Posts Tagged ‘Norm Beechey’

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines, there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK by ship, it’s destiny and whereabouts unclear to this day.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

(HRCCT)

Norm Beechey and Jim McKeown at Symmons Plains in February 1968…

Both the Chev Nova and injected Lotus Cortina Mk2 were top-liners in 1968 albeit the one race Australian Touring Car Championship was won again that year by Pete Geoghegan’s Ford Mustang from Darrell King, Morris Cooper S and Alan Hamilton’s just arrived in the country Porsche 911S/T. It was Geoghegan’s fourth of five ATCC titles.

The 34 lap event was held at Warwick Farm on 8 September, by that stage Norm had replaced the Nova with a Chev Camaro- he retired with mechanical dramas after 11 laps whilst Jim’s race was over after only 2- axle failure the cause.

(L Ruting)

Photographs of the Camaro SS are not plentiful as it raced for only a short period- four meetings (Warwick Farm twice, Calder and Catalina) from July to September 1968 inclusive of the ATCC race where he qualified on the second row- the car was an ‘in between’.

The Nova raced from Easter 1966 and the Holden Monaro’s with which he became synonomous in the latter stages of his career date from October 1968, the Camaro fitted in between.

The photo above is during the first lap of the 1968 ATCC race with Pete up front, then Norm and the Bob Jane Mustang.

See this piece on the 1969 ATCC; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/ , and on 1970; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/01/variety-is-the-spice/

Beechey trying to pursuade the Nova to turn in, Paul Fahey and Red Dawson in Mustangs, Rod Coppins in Chev Camaro at Baypark, NZ 1968 (T Marshall)

Etcetera…

(M Rogers)

Beechey and John French, Nova and Cooper S on the Surfers Paradise grid in 1967.

Credit…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Lance Ruting, Rod MacKenzie, Steve Holmes- The Roaring Season, Terry Marshall, Mervin Rogers

Tailpiece: Beechey and Geoghegan at Catalina Park 18 August 1968…

(R MacKenzie)

Classic Ford/GM, Geoghegan/Beechey battle. Who won?

Finito…

It’s the end of the swinging-sixties- the Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and others ‘Pop Art’ phase is in full bloom…

It’s interesting to look at the graphic design and advertising imagery of the period which is wonderfully full of it, the style even extended to some stickers in Australia’s ‘Racing Car News’ magazine.

For the princely sum of 20 cents the six decals would be in your letterbox within the week, don’t you love the immediacy of snail-mail? The cheap giveaway was a time honoured technique in the pre-internet days of building a database of potential customers, oh for simpler times when identity fraud was rare rather than something to be mindful of in our daily online interactions.

The cars and drivers are all well known to Australian enthusiasts and include some of the stars of the day many of whom I have written about in whole or in passing.

The first image is Kevin Bartlett’s Alec Mildren Racing Mildren Waggott ‘Yellow Submarine’, a car first raced by Frank Gardner in the 1969 Tasman Series and then used by KB to win the Gold Star later that season. Click here for more; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/14/missed-it-by-that-much/

Frank Matich’s Matich SR4 Repco was built to contest the 1968 Can-Am series but ran hopelessly late so crucified local opposition in the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship instead. Click here for a long feature on it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

Whilst the Niel Allen sticker says McLaren M10B, the car depicted is the M4A he acquired at the end of the 1968 Tasman Series from Piers Courage. This piece on the ’68 South Pacific Trophy at Longford, won by Courage tells a bit about this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

The final three cars featured are Pete Geoghegan’s Australian built Mustang above (as in built for racing), Norm Beechey’s Holden HK Monaro GTS 327 with Bob Jane’s Shelby constructed Mustang as the ‘Tailpiece’. All of these machines are covered in an article I wrote about the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship won by Geoghegan. Here ’tis; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

 

Credits…

Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece…

Finito…

David Mist wasn’t a motor racing photographer but he took some interesting shots on assignments allocated to him by the advertising agency USP Benson…

The client on this occasion was Shell, the ‘talent’ the Scuderia Veloce racing team owned and operated by David McKay and perhaps the Warwick Farm circuit itself. Mist’s gigs incuded the ’63 and ’67 AGP weekends, ‘the 1965 Shell Racing Series Scuderia Veloce Racing Team’ and a meeting at Catalina Park, Katoomba. Click here for a link to an article which includes background on SV; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/04/scuds/

Its David McKay on the grid, above, with driver Greg Cusack and Greg’s Elfin Catalina Ford FJ circa 1964. It won the 1964 Australian Formula 2 Championship, at Lowood, Queensland, chassis ‘6310’ is now owned by the National Motor Racing Museum.

Cusack came through the world of rallying and burst onto the racing scene with speed in a Lotus 23, an Elfin Mallala sportscar, the Catalina above and then into a Brabham BT6 Ford. During this time he progressively built a significant automotive retailing business, a Ford dealership in Canberra. Perhaps this dual focus of business and racing mitigated against ultimate motor racing success but he rose right through the ranks to race McKay’s Brabham BT23A Repco Tasman 2.5 Formula car.

Interestingly this very chassis, Jack’s 1967 Tasman weapon- ‘BT23A-1’ has recently been acquired by the National Automobile Museum, which is good and bad! Good in that it stays in Australia, bad in that it now becomes a static museum exhibit rather than occasionally raced as it has been by Peter Simms for the last 30 years.

The Tasman meetings attracted enormous crowds, here the crush is around Graham Hill’s Lotus in 1967.

