Club Lotus Australia is full of interesting people doing interesting things with interesting cars.
We want to tell their stories, and through this develop and preserve a written history of the club, its members and their cars. So, when ever we have the opportunity, we enjoy a chat with one of our members to share their story with you right here on the Club website!
This month, we get to know historic racer, car sorter and all ‘round nice guy Daniel Bando.
Dan. From when I was about six, my dad started taking me to historic meetings. One day, back in about 1980, we went to one at Amaroo park where they put on a three-wheeler race for cars like the little Morgans.
That experience really stuck in my mind and that’s where the bug bit. I still have the programme and a framed promotional poster from the event.
Dad raced a Clubman in the ‘60s, and a photo of him in that Clubman hung above my bed for probably 30 years. I’ve always wanted to find that car, and that’s where Lotus came in for me.
When I was about 25 I bought a go-kart that I raced for about five years. It was great fun, but I never really made any friends doing it. There were a lot of young kids in the scene, and as I was a bit older there was no real social connection.
Dad and I ended up buying a Clubman together, which we took supersprinting. That’s when we joined club Lotus, and that was perfect. We found a very varied and interesting group of people in the Club, and ended up forming a wonderful network of friends and contacts.
The Clubmans were involved in a PRB series that I wanted to race in. At this point, Dad wanted his own car, so we bought a second one for him and I joined that PRB series. That’s how I started with my racing.
The PRB guys secured a grid with the HSRCA, which introduced me to the that club and historics. I really enjoyed those meetings, and they inspired me to get something historic.
CLA. We bang on about cars and horsepowers and shiny bits this and that, but really, we get together to make connections with people and share experiences.
Dan says it much more eloquently than I.
Dan. It’s all about the people – the Club is a network of interesting people from all walks of life.
That’s what I like about Club Lotus and the HSRCA. You’re racing with doctors, going for drives with advertising execs, and enjoying pizza at social nights with mechanics – people involved in all kinds of fascinating fields with all kinds of interests.
I had a mate who thought that car clubs were all just about the cars. That’s not really true – especially in Club Lotus – and I think it’s really important to communicate that with people outside of the Club. Cars bring us together, but we share all sorts of interests, so we get together to talk about life – cars are just one part of that.
I call Ed Holly my go-to guy, because when I have a problem I call Ed and he’ll know what to do. My connection with him came about through the Club, and there’s lots of guys like him in the Club. You give them a ring, have a chat and they’ll help you on your way or you can go and check out their shed.
I was with Trevor Simpson before Christmas, and without any prompting he’d given me three or four new contacts I could go to when working with the cars.
It’s a whole network of people, and that’s great fun!
CLA. Dan’s been working hard to put together a shed full of magic little motorcars. We recently enjoyed an evening getting to know them, and the stories of how he found them and why he likes them are the kind that speak to car people everywhere.
Dan. I have a ’94 MX5 that I’ve had for 17 years – it’s my Elan that works!
An Elan’s always been my dream car. Every Club member I speak with who has an Elan always seems to have to fix something before they can drive it. The MX5 is just too easy!
If I do get an Elan one day I’m going to drive it – I want something that runs, and it has to be a driver’s car.
My Clubman was built by Peter Taylor, who did Targa Tasmania and was involved with the Lotus Club for quite a while. Peter and his brother Gordon both built very early PRBs.
One day I invited Peter to come have a look at his old car. He was amazed when he saw it. He hadn’t seen it in over twenty years and just couldn’t get over the condition it was in and how it was being used.
Three or so years ago I was doing my usual eBay and internet search of cars for sale and I spotted a Lotus 51 for sale in the States. This was back when the dollar was very near parity. It looked like a good little car, right up my alley, and a good little buy. Formula Ford rules in period meant that you had to have an Australian chassis, so the 51 hadn’t really made it to Australia.
I emailed the owner, and it just happened that at the same time there was an article in the Victorian magazine about a member in Queensland who’d imported a 51.
I contacted the Queensland club and they put me on to the guy. We had a long chat and I was able to ask him all about the process and car. He mentioned that he know of someone who was interested in the car, and the next day it had been sold.
That experience began a twelve month quest for me to find a 51. I had someone in the States looking for one, and in the end I had two or three to choose from. The owners in the States were all so slow in the process, however, that in the meantime the guy in Queensland, who I’d become friends with, contacted me and asked if I’d like to buy his car.
I said gimme your bank details and had dropped a deposit in his bank in no time. My car is one of only two in the country – the other car that I tried to buy originally is now in Queensland, and I’ve met its owner as well.
We had a very special meeting at Eastern Creek recently where we brought together four Lotus 51s and 61s out of the two 51s and maybe six or seven 61s in the country. It was great fun being together with the guys, and it’s the sort of opportunity that can only arise through the network of the Club.
I’ve been working on the car and am nearly there. I’m not 100% happy in the fitting and ergonomics, but I made some good progress at Wakefield Park in February and Ed’s been helping me. The car creates a lot of attention, which is fun!
My other car is a Formula Vee that’s a huge amount of fun. It’s easy to drive and not that fast. It’s really affordable and respectful racing.
CLA. Going racing requires a support crew, and Dan has one of the best.
Dan. I’m exceptionally grateful for my wife Jasmin, who’s a huge encouragement. When ever I find a car for sale she just tells me to have a go. I’d love to get her to drive!
I’ve been able to do it all with my young daughter, Layla, and now my son Joshua, and that’s because of Jasmin. I’m extremely lucky and she’s exceptionally understanding and wonderful with our kids. I should also thank my mother in law, who is a huge help with baby sitting!
My dad really fuelled my passion and I would be absolutely stuck without him.
The racing car can take up a lot of time, especially when you’re pulling the motor out or doing big jobs on it. He’ll go and chase parts or deliver bits and do anything to help out. He comes along to every race meeting and usually tows the car out.
I couldn’t do half of what I do without him. And it’s a bond that we share through these experiences and the people we meet. He just loves being in the pits with all the people, and it’s wonderful to share that.
I’d love for my son or daughter to get into the sport and the car community! I used to go to Amaroo with Dad, and now it’s come full circle because we’re bringing our kids along. And they’ll surely have a few fun cars to play with when they’re older!
CLA. Thanks Dan for taking the time to chat with us and sharing your experiences!
Dan. What I’ve learned through everything that I’ve done is that if there’s something you’re interested in, you just have to have a crack at it. I’ve always been a little nervous to have a go at things, and I’ve learned that you just have a go, and if you make a mistake you try again.
Get out there and get involved in the things you’re interested in and you’ll learn something new and have some great experiences.