Posts Tagged ‘Pete Geoghegan’

 

Robin Pare, Pete Geoghegan in Ford Mustangs, Bruno Carosi Jag Mk2, Frank Gardner Alfa GTA and Robin Bessant Lotus Cortina on the downhill plunge towards The Viaduct, Longford Improved Production Touring Car race 1967 (oldracephotos.com)

Pete Geoghegan did so many times too! The Sydneysider is here doing his stuff aboard the first of his two Ford Mustangs at Longford during the Tasman round in February 1967…

The Brothers Geoghegan, Leo and Ian or ‘Pete’ were stars of Australian Motor Racing from the late-fifties into the mid-seventies, Leo in single-seaters and Pete in ‘taxis’, touring cars of all pursuations. When he was a youth Pete was quick in a brief career in single seaters and a Lotus 23 Ford but he became a ‘big unit’ so his girth meant he was best suited to cars with a roof.

Geoghegan , Gardner and Carosi off the front row, no sign of Pare- perhaps not the same race grid as above ? (oldracephotos.com)

A supreme natural, Geoghegan made a car sing with flair and feel blessed to some from above. Every car he drove. His band-width extended from GT’s to Sports Cars, Production Tourers and very highly modified Sports Sedans- sedans of considerable power and performance.

His CV included some of the most iconic cars raced in Australia over the decades above including a Lotus 7 , 22, 23, the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM, Holden ‘Humpy’, Jaguar 3.4, Morris 850, the two Mustangs, Cortinas- both GT and Lotus variants, Falcon GT’s, Falcon GTHO’s, Valiant Charger E49, highly modified Porsche 911’s, his iconic, Ford factory built and later Bowin Cars modified Ford Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’ and the superb John Sheppard built Holden Monaro GTS350 Sports Sedan.

That car was as conceptually clever, beautifully built and presented sedan racer as any ever constructed in Oz. Lets not forget his late career drives in Laurie O’Neill’s Porsche 935, a notoriously tricky device to master. Much earlier on he drove O’Neills Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, every bit as exotic as the 935.

Big Pete finesses the Mustang into The Viaduct (oldracephotos.com)

Geoghegan, five times Australian Touring Car Champion 1965-69 was an immensely popular racer with the fans, his bulk, manner and ‘stutter’ part of his appeal. He was not without his issues mind you. Touring Car racing is a religion in Australia, our sedan racing has been the equal of the best in the world for decades and arguably for the last 20 years our V8 Supercar category has been consistently one of the Top 5 sedan racing contests on the planet.

A touch of the opposites on the exit to Newry (oldracephotos.com)

So, the pantheon of talented touring car aces is large, and membership of the Top 10 a subject of much informed pub chatter, tough. Most knowledgeable touring car observers would have Geoghegan in their Top 10, if not Top 5, along with the likes of Norm Beechey, Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson, Jim Richards (a Kiwi but we take him as our own) Mark Skaife, Glenn Seton, Craig Lowndes, Garth Tander, Jamie Whincup and others.

(oldracephotos.com)

Photo Credits…

Oldracephotos.com- Harrison and David Keep

Tailpiece: Came, Saw, Conquered and then returned to Sydney…

Other Reading…

Pete Geoghegan and his Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’

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

Pete’s 1965 Mustang notchback

http://www.bowdensown.com.au/collection/ian-pete-geoghegans-1965-mustang

Finito…

Geoghegans were the Australian importers and distributors of Lotus cars from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies when Jim Smith’s Peter Manton Motors in Melbourne stepped up to the plate

The brothers Geoghegan are no doubt well known to most primotipo readers by now, even you international mob. Between them they had ‘Taxis’ or Touring Cars and Open-Wheeler racing covered in Australia. Ian or ‘Pete’ Geoghegan was a multiple national champion aboard cars with a roof and Leo was similarly a champion on many occasions in the more rarefied and refined single-seater world, not always in Lotuses mind you.

Whilst the Lotus Racing halo internationally was huge in the mid-sixties for all of the obvious reasons the Geoghegan connection must have polished the Lotus brand considerably in this part of the world too. Who wouldn’t want to buy a car from them and then have it serviced there? Why, if you were lucky during February, you might even time your trip to have the Webers of your Elan tickled with the visit of Team Lotus who based themselves in the Paramatta Road, Haberfield dealership for the Warwick Farm Tasman weekend.

(Dalton)

The Lotus franchise in Australia is a bit of a ‘hot spud’ really- no one has distributed the things for a long time.

Not even those who were multi-franchise dealers and therefore had the earnings of other marques with greater volumes to support the lower financial contributions of what has always been a very niche brand in Australia, the brothers Geoghegan probably the longest of the dealers.

Some well known motor racing names have been involved in flogging the wonderful but idiosynchratic cars down the decades.

Alec Strachan was the original importer, he was based at Waitara, Sydney and negotiated the rights with Chapman off the back of purchase of a Lotus 6-the first of Chapman’s machines in Australia. Then Derek Jolly with his impeccable racing and engineering connections to Chapman himself took over, but that was never going to really work, Adelaide is a long way from the main East Coast markets especially back then. Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart had tiny population for such a niche product.

Performance Automobiles sold a few in Hobart, John Roxburgh in Melbourne and Dick Thurston at Pitstop Motors on the Nepean Highway, Brighton way, moved a few when I was a teenager. At the same time Lance Dixon sold plenty of used ones, many times I rode by bike from North Balwyn to Doncaster to dream about a red Europa or Elan. The Zagame Group in Melbourne have the rights these days.