Sticking with Graham, here he is no doubt leaning against his courtesy car for the weekend. Its a big Datsun/Nissan Cedric, I wonder what GH thought of it? I wrote an article about the Prince/Nissan R380 racer a short while ago which tangentially talks about the rise and rise of the Japanese manufacturers in Australia in the sixties. Click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2017/12/08/prince-datsun-make-that-nissan-r380/

The popularity of touring car racing in Australia began in the fifties and has exploded exponentially since. Sadly. Sadly in that the ascension has been at the expense of the purer forms of the sport- single seaters and sports-racing cars. Still, the market has spoken and we enthusiasts of the Real McKoy have to suck it up and remember the glory days of the fifties to seventies, and even then other than at Tasman time, grids could be pretty shitful in quantity if not in quality.

One of the touring car greats as a racer, personality and crowd pleaser was Norm Beechey, winner of the 1965 and 1970 ATCC in Ford Mustang and Holden Monaro 350 respectively, here aboard his Chev Impala in 1963.

He was a member of the SV squad at the time, winning the NSW Touring Car Championship in this car on the ultra tight, Catalina Park circuit. McKay is alongside the car together, I think with Claude Morton, Norm’s mechanic. David is in driving gear so he’s not quite retired. I’m guessing this as the 1963 Australian GP weekend in February, McKay finished a splendid 4th in his Brabham BT4 Climax in that race behind Brabham, Surtees and McLaren.

The spinner below is Gavin Youl in a Brabham BT2 Ford, the passing Nota BMC is Les Howard’s chassis owned by John Medley for 45 or so years!

Photo Credits…

All shots by David Mist

Finito…

(M Walton)

Pete Geoghegan’s famous ’67 Mustang GTA leads a packed field at the start of the Australian Touring Car Championship, Easter Bathurst round on 30 March 1970…

This is what rocks the socks off touring car enthusiasts in Australia, this era of ‘taxis’ above all others for the variety of cars across the various classes. The drivers were ‘characters’ as well rather than the anodyne media schooled pro’s of today.

Here Pete enters Hell Corner ahead of 1970 Champion Norm Beechey’s 1970 Holden Monaro HT 350 GTS. Brian Foley slips up the inside of Bob Jane’s Shelby built ’68 Mustang in his 1969 2.2 Porker 911S with Allan Moffat’s 1969 KarKraft factory Mustang TransAm on the outside. Chris Brauer in his ex-Jane Mustang is ahead of a glimpse of ‘Skinny’ Manton’s yellow 1969 Cooper S, the only tiddler in shot.

All of these beasties are still alive with the exception of Brauer’s Mustang which met its maker at Lakeside several months later, on 26 July. Chris was edged off the track in a race incident, he hit the end of an armco barrier side on, destroying the car, hurting himself badly and ending his career. It was a very sad, grisly day in Queensland, popular Glynn Scott lost his life aboard an Elfin 600 Waggott 2 litre ANF1 car in a support event.

It was and still is a superb racing sedan in concept, execution and presentation- Minilites added to the sex appeal. Beechey, Holden HT model Monaro GTS350 V8 (N Watts)

Geoghegan took the Bathurst pole with a time of 2:29.9, 1.4 seconds ahead of Bob Jane with Moffat completing the front row of the grid. On row 2 were Beechey and Foley, and then McKeown’s 911S and Brauer.

Beechey used all 500 plus of his rampaging ‘neddies to lead going up Mountain Straight on the first lap whilst Moffat, 7th off the line made his way back to 3rd behind Beechey and Geoghegan during lap 1-before both Geoghegan and Moffat’s TransAm Mustang passed Beechey’s ‘TransAus’ Monaro going down Conrod Straight.

Geoghegan and Moffat pulled away from the rest of the field over the next 2 laps whilst ‘Stormin Norm’ Beechey suffered a misfire. On lap 4 Moffat slowed with plug problems which eventually caused his retirement, this gave Geoghegan space over Beechey and Jane who were battling over 2nd place.

Nick Petrilli, Holden Monaro HT GTS 350 also retired when a piston let go, then Jane spun at Forrest’s Elbow (photo below) a few laps later, taking the pressure off Beechey.

Jane spins his Shelby built 1968 TransAm Mustang on the exit of Forrests Elbow whilst Norm disappears down Conrod, Bathurst in the distance below. Car now in the US (N Watts)

Pete Geoghegan raced on worn tyres, Firestone did not have new tyres available! As a consequence Beechey was able to easily reduce Geoghegan’s lead in the second half of the contest.

At the same time, Phil Barnes began slowing in his Morris Cooper S, allowing Peter Manton, Bob Holden’s Escort Twin-Cam and Roy Griffith’s Falcon GTHO Ph1 past.

Beechey took the lead going into Murray’s Corner on lap 18 and pulled away for the win. Geoghegan held on for 2nd whilst Jane was 3rd despite his spin. The Porsche 911’s of McKeown and Foley finished 4th and 5th respectively whilst Brauer was the final point-scorer in 6th.

Beechey won three of the seven championship rounds that year and the title- Bathurst, Sandown and Lakeside, all power circuits- not that handling was an attribute unrequired at each track as well. Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911S (won Warwick Farm) was 2nd and the Mustangs of Jane and Geoghegan (won Mallala) 3rd and 4th in a hotly contested series.

Jim McKeown, Porsche 911S, Forrests Elbow, 911’s visually didn’t come better than these competition ‘small bumper’ machines (N Watts)

Click here for a superbly detailed Mark Oastler penned article on the brilliantly concepted, engineered and raced Beechey GTS 350 ‘Munro’…

https://www.shannons.com.au/club/news/ht-monaro-gts-350-is-this-holdens-greatest-muscle-racer/

Photo Credits…

Mark Walton, Nigel Watts on ‘The Roaring Season’, autopics.com.au

Tailpiece: Norm hooks into Hell Corner before the run up Mountain Straight where the Monaro’s 500 plus Chevy ponies were used to rather good effect…

Beechey, Foley and McKeown in their Porsche 911S from the Phil Barnes Cooper S

Finito…

(oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS327 V8 leads the field away for the final, deciding round of the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship, Symmons Plains, Tasmania 16 November….

