Every two years the Australian Lancia community hosts a very large Lancia rally a bit north of Melbourne. It is a long way from Europe or the US, and one might wonder why would anyone go so far to see some Lancias? The event is different than one might suspect - first, there are a remarkable number of cars - this year there were 95 Lancias (!) including roughly 4 Kappas (one was a pretty complete chassis), a Trikappa block on display, and 17 Lambdas. Apart from some massive Italian reunion held every five or ten years, I think this is the biggest ongoing Lancia gathering. The Sliding Pillar rally in Europe (it alternates between the mainland, often Belgium or northern France and England) is almost this sizable, limited only (I think) due to accommodations.
Yet Castlemaine has other attributes that make it special. There is a week long tour afterwards, and cars (yes, vintage Lancias) are arranged for the overseas guests to drive. As one of the organizers said, "the natives are friendly". Very much so.
They have a guest of honor, to speak (hopefully with some knowledge) on some aspect of Lancia history to the gathering on Saturday afternoon (the weekend starts on Friday, extends to Sunday, the tour starting on Monday). I've had this honor twice, this time on the event of the Kappa's 100th birthday. The talk was attended by about 120 people, and went well. Of interest was such a full range of cars - practically all series of B20 were represented, practically every model from the Kappa on (Augustas, Aprilia, Ardea) with the exception of Artena and Astura (an Artena/Astura/Lince special in construction was seen later).
And then there is the wealth of knowledge. There are several older members of the Lancia community (referred to by some as the Lancia royalty), who were more than happy to share their wisdom, including Bill Jamieson (Lambda historian), Peter Renou, Paul Vellacott (been around Lancias since the 1960s), John Doyle (in Turin from 1968-1978, key to Lancia findings from then, interviewed Falchetto), and others. Then there are the expert engineers, including John Shellard with his Kappa and Lambdas, John Brennan and Iain Simpson (Lambda), Andrew Torti with the earlier cars, and Andrew Cox and Noel Macwhirter (Aprilias). Add in a few overseas experts, such as Gerald Batt (all Lancias, especially Lambdas), Angela Verschoor (Flavia and Lince), John Milham (Lambda and Augusta), Sebastien Simon (Lambda and Aurelia) and Paul Tullius (too many to list!), and it's a pretty special group. And they all speak English!
Needless to say a great time was had. Chris Long was generous enough to lend his lovely Aurelia B20 s.6 for us to tour in, so we were in good comfort - except for the afternoon when we chose to drive Iain Simpson's Lambda in the open air, blessed with sleet and rain. Well worth it, highly recommended. Nice people, good cars, lots to see and do. Time flies when you are there. Never enough time to talk to everyone.
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