LOCAL motor racing enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see the legendary Fechner and Henderson Wolseley Special number 10, affectionately known as the Flying W when it races at the Leyburn Sprints on August 18.
The event commemorates the Australian Grand Prix held at Leyburn in 1949 on a disused wartime airstrip and will see more than 200 classic and late-model performance vehicles race for glory.
The original was built by brothers Rob and Brian Fechner and their best mate Len Henderson on Brisbane Street, Beaudesert, in 1955.
The Flying W had a model T Ford chassis with a Lancia front end and a Wolseley engine and always drew a crowd at race meets.
Brian Fechner, now 82, said he remembered clearly how pleased the young trio had been when their good friend Pik Buchanan offered the use of his workshop.
“Before that we were doing everything with hand tools and we didn’t even have electricity,” he said.
“Pik’s workshop had everything we needed to build our car.”
The car was retired from the racing circuit in 1957 and was eventually cut up and used for a dewatering pump but in the late 90s South Australian historical racing enthusiast Eric Cossich brought the Flying W back to life, complete with the original front end and the same type of engine and gear box.
Mr Fechner said many people in Beaudesert would remember the car and be interested to see it race again.
“It did bring a tear to my eye when I saw it,” he said.
“It was marvellous – it looks exactly the same – but it was sad my brother Rob wasn’t there.
“He was the only one of us who was a qualified mechanic back then.”
He said his brother had been aware of Mr Cossich’s project as they had all given permission for him to start the rebuild.
Rob Fechner passed away on February 11, 2009 and never got to see the Flying W finished and race-ready.
“He would have loved it,” Mr Fechner said.
“We only raced it in 1955-56 and we got over the cars when the women got into our heads but he would have loved to see it.”
Mr Henderson, who drove the Flying W in its final race at the Burleigh Hill Climb in 1956, said he was also pleased with Mr Cossich’s efforts.
He said he had maintained an interest in motor building and racing over the years, competing in his Jaguar racing car well into his 80s.
“I turned 85 in May and I’ve only just given it away,” he said.