Behind him is Alan Hamilton’s partially obscured Porsche 911T/R, local boy Robin Pare’s Ford Mustang, and then a Melbourne trio- Peter Manton’s Morris Cooper S, Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 and Jim Smith’s Morris Cooper S.

I was casting around my ‘stock of photos’ and realised I had quite a few shots of cars raced in the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC), or during other races that year, many by Dick Simpson so it seemed smart to pop some words to go with them.

This season has been done to death in many publications over the years, so treat this as a pictorial with enough words to provide international readers with the context they need rather than anything particularly insightful. For Australian enthusiasts the cars and drivers are well known, force-fed as we are in this country with all things ‘taxis’.

Moffat, Geoghegan and Jane at Calder in 1970. Mustangs a threesome- KarKraft TransAm, locally developed ’67 GTA and Shelby TransAm (R Davies)

What a sensational period for Touring Car racing it was, the ATCC was then run to Group C Improved Production Touring Car rules, there was so much variety from the big V8’s- the Geoghegan, Jane and Moffat Mustangs, Beechey’s HK Holden Monaro 327, Lotus Cortinas and Minis. The perennial giant killing ‘bricks’ driven by Brian Foley, ‘Skinny’ Manton, Phil Barnes amongst others.

That year was very significant, it was the first of the ‘modern era’, in that the championship was decided over a series of races rather than a one race, winner take all format as had been the case since the first title won by David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 at Gnoo Glas, Orange, NSW in 1960.

Brian Foley, Cooper S leads Geoghegan into the Warwick Farm Esses in 1969 (Dick Simpson)

Melbourne’s Alan Hamilton, his family were the Australian Porsche importer for decades, nearly pulled off a huge upset in ’69 coming within a point and five metres of beating Geoghegan to the title in his new 2 litre Porsche 911.

In 1967 after winning the Australian Hillclimb Championship and having on-circuit success with his 906, Hamilton decided to have a crack at the ATCC. I wrote an article about him and his cars a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

A 911R was out of the question as it didn’t comply with the rules but a steel-bodied 911R did.

The new 911T was homologated for Group 3 Grand Touring, Porsche in time honoured tradition developed a new Rallye Kit to cater for racers, offering a range of go-faster goodies and less weight by removing various luxuries.

As always with Porsche you could order whatever you liked, that included the ‘Carrera 6’ engine and running gear from the 911R! Hamilton knew the capabilities of the engine from his 906 Spyder. Two of them actually. The 1991cc six was good for 157kW/206Nm, complete with a lightweight flywheel, slippery diff, competition clutch and other bits a pieces, it turned the Rallye into a very competitive little weapon.

Hamilton in his 911T/R at Hume Weir in 1969 (oldracephotos,ocm/DSimpson)

The Signal Orange 911T/R arrived Australia in time for the 1968, one race ATCC at Warwick Farm, Sydney on 8 September, a highly technical circuit which placed a premium on handling, brakes and power, Hume Straight was a long one.

Geoghegan’s ’67 Mustang and Norm Beechey’s Chev Camaro 350 were the main threats to Porsche victory with local boy Pete Geoghegan the man most likely.

And so it proved, Pete ran away with the race securing his third title on the trot. Hamilton was as high as second but blew a rear tyre at Creek Corner on the last lap and disappeared into the boonies before recovering to finish third. Darrell King was second and Fred Gibson fourth in Cooper S and Niel Allen’s Mustang respectively.

In 1969 the title was decided over five rounds in five states- Calder on Melbourne’s Western outskirts in Victoria, Mount Panorama, Bathurst in the New South Wales Central Tablelands, Mallala, 60 Km north of Adelaide in South Australia, Surfers Paradise on Queenslands Gold Coast and Symmons Plains, near Launceston, Tasmania. Truly a national title indeed!

New star-cars of ’69- Beechey’s shortlived HK Monaro 327 and Moffat’s long-lived TransAm Mustang, Calder, late 1969 (R Davies)

Hamilton’s Porker was far from the only fresh 1969 ATCC contender…

Allan Moffat’s KarKraft Mustang Trans-Am 302, a sinfully sexy weapon in the hands of the droll, fast Canadian for the following six years was soon on the water and arrived in time for the Mallala round. Click here for the story on this magnificent machine;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/21/marvin-the-marvels-magic-mustang/

Norm Beechey had thrilled the crowds with a succession of exciting cars- Holden 48-215, Chev Impala, Ford Mustang, Chev Nova, Chev Camaro SS but for 1969 he built, with Holden’s assistance, an HK Monaro GTS powered by a 327 Chev cid V8.

Very early race for the new Beechey HK327 at Warwick Farm in late 1968- already some scars on the door! Car painted Shell blue over the summer- this colour and stripe combo ex-factory standard (R Thomas)

The car was built during ’68 by Norm’s team led by Claude Morton at Beechey’s Brunswick, Melbourne workshop. Whilst it was not completed in time for the ’68 ATCC it did defeat Geoghegan at Calder late that year.

Knocking off Pete in a car which was continually developed by John Sheppard in Sydney was always going to be a big challenge, lack of development time was a barrier, on the other hand the team knew Chev V8’s well, if not the balance of the new cars running gear.

In any event, Norm’s car had towards 500 bhp under the bonnet as the ’69 season approached- and had shown, even at this early stage, the pace to best Pete.

