1962 Armstrong 500, Phillip Island…

Posted: February 7, 2023 in Touring Cars
Tags: ,

Australia’s incipient love of touring cars started about here at Phillip Island on October 21, 1962, or in the first event two years before anyway.

These State Library of Victoria shots are showing signs of age but are all the more potent for it, so evocative as they are of a time long ago.

The group above is the tiddler – cars costing less than 900 pounds – class, the other three classes have already been flagged away. The #51 Triumph Herald is crewed by Hoot Gibson/Paul England/Jack Madden, #49 is the Doug Whiteford/Lou Molina VW, the Morris 850 was raced by George House/Clarrie Head. ‘Row three’ comprises the #48 George Reynolds/Jim McKeown VW – who won the class – #47 the Stan Martin/Les Park Triumph Herald, #50 the VW of Tony Theiler/Bob Foreman/Reg Lunn and the Graham Hoinville/Kevin Burns Ford Anglia. The #40 and #43 Minis are crewed by Jack Hunnam/John Hartnett and D Hooker/Terry Allan, finally, the #45 Triumph Herald in between those two Minis is the George Poulton/R Poulton/M Watson car.

There are plenty of fellas among this lot who were or became prominent in the sport; drivers – Paul England, Doug Whiteford, Lou Molina, George Reynolds, Jim McKeown, Jack Hunnam. Administrator/co-driver/team owner/engineer – Graeme Hoinville, Hoot Gibson, John Hartnett and Paul England.

We’ve been here before, towards the end of this piece, click here; https://primotipo.com/2020/02/15/australias-ford-falcon-the-early-race-rally-cars/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/03/15/1961-armstrong-500-bob-janeharry-firth-mercedes-benz-win/

Nice! Stephen Dalton’s programme complete with autographs of the victors, Messrs Firth and Jane

It’s not a big deal flagging the cars away separately by class, back in the day there was no overall winner, the awards were entirely class-based. But the taxi-lobby needed a winner as the race is part of the Bathurst continuum, and not having a winner wasn’t an option for them. So decades later, the car that did the quickest time was adjudged the winner, the Ford Falcon XL driven by Harry Firth and Bob Jane. Car 20B above is another of the works-Falcon entries, this one driven by Ken Harper, John Raeburn and Syd Fisher. The chasing #49 Volksy is that crewed by Whiteford/Molina.


Hmm, where is the wayward Bill Buckle/Brian Foley Scuderia Veloce Citroen ID19? It could be the area to the right as you exit Siberia perhaps, but if that is the case WTF is the driver doing there? Whatever the case, that car’s suspension would have absorbed the worst of the Island’s infield without difficulty, they finished fifth in Class A too, so no damage was done. Doesn’t it still look futuristic 60 years later, the French made distinctive cars then?


Yet another car in need of a compass is the fifth in Class A, Wal Gillespie/Vic Croft Chrysler Valiant. That’s Kildunda in the distance, I think he is off to the right on the entry to Southern Loop (turn one in the dull shit-boring parlance of today). Mind you, if you lost it on the way in there, that spot is not the likely one where physics would take you, but perhaps he copped a Rock Hudson on the way-in? Thoughts?


Harry Firth or Bob Jane – winners aboard the Firth prepared works-Ford Falcon XL – in search of an apex at MG, or is it Honda? I’ve done hundreds of laps at Phillip Island but the undergrowth is a good deal different in recent times than not long after the circuits opening in 1956.


State Library of Victoria, Wikipedia, Stephen Dalton Collection



Simpler times, not a hospitality pantech or marketing-stroker to be seen. The Copse is in the distance and main straight to the left of the finish line. Wasn’t the latter a staggering statement of the obvious that is positively feminine…


  1. John Ballantyne says:

    Thanks for posting this and all the other great bits of motorsport history you dig up!

  2. Bob Morrow says:

    I was there for the Armstrongs they were great. The fact that cars were split into classes really added to the interest , it wasn’t just about the outright winner. You don’t mention that the running of the Armstrongs really beat up the track and PIARC didn’t have the money to repair it so the race went to Bathurst. – sadly .

  3. Alan says:

    The first pic you say the #49 VW was Molina/Whiteford, but in the third image you say #49 is Reynolds/McKewon?

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