Murray Carter blasts his Carter Corvette sporty across the top of Mount Panorama in October 1961, just before the daunting drop into Skyline. The cars fuel injected, 5 litre, 300bhp V8 echoed between the eucalypt trees and into the valley below…
Its such a wonderful shot, he looks lean and lithe-he is only a little bloke, you can see the injection trumpets and ‘maggie’, sitting proud of the unpainted, aluminium bonnet fashioned by Murray’s own hands.
Murray was running 2nd in the 75 mile Australian Tourist Trophy on 1 October, behind Bib Stillwell’s 2.5 litre Cooper Monaco Climax and Frank Matich’s Jag D Type before retiring on lap 8 with diff failure in the 19 lap event. Look closely at the photo and you can see the smoke from a differential which is about to cry ‘enough’!
It was a classy field of great depth, the competitiveness of Murray’s self constructed car amongst the factory built Jags, Aston’s, Coopers, Maserati and Lotus’ clear; as was its top speed, 154mph down Conrod during practice! Stillwell won from Matich and Bob Janes Maserati 300S.
Carter has been around forever. Born in 1931, i thought he looked like an old codger at the first race meeting I attended, the 1972 Sandown Tasman round, the ignorance of a 14 year old. He raced his Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 3 at that meeting in the ‘South Pacific Touring Car Championship’, a series of races held throughout the Australian Tasman Rounds.
An out and out racer, he still runs a Corvette C5 in Victorian race meetings the car prepared in his Moorabbin workshop, in Melbourne’s southern bayside suburbs, where all of his cars have been built down the decades.
Murray raced other cars but for years was a Ford stalwart, never a factory driver but the recipient of plenty of assistance from Broadmeadows. He was no slouch either, 2nd in the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1975 in a Falcon GT 351 Coupe and 4th in 1980 in a similarly powered Ford Falcon XD, his best performances. At Bathurst his best finish was 3rd in 1978 in a Ford Falcon XC GT Coupe this time sharing with single-seater ace, Kiwi, Graeme Lawrence.
Like so many drivers he started racing bikes, campaigning a Triumph Tiger 100 at circuits like Fishermans Bend in 1948, aged 17 before switching to cars with a Jaguar XK120.
In search of more speed but as a panel beater unable to afford a factory car he set forth to create a more competitive mount. His original intention was to build a mid-engined single-seater to compete in Gold Star events, Australia’s National Drivers Championship, which was run to F Libre at the time.
Unable to locate a suitable transaxle to cope with the 283cid Chev’s power and torque, Murray placed the relatively light, small block Chev well back in his space frame chassis locating the 4 speed box behind it. He achieving 50/50 front/rear weight distribution that way.
The car raced in chassis form with vestigial panels to support a race number at Fishermans Bend in October 1959. It was immediately competitive, even achieving 4th place in the Philiip Island Gold Star round, behind the Coopers in December 1959.
Back at Phillip Island in March 1960, he had an argument about local real estate with Bib Stillwell and came off second best, rolling the car and all but destroying it.
Looking at the plethora of Cooper T51’s coming into Australia and at the growth of sportscar racing, he decided to rebuild the car as a sportscar constructing the functional aluminium body himself. The Carter Corvette reappeared at in October 1960.
The car was immediately successful, winning races and holding lap records around the country.
When CAMS adopted Appendix K, GT Racing in Australia, Carter modified the car with vestigial coupe bodywork. Whilst it looked as ugly as sin it remained fast finishing the one race 1963 Australian GT Championship in 2nd place at Calder. The event was won by Bob Jane in his factory built LWT Jaguar E Type, a car acquired with rather a greater budget than Murray’s beast!
Eventually the car fell into disuse but still exists, wonderfully restored by the talented Lou Russo in 2007 or thereabouts, and driven by his son Michael in historic events. Meanwhile, Murray Carter, forever young at 86, races on…
VHRR website, Stephen Dalton Collection, Peter D’Abbs/autopics.com
John Medley ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’
Tailpiece: Bob Jane’s lightweight E Type leads the Carter Corvette at Calder…