Beechey’s Holden HK Monaro 327 engine bay, circa 500 bhp from the Weber fed V8 (unattributed)

 

Calder Improved Tourer race later in ’69- this is Moffat giving Beechey a ‘love tap’ on the warm up lap! Geoghegan, Hamilton and McKeown follow (autopics)

The championship opened at Calder Park on March 23…

Geoghegan made the most of the freshly resurfaced track to score pole ahead of Bob Jane’s TransAm Mustang with Hamilton fourth behind Beechey’s Monaro. This car was very significant as the first of the Australian ‘Pony Cars’ to take on the American heavy metal which had dominated in Australia since the end of the ‘Jaguar Era’.

Beechey booting his Monaro around one of Calder’s tight corners during the ATCC round. Track only 1 mile long then (unattributed)

In a difficult start to the season Norm popped an engine in practice, decamping back to home base in Brunswick to rebuild the Chev bent-eight overnight.

Beechey led from the start but was passed by Geoghegan before turn one, Melbourne businessman/racer Jane passed Norm on lap 4 and Geoghegan on lap 5. Beechey popped another engine on lap 7!

Geoghegan tried everything to get up to and past Bob Jane at Calder in ’69- here throwing the car around in the manner for which he was famous (oldracephotos)

Jane had a strong lead but Pete came back at him, a passing move under brakes resulted in him running wide. Bob won the race at a circuit he would soon purchase from the Pascoe family who first built the facility in 1962. Geoghegan was second and then Hamilton third, a  lap down.

Bob Jane’s Shelby built Mustang Trans-Am, Bathurst 1969. Q2 and DNF. Bobs fortunes would change with the purchase of a Chev Camaro LT1 soonish (Bob Jane )

The fabulous, challenging Mount Panorama at Bathurst was the venue for round two on April 7…

Geoghegan had a sensational meeting plonking his ‘Stang on pole by 5 seconds and then proceeded to disappear during the race at the rate of ten seconds a lap. Pete was the master of Bathurst click on these links, about his Ferrari 250LM speed;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

and his win in the ’72 Bathurst ATCC round aboard his Super Falcon;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/15/greatest-ever-australian-touring-car-championship-race-bathurst-easter-1972/

Geoghegan, Mustang, Hell Corner, Bathurst 1968 (Dick Simpson)

In a meeting of attrition Jane qualified second but blew an engine on lap 9. Beechey boofed the Monaro in practice and did not start with Hamilton bending his rear suspension against the Forrest Elbow wall, finishing second, miles behind Geoghegan.

Phil Barnes, Cooper S from Mike Savvas Ford Falcon GT XT, Bathurst Esses  ATCC round 1969 (oldracephotos)

Phil Barnes did brilliantly in his Cooper S to finish third on this power circuit with Bob Inglis fourth in a Lotus Cortina.

After two meetings the pattern for the year seemed clear, Geoghegan’s pace, Hamilton in the Porsche finishing races and continually collecting points with the V8’s somewhat more brittle…

Moffat at Mallala in practice ahead of Kevin Farrisey’s Holden FJ (Dick Simpson)

Mallala, ex-RAAF Airfield 16 June…

Alan Moffat’s long-awaited TransAm Mustang was the star attraction, this car surely the most iconic ‘greatest’ touring car ever to race in Oz. Bias hereby declared!

Beechey was again a non-starter with yet another blown engine. The top four grid slots were Jane, Geoghegan, Moffat and Hamilton.

Moffat was the first to go out on lap 2 in what would become a race of attrition, followed by Jane at half distance. Hamilton followed Geoghegan home by a respectable 44 seconds for second with Peter Manton’s Cooper S third.

After a break of a month to prepare their mounts the teams took the long drive north to Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Melbourne’s Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina Mk2, Mallala 1969. Looks a picture in its Minilites (Dick Simpson)

Surfers Paradise on August 31…

Pete again took pole from Beechey and Hamilton who equalled the Monaro V8’s time- pretty amazing on this power circuit.

With Moffat and Jane non-starters, the race had looked like a foregone conclusion until Geoghegan was forced out with a puncture on lap eight, he had run over a piece of exhaust pipe left by one of his fellow competitors on circuit.

Pete returned two laps down but Beechey held on to take his first win of the season- and the first ever ATCC win for Holden with Hamilton second, collecting a bag more of points and Jim McKeown third.

A designers true intent is always shown with the first iteration of a car isn’t it? The ’68/9 HK Monaro a very cohesive design- and in GTS 327 spec a formidable tool in Series Production racing and here as an Improved Tourer. Here, Beechey’s car in the Surfers Paradise dummy grid/form up area. Car sold at the end of ’69 to WA, raced by Peter Briggs for a while and then, when some debts needed to be paid components ‘spread by the wind’. In the hands of a potential ‘restorer’ these days. Beechey focussed on his ’70 title winning, sensational HG GTS350 (unattributed)

The title now went down to the wire. Pete’s woes meant his championship lead was now only three points over the Porsche driver with Peter Manton moving into third in the title chase.

The competition rules provided each driver drop their worst score, the net effect of which was that Hamilton needed to win at Symmons Plains and Pete score no points for Hamilton to take the title.

These early 911’s are sex on wheels, Hamilton’s 911T/R as exotic as they came at the time. Still in Oz in the Bowden Family Collection. Clubhouse corner, Mallala 1969 (Dick Simpson)

Symmons Plains, 16 November…

Bob Jane had already withdrawn from the final round to attend overseas business commitments with team driver John Harvey driving his Mustang. Moffat was struggling yet again with engine trouble, the front row therefore comprised Geoghegan, Harvey, Moffat and Beechey with Hamilton back in fifth.

With just one minute to go before the flag, Geoghegan’s Mustang refused to start, leaving his crew little option but to bump start it after the race had begun and doom him to certain disqualification. All Hamilton had to do now was win!

