ALMOST 50 years ago Laurie Stewart, owner of Southern Highlands Taxis, retired from motor racing.
Mr Stewart made the decision to retire in order to concentrate on his business and family despite a successful career racing his Mini Broadspeed and other saloon cars on tracks around Australia.
The owner of the now iconic Broadspeed Mini, Jono Morris, recently invited Mr Stewart to drive the restored car in a parade lap at the famous Bathurst, Mount Panorama circuit.
Mr Stewart was able to do this prior to the start of the Bathurst 1000 and said the memories came flooding back.
Along with his wife Cheryl, Mr Stewart joined what was close to 50 Minis of various types with their owners.
They were all at Bathurst to celebrate the 50th year of Mini racing at the circuit.
Mr Stewart was amazed at the recognition from Mini enthusiasts and spent the morning signing autographs.
He marvelled at the display of cars, which included a genuine “as new” 5000 miles Morris 850, which the owner refused to sell for $60,000.
The Broadspeed which was purchased for $85,000 five years ago by Jono Morris is believed to be now worth at least $150,000.
“I had difficulty selling it in 1968 for $3,500,” Mr Stewart said. During the parade lap Mr Stewart was able to give the Broadspeed some throttle with Mr Morris videoing from the passenger seat.
The car did not reach the 128 mph (approx. 215 kph) for which the car became famous as the then fastest Mini in the world in 1967.
“But it was great fun and a weekend with some wonderful people, which we will never forget.” Mr Stewart said.
Mr Stewart raced in the Broadspeed Mini raced over two years in 1966 and 67.
With his car, he won his class in every race and set new lap records for the class.
He also enjoyed several outright wins and set the record for the world’s fastest mini at 128.6 mph at Bathurst in 1967.
Sharing a 1600 Alfa Romeo GTV with Kevin Bartlett, Mr Stewart finished fourth outright in the 1967 Bathurst 1000.
Also during 1965/66 Mr Stewart successfully raced a Morris Cooper S in the under 1100 cc class which dominated that class with ongoing lap records at all Australian east coast circuits.