round 8: December 4-7 – Oran Park, Sydney, NSW
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