Great arse! Moffats ‘stang has no bad angle. Symmons ’69 DNF typical of the unreliability of the car early on. It never did win the ATCC did it? Sadly. Car still in Oz, in the Bowden Collection of touring car racers (oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Harvey led Moffat until lap seven when the Mustang popped another Windsor 302. Beechey and Hamilton followed. Beechey extended his lead but the Holden started to suffer gearbox problems, he was having to avoid gearchanges, which meant he had to slip the clutch to keep the car mobile at lower speeds. By lap 15 Harvey was out with a puncture.

So near but so far! Beechey, his Holden trailing heaps of smoke from a failing gearbox, boots his Monaro away from Hamilton’s 911, last lap, last corner, last Symmons Plains round of the ATCC ’69 (oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Hamilton closed the gap getting to within a cars length of the Holden in the last corner of the race but Norm was able to boot the big V8, using all of its vast amount of torque, to accelerate away from the 2 litre 911 and win the race from Hamilton and McKeown.

Geoghegan had continued to race on, despite inevitable disqualification, breaking the lap record, making it onto the lead lap. With Hamilton failing to win, Pete won the ATCC title, his last, by one point…

Geoghegan flicking his Mustang thru Warwick Farm’s Northern Crossing in 1969. Pete always polls as Top 5 or 10 in any assessment of Australia’s Greatest Touring Car drivers (Dick Simpson)

‘You know, it’s funny’, chuckled Hamilton in a Unique Cars interview. ‘I’ve never really forgiven Norm (Beechey) for that one. Every time he comes around I like to give him a bit of curry about what happened in that race. You see, he was out of the (championship) running entirely at that point, and his car had all but expired.’

’In fact it actually did expire about 20 metres over the line. It finally just dropped dead! Still, I can’t complain. We did well to get where we did. Unlike the V8s, the Porsche proved to be very reliable. We had a colossal season in ’69, doing hillclimbs and medal races as well as the Touring Cars, but aside from routine servicing we didn’t actually have to do anything to keep it going’.

Etcetera: ATCC Cars of 1969…

Beechey, Hume Weir 1969 (unattributed)

 

One of the earliest appearances of Moffat’s Mustang in Australia, Oran Park, 17 May 1969 (Dick Simpson)

 

Phil Barnes, Cooper S at Mallala in 1969. He was 7th in the ’69 title with 5th at Calder and 3rd at Bathurst (Dick Simpson)

 

Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina, Hume Weir 1969 (oldracephotos)

 

Bob Jane and Mustang TransAm at Lakeside’s Karussell in July 1969 (G Ruckert)

 

Alan Hamilton, Porsche 911T/R during 1969 (oldracephotos)

 

Moffat at Peters Corner, to start the run up Sandown’s back straight. Moffat forever a BP man but displaying Ampol allegiance early in the Mustang’s career – May 4 1969 first race meeting? (autopics)

Bibliography…

‘History of the Australian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard and Ors

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, oldracephotos.com, Robert Davies, autopics.com.au, Graham Ruckert, Robert Thomas

Tailpiece: Pete Geoghegan, Mallala 1969- five time ATCC winner in 1964/6/7/8/9…

Geoghegan, Clubhouse Corner, Mallala 1969 (Dick Simpson)

Finito…

 

 

pete

(Dick Simpson)

Pete Geoghegan blasts his Ford ‘Super Falcon’ GTHO across the top of Mount Panorama with the millimetre precision and finesse for which he was famous, harnessing all 600 plus horses of his demanding 351 cid steed on this oh-so-demanding and unforgiving of road circuits…

The 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship was one of the greatest contests ever, the Bathurst round one of the best races in a series full of close events in its 60 year history…

The late, respected motoring journalist Mike Kable wrote ‘The third round at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama on Easter Monday won by 5 times former champion Ian Geoghegan by 6 tenths of a second from Allan Moffat was the finest touring car race I have seen in 25 years of watching Australian motor racing which started as a small boy when I lived just a few more paddocks away from the famous old mountain circuit’.

‘It was an absolute spellbinder, the sort of race you dream about with Geoghegan in his Falcon and Moffat in his Mustang fighting a slipstreaming and braking duel right around the spectacular track and tearing side by side down the 1 1/2 mile long Conrod Straight at more than 160mph and becoming airborne over the humps’.

The race ended in controversy as Pete’s ‘Super Falcon’ was losing oil from its catch-tank, Moffat copping so much Castrol on his windscreen he dropped back for a bit to try and clear it with his wipers. Towards the end of the race he undid his shoulder harness to see out the drivers window, during all this he took 7 seconds from from Geoghegan’s previous record set in his evergreen Mustang.

Moffat protested, after 90 minutes of deliberation the steward determined that the results stood on the basis that it could not be confirmed that the oil spill cost Moffat the race. Further, Maffats speed late in the race didn’t tend to support the Canadians argument!

In fact Moffat lost the championship after intense competition and ‘biffo’ at a number of meetings resulted in Bob Jane, his Melbourne arch rival, protesting being shoved aside by Moffat during the Warwick Farm round of the championship.

Sadly, the protest was heard on the virtual eve of the title decider at Oran Park, Moffat’s exclusion from the results at Warwick Farm gave the series win to Jane, the plucky, tough entrepreneur took the title again in the Chev Camaro in which he won in 1971. The car was powered by a cast iron 350cid engine in ’72 rather than the ZL-1 427cid ‘CanAm’ aluminium block Chev used in 1971.

