1961 Armstrong 500: Bob Jane/Harry Firth Mercedes Benz Win…

Posted: March 15, 2016 in Touring Cars, Who,What,Where & When...?
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This view in race direction looking down the main straight and into the daunting ‘Doohan’ Turn 1 ‘Southern Loop’ section of the track (Kevin Drage)

Kevin Drage’s wonderful aircraft shot shows packed  Phillip Island during the 1961 Armstrong 500, Australia’s growing obsession with Touring Cars underway

The race was held at the Phillip Island on 19 November 1961 over 167 laps of the 3.0 mile circuit, a total of 501 miles (807 km).

It was the second event held in the combined history of the Armstong 500/Bathurst 500/Bathurst 1000 which began in 1960 with the first Armstrong 500.


Jane/Firth take the chequered flag. Jaguar dominated the local prestige market in Oz then…but not for too much longer, the German onslaught began about here!? (autopics)

Bob Jane and Harry Firth were the only combination to complete the full race distance, earning the pair the first of their four outright race wins in Jane’s ‘Autoland’ Mercedes Benz 220SE. Mind you, the concept of an outright race win was not be officially recognised until 1965. Mercedes, Studebaker and Renault each took class wins.

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Fabulous Phillip Island day! Len Lukey’s airstrip in the foreground. This shot is of the cars coming out of ‘Siberia’, (top of shot towards Bass Strait) through the flat out right-hander towards ‘Lukey Heights’ (Kevin Drage)


Ms Phillip Island coping well with the Bass Strait Breeze (gales) whilst Touring Car Maestro’s Firth and Jane look suitably pleased with their work…many race wins to come for these two as both drivers and team owners/managers (autopics)


Pits; the red car is, i think, the Class D winning Renault Gordini of Jim Gullan, Brian Sampson and John Connolly, the grey car, the Class A winning Studebaker Lark of David McKay and Brian Foley. (Kevin Drage)


Harry Firth, i think, by the look of the crouch, just entering the left hand rise ‘Lukey Heights’ before the drop into ‘MG’, M Benz 220SE. (autopics)

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David McKay, left and Brian Foley, drivers of the Studebaker pictured below (Kevin Drage)


The 2nd place Studebaker Lark entered by York Motors, driven by champion drivers David McKay and Brian Foley. (Kevin Drage)


Kevin Drage, autopics.com.au, Wikipedia

  1. Rob says:

    Good to see that the “outright victory” by Jane & Firth has been acknowleged in the story as unofficial, something that is usually overlooked in articles on these early Armstrong 500s.

    You may like to add Peugeot to Mercedes, Studebaker and Renault as class winners for 1961 as a 403 took the top prize in Class C (1001 – 1600cc). Also, there appears to be a typo in “…… which began in 1962 with the first Armstrong 500” as the first race was of course held in 1960.



  2. Martyn H says:

    Any idea if the blue Gordini is number D4, the Beechey / March car? Insights into whether it was a 3 car team, colour ‘coded’ ?

    • markbisset says:

      It appears as tho each of the three Gordini’s were individual entries.
      D4 probably is the Beechey/March car. A simple google search shows Les Park racing a maroon Gordini at Bathurst in ’63- so I’m guessing his car was the same @ P Island- therefore the blue car is D4…Maybe!

  3. Rob says:


    According to the Official Programme for the 1961 Amstrong 500:

    D2 was entered by Ian W. Robertson for Les Park, Stan Martin & Rex Broadhead
    D3 was entered by Monash Service Station for John Connolly, Brian Sampson & Jill Gullan
    D4 was entered by W. McB. March for Bill March & Norm Beechey

    No colors given.



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