031 Bob Jane

Bob Janes Chev Camaro ZL-1, 350cid cast iron powered in 1972, thru Hell Corner during the ATCC race, Easter 1972. BJ Racing’s cars always superbly prepared and presented. (Dick Simpson)

What made the Late Sixties/Early Seventies ATCC Championships magic and still spoken about in reverential terms by those who were there were cars such as Jane’s…

Moffat’s Mustang was a factory TransAm racer, he first ran it in 1969, despite many race wins, he never took the ATCC, he achieved that for the first time in a Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 3 ‘Group C’ car when the regs changed from 1973. In Mike Kables view at the time ‘There’s not much doubt about who is Australia’s finest all round tin-top driver. If he proved it once he proved it a dozen times in both his venerable TransAm Mustang and works Phase 3 Falcon GTHO’.

In 1972 Moffat tried both the 351cid V8 (at Calder he raced it and at Surfers used it in qualifying) and Boss 302 engines but the Cleveland 351 engine was never reliable and much heavier than the ‘small-block’ Boss which buggered the cars balance. It was with the 302 fitted that he gave Geoghegan so much curry at Bathurst, Pete’s factory built ‘Super Falcon’, Moffat was built one as well of course in 1970, 351 equipped and seldom reliable.

Norm Beechey was back for one final crack at the championship in the gorgeous Holden Monaro HG 350 V8 in which he won in 1970 and had been continually developed by Norm and Claude Morton in their Brunswick, Melbourne base.

norm

Norm Beechey, two wheels off the deck, Murrays Corner, Bathurst 1970. He won the title, and the Bathurst round that year in this fabulous, injected 350 Chev V8 engined Holden. (unattributed)

Later Birrana co-proprietor and single seater driver Malcolm Ramsay ran an ‘HQ’ Holden Kingswood powered by a Repco Holden F5000 engine, the big orange, ROH ‘Dragmag’ wheeled thing looked and sounded sensational.

kingswood

Malcolm Ramsay’s Holden Kingswood Repco V8, 1972, not sure which paddock this is. 1971/3 HQ Holden Kingswood a great contemporary bit of sedan styling, i saw this car at its race debut at the ’72 Sandown Tasman meeting. Look, sound and speed impressive! (Perry Drury/The Roaring Season)

The ‘Kingsy’ bristled with the clever engineering ideas of Ramsay and Tony Alcock, the Birrana designer; fabricated front wishbone suspension, carefully evolved rear suspension with better location of the standard live axle/coil spring setup, removable front guards to ease access to the injected Repco lump and much more. It deserved another season of development but unlike many of the cars pictured in this article which became Sports Sedans after the Australian Touring Car Championship rules changed from 1973, the Kingswood was dismantled and components sold as the Birrana boys focusssed on their ‘main game’, which was building ANF2 and F3 winning cars, a story for another time.

Big Pete’s Super Falcon was fully rebuilt by Bowin’s John Joyce after the Adelaide International round of the championship, the openwheeler specialist rebuilding it around a new shell, both lightening it and giving it the rigidity lacking in the original. The front and rear suspension geometry was modified. Note that some reports say the car was re-shelled, but the Bowin drawings don’t suggest this. In addition Geoghegan claimed 608bhp for the engine by seasons end. For those interested in the work Joyce and his team performed, click on this link;

http://www.bowincars.org/mediawiki-1.6.12/index.php?title=Car_Drawings#Bowin_P7

Apart from the front runners there were other cars to salivate over; Mike Stillwell’s Ford Escort BDA was a jewel of a thing, at one stage class wins made it a possibility that he would win the title. Clive Green’s ex-Geoghegan Mustang was great to look at and well driven by the Balwyn, Melbourne car dealer when he appeared.

stillwell

Mike Stillwell, son of former multiple Australian Gold Star Champion Bib Stillwell at Bathurst in his Ford Escort BDA. (Dick Simpson)

Towards the end of the season Bob Jane’s John Sheppard built Holden Monaro HQ Chev 350 V8 appeared, John Harvey drove it in the final ATCC round at Oran Park, like all of Sheppo’s cars it looked too good to race and had the performance to match.

Harvey was second on the grid and ran in 2nd until brake dramas slowed him. This car had a very long, successful life as a Sports Sedan after it’s short one as an ‘Improved Tourer’ ATCC contender.

harvey

John Harvey makes the series debut for Bob Jane’s Holden Monaro HQ 350 Chev, here ahead of the always scrapping Jane and Moffat. Oran Park ATCC round 1972. (autopics)

 

grid

Front 2 rows of the grid before this great Bathurst ’72 ATCC race; Moffat on pole, Mustang TransAm from Geoghegan, Ford Falcon GTHO, then Jane’s partially obscured Camaro and Norm Beechey’s yellow Holden Monaro HG350. (Bob Jane Racing Heritage)

But back to That Race at Bathurst…

From pole, Moffat, 3 seconds faster than Pete in practice, was slow away, Bob Jane was first to the top of the mountain from the second row, he held the lead until passed by Moffat on the first run down Conrod, losing a further place to Pete as the cars went up Mountain Straight the second time.

Pete from Bob- off row 2, then Moffat and Beechey towards Hell Corner for the first time (oldracephotos)

 

ray

First lap drop into The Dipper, Ray Bell’s shot captures both the cars and excitement of the crowd atop the mountain. Jane from Moffat and Geoghegan. (Ray Bell)

 

lap 1

From the rear down thru The Dipper for the first time its Jane from Moffat and Geoghegan but Moffat blasts the 302 Boss Mustang past Janes 350 Chev on Conrod, piston failure for Bob not far away. (lyntonh)

The crowd roared as Sydney’s ‘Goody Pete’ chased Melbourne ‘Baddy Moffat’, the Falcon passed the TransAm on lap 4, the torque of the 351 carrying the Falcon past the Mustang up the mountain, only to lose the lead on Conrod.

pete and al

Geoghegan ahead of Moffat…(lyntonh)

And ‘So it went on for lap after lap, the two cars passing and re passing each other, circulating at record speeds and literally running nose to tail in their gladiatorial battle. The last lap was almost unbearably exciting and Geoghegan scrambled across the finish line a bare cars length ahead of Moffat after a frantic side by side dash along the whole of Conrod Straight’.

Dick Simpson, the photographer of most of this articles shots recalls the closing laps ‘I was standing on the corner post of what was the Australian Racing Drivers Club (Bathurst promoting club) members/competitors camping area, these days its the middle of pit exit lane’.

‘Pete suckered him through the race by braking earlier and earlier at the end of Conrod Straight as the race went on as if the big Falcon had brake problems. I think ‘Marvin’ was happy that he could get him whenever he wanted, but on the last lap Pete stayed over on the right (on the outside of the track) leaving the gap for the dive under brakes but he didn’t brake! I think he went way deeper than even Moffatt had been going. I don’t know if he was saving the brakes for the last lap or just setting Moff up’.

‘I do know that when he went past me he had a massive grin and tapped the side of his head!’

pete

Geoghegan in the view of some Australia’s greatest ever Touring Car driver. (Dick Simpson)

John Goss and Fred Gibson were 3rd and 4th in their Series Production (less modified) Falcon GTHO Phase 3’s after a race long duel from Doug Chivas Series Prod Valiant Charger RT and Stillwell’s 2 litre Escort.

gibson

Ford factory driver Fred Gibson was 4th in his own, as against his factory, GTHO Phase 3 Series Production car, just ahead of John Goss’ similar car. (Dick Simpson)

Jane was forced out with piston failure and Beechey with a shagged gearbox, always a weak link in these big, powerful cars.

1972, a season to remember, and wow, to have been there at Easter Bathurst to see ‘Marvin The Marvel’ and ‘Big Pete’ woulda been really something!…

moffat 2

Alan Moffats ‘Super Falcon’ Ford Falcon XW GTHO Phase 2. Calder 1970. (Bob Jane Collection)

The Ford Australia 1970/1 GTHO ‘Super Falcons’…

Ford were pretty much on top of the global motorsport world in the late sixties; their Cosworth DFV 3 litre V8 was at the start of building its reputation as the most successful GP engine ever, they won Le Mans with the venerable Mk1 GT40 in 1968 and 1969 (in fact from ’66 to ’69 in Mk1, 2B and Mk4 GT40’s), their DOHC Indy Ford V8 was still winning its share.

The Escort was at the start of a run which made it one of Rallying’s greatest, in TransAm the Mustang was a winner and in Australia local ‘Pony Cars’ powered by a succession of V8’s progessively increasing in capacity were winning many of the very popular ‘Series Production’ events for essentially ‘Showroom Stock’ cars.

‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ was the adage, the advertising tagline of the day was ‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’!

So, wins at Bathurst and in the Australian Touring Car Championship were important in the local sales race. All Big Three subsidiaries of the American automotive transnationals (Ford, GM-Holden, Chrysler-Valiant) were manufacturing cars locally and up to their armpits in racing whatever company policy said!

Whilst Ford had a winning presence in the local Touring Car Championship, the Mustangs of Moffat, Geoghegan and others were not cars sold locally and therefore the promotional value of said wins was limited.

Norm Beecehey ran competitively with 2 Holden Monaro’s winning the title in his fabulous yellow HG Monaro 350 in 1970. Holden were getting a benefit Ford wanted, that is winning in cars the public could buy road variants of. All they needed to do was build the right car.

Popular American ‘Big Al’ Turner was El Presidente of Ford Australia at the time and a racing enthusiast. He decided to build 2 ‘Super Falcons’, modified versions of the then current 1969/70 Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 2, a four door sedan powered by a ‘Windsor/Cleveland’ 351 cid or 5.7 litre, 4 barrel Holley carbed engine.

These Falcon GTHO’s were successful ‘Series Production’ racers already taking outright Bathurst 500 wins in Moffat’s hands in 1970 and 1971.

donk

Injected Ford ‘Cleveland’ 5.7 litre/351 cid, OHV, fuel injected, circa 600bhp V8 in one of the factory ‘Super Falcons’. (Ian Smith)

The cars were built at Fords race workshop, Lot 6 Mahoneys Road not far from the Ford factory at Broadmeadows, an outer Northern Melbourne suburb.

Howard Marsden managed the team, the cars built by John Whynne, the engines by Ian Stockings and Bill Santuccione. Cars were built for Geoghegan and Moffat, the shells were extensively lightened, although the regulations did require the cars to be ‘fully trimmed’. The engines were highly modified including fitment of fuel injection.

falcon 2

Moffats ‘Super Falcon’ at Calder, March 1971 ATCC round. Flared guards to cover the big ‘Minilites’, additional lip below the standard GTHO’s spoiler all clear. White car behind is Geoghegan’s Ford Mustang. (Perry Drury Collection/The Roaring Season)

Moffat raced his Falcon at the final 1970 ATCC round at Symmons Plains, Tasmania, the car took pole before the engine blew. The cars reappeared in 1971 trimmed as ‘XY’ models but the problems continued.

Steve Holmes summarised the 1970/71 racing of the two Super Falcons in a ‘The Roaring Season’ article he wrote’…the Moffat Super Falcon started out as an XW and made its one and only appearance in XW guise at the final round of the 1970 Australian Touring Car Championship,(at Symmons Plains, Tasmania) where Moffat drove it briefly in practice before the motor expired. It was, however, very fast in a straight line!’

‘For 1971, neither Super Falcon appeared at the opening round, as development continued, but Moffat’s made an appearance at Calder Park, Victoria Round 2. Once again, this car suffered engine dramas in practice and Moffat opted to qualify and race his Mustang- Kevin Bartlett practiced the Mustang and was set to race it had Moff run the Falcon. Both Super Falcons were at Sandown, Victoria for Round 3, where both drivers also brought along their Mustangs. In the end, they both chose to race their Mustangs, after putting in faster times in practice’.

This shot and the one below are of Kevin Bartlett practising Moffat’s Trans-Am at Calder whilst Allan focused on the Falcon. It would have been very interesting to see KB race this car- I wonder what his impressions were? (D Simpson)

 

(D Simpson)

‘Again, at Surfers Paradise, both drivers raced their Mustangs. Indeed, Geoghegan didn’t even bother hauling the Falcon up to Queensland. Moffat was again faster in his Mustang. His Super Falcon, however, did race, in the hands of local John French, who fought race-long with Geoghegan’s Mustang for 3rd, before eventually settling for 4th place. Moffat tested his Super Falcon at Mallala, but instead raced the Mustang, while again Geoghegan only brought his Mustang. At Lakeside, Queensland both Super Falcons appeared, but again, both drivers decided to race their Mustangs, which were faster. Once again, John French was drafted in, this time to race the Geoghegan Falcon, and finished 5th.

‘Neither Super Falcon went to the final race at Oran Park, NSW as both Moffat and Geoghegan were in the hunt to win the championship in their Mustangs.’

moffat

Moffat in his ‘Super Falcon’, ATCC Calder round 21 March 1971. Aussie fans will pick the ‘XY’ trim lights and striping as against the ‘XW’ trim spec the car was built with. Mechanically identical of course. Moffat practiced the Falcon but raced his Mustang which DNF. Beechey’s Monaro won the round. (Robert Davies)

In 1971 Pete’s Mustang was already past its useby date, his talents kept it in front longer than it deserved so he stuck with the Falcon as a Mustang replacement whereas Moffat, a professional racing driver, (Pete had a share in the families Sydney car dealership as well as his racing income) stuck with his ’69 Boss TransAm which was still very competitive, its long life extended into 1975.

What both cars needed was a concentrated period of development by the factory with the full support of the drivers. Moffat’s Mustang was his, he raced to win, to live, he could win more money with the Mustang so his decision was an easy one. Ford provided some support for the Mustang, but his paid Ford drive was for the Series Production events in the HO’s. It kinda makes you wonder why Ford didn’t get someone like Fred Gibson to do development work on the Super Falcons, he was well equipped for the role, a factory driver and didn’t have the distraction of the ATCC campaign which was critical to both Moffat and Geoghegan.

The Falcons were never were going to succeed with the drivers juggling two cars, Super Falcons and Mustangs as both Allan and Pete did at several meetings.

Moffat’s Falcon was eventually scrapped, although the 351 engine he flirted with in the Mustang was the injected engine from the car. Unwanted bits went to Pete for his car, the body of Moffat’s was believed dumped.

Geoghegan’s car has been superbly restored and is part of the Bowden family collection. Click here for a link to a tremendous article on the Geoghegan car’s race history and its restoration by them;

http://www.bowdensown.com.au/collection/ian-pete-geoghegans-super-falcon

super falcon

Ford factory promotional shot of the Moffat ‘Super Falcon’ 1970. (FoMoCo)

Articles on Competing Cars…

Moffat’s Mustang Boss TransAm;

http://www.bowdensown.com.au/collection/allan-moffats-1969-ta-mustang

Beecheys Holden Monaro GTS 350;

http://www.bowdensown.com.au/collection/norm-beecheys-ht-gts-monaro

Jane’s Chev Camaro ZL-1;

http://www.tradeuniquecars.com.au/feature-cars/1109/bob-jane-camaro-zl-1-review/

Etcetera: Moffat and Geoghegan…

moff and geoghegan

Moffat ahead of Geoghegan at Bay Park, NZ , December 1972. (Terry Marshall/The Roaring Season)

 

moff lakeside

Moffat and Geoghegan, again in 1972, this time at Lakeside, Queensland. ‘Hungry’ corner. (unattributed)

Tailpiece: The Pete Geoghegan the Fans Knew and Loved…

pete

Pete at Bay Park, NZ December 1972. (Terry Marshall/The Roaring Season)

Bibliography…

Australian Motor Racing Annual 1973, article by Mike Kable on the 1972 ATCC, article by Steve Holmes in ‘The Roaring Season’ http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?1828-Photos-The-Perry-Drury-Collection, ‘Fast Thats Past’ TNF article by Ray Bell on the Ramsay Holden Kingswood Repco

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, autopics.com, Bob Jane Racing Heritage, lyntonh, Ian Smith, Ray Bell, Perry Drury Collection/Terry Marshall The Roaring Season, Robert Davies, FoMoCo

Finito…

mustangs catalina park

Photographer John Ellacott; ‘The three Mustangs of Pete Geoghegan, Norm Beechey and Bob Jane racing against each other for the first time, Catalina Park, Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains on 7 November 1965’…

And so commenced a wonderful period of Touring Car Racing in Australia. Between them these blokes won the Australian Touring Car Championship on 11 occasions; Bob Jane 1962/3 Jaguar Mk2, 1971/2 Chev Camaro ZL-1. Pete Geoghegan 1964 in a Ford Cortina GT, 1966-9 Ford Mustang and Norm Beechey, 1965 in a Ford Mustang and 1970 in a Holden Monaro GTS350.

For those with an interest in these Mustangs’ click on this link to read a detailed article by Australian historian/writer/commentator Mark Oastler, the login process is simple.

http://www.shannons.com.au/club/news/beechey-geoghegan-jane-the-racing-mustangs-of-1965/

Photo Credit…John Ellacott, The Nostalgia Forum