Whad’ll she do mister? Leo Geoghegan’s ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco sitting forlornly on the 253 Parramatta Road lot in 1970. Leo raced the car finally, having acquired it from Team Lotus after the 1966 Tasman Series, in the 1970 Tasman, then it was put to one side to sell whilst Leo raced to Gold Star victory in a new Lotus 59 powered by a Waggott 2 litre DOHC, 4 valve injected engine (Fistonic)

These photos by Milan Fistonic capture the late-sixties flavour of the Geoghegan’s dealership in Sydney’s Parramatta Road, ‘Auto Alley’.

The shots are very much dated as being late 1970 the year in which Leo stopped racing his evergreen ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco V8. There it is, the 1969 JAF Japanese Grand Prix winner sitting on the used car lot just waiting for a punter with the necessary readies. Click here to read my article about this wonderful car; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

It was not an easy car to move at the time with F5000 in the process of becoming the new ANF1, to replace the 2.5 litre Tasman Formula. The nutbags at CAMS made F5000 cars eligible to contest the 1970 Tasman Series but not the domestic 1970 Gold Star- that title was won by Leo G in the Lotus 39’s replacement, a brand new Lotus 59B to which he bolted a superb circa 275bhp 2 litre Waggott engine built not too far from the dealership. The 39 fell into the very best of hands, John Dawson-Damer, who did a brilliant job restoring it to its original, ex-works 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine form. It’s still in Australia, happily!

It seems fitting to provide some period written flavour to accompany the photos. To do so I have reproduced the wonderful recollections of ‘DanTra2858’ he contributed to ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, Daniel worked for the brothers Geoghegan right at that time, the late sixties. I’ve positioned his thoughts around several different headings to preserve some semblance of flow.

(Dalton)

On assembling Lotuses in Australia.

The cars arrived by ship from Hethel ‘CKD’ or in Completely Knocked Down form… ‘…1969, also working there at the time was Barry Lake (racer and very well known racing journalist) and Wally Willmott (for many years Bruce McLaren’s right hand in the nascent years of BM Motor Racing in the UK) Service Manager was Bob Everitt.

With a little help to remove a Europa from its crate and the motor/gearbox and diff assemby, it took me about 10 hours to assemble a car ready for registration.

There were some long days assembling the cars mainly due to the clutch plates attaching themself to the flywheel. Of course this did not show up until the installation of the motor/gearbox into the car on initial start up, sometimes it could be rectified by starting the car in gear but not always. Then out with the motor/gearbox as that was easier then split, fix the problem then put it all back together again, good days!

When Lotus cars were imported…they came in a open frame wooden crate with the car wrapped in plastic sheeting, that was the full extent of protection (during the long voyage from England) The motor/gearbox assembly was in a wooden box complete with the suspension, tailshaft , diff and wheels. Each crate/box had identification numbers on them to match the motor to body, so the first thing to do was match up the components to assemble a car.

When this was done the body crate was opened, plastic wrapping removed and using 2 trolley jacks the body was moved into the workshop and placed on modified jack stands. Then the motor box was opened and all suspension parts/wheels were removed and taken into the workshop ready for assembly, by this this time it was time to stop work for morning tea!

Now refreshed it was time to fit the suspension and wheels so the car was now a roller which made it easier to work on. When assembling the rear suspension the diff, drive shafts, Hillman Imp rubber doughnuts etc were all fitted. Now for lunch.

So with a full belly it was time to bring in the motor/gearbox, tailshaft and fit them into the car, along with the exhaust system. When this assembly was bolted in, cooling hoses, electrics and other parts were fitted. Then it was time to present to this ‘new arrival’ its first full meal of lubricants including brake fluid, so we then bleed the brakes. By this time it was about 4 in the afternoon so a cuppa was in order, then back to work.

Now that the car was fully assembled the work really started. Re-check that all previously assembled parts were correctly assembled and all bolts/nuts were tight, oil levels were correct and that there were no leaks in the brake hydraulic system and fluid was at correct levels. Next I checked that the clutch operated correctly and if not then one of two steps were taken to rectify the adhesion of the clutch plate to the flywheel/pressure plate. If there was no trouble with the clutch it was time to connect the battery and start the motor, let it warm up, check for fluid leaks and bleed the heater system in the cabin of the car by slackening the bleed screw on top of the heater core remembering to tighten it after all the air was bled off. If there was clutch trouble the first thing we did was to start the car while in gear, this usually caused the clutch plate to release then operate correctly. If not then it was out with the motor/gearbox assy to fix the problem then pop it back into the car- this would add 3 hours to the assembly time.

If all went well it was now about 6 pm but still the to-do list list included wheel alignment, checking that all lights operated correctly and that all of the electrics worked. Then tyre pressures were set with a final check for leaking fluids. By this time it was about 8pm and another 12 hour day was complete leaving the road test for first thing the next day- that also included cleaning up wood crates and plastic wrapping. Then onto normal service work with another assembly starting the next day. Well folks that is how it was done at Geoghegans I may have missed a few steps somewhere along the way, it is a long time from 1969…you have the picture’.

Plenty of lonely S2 Europa’s in 1970 (Fistonic)

On The Hot Sellers of the Lotus range…

‘The sales section always required stock on the floor that covered the Lotus range excluding Super 7’s. (Not sure why they were not imported to Australia, Chapman didn’t do the deal with Graham Nearn at Caterham cars to take over the rights to build 7’s until 1971 from memory, so Lotus Components were certainly still building them in the late sixties)

The slowest moving car was the Elan Plus 2 so every time one was sold we would assemble another but that did not happen often, the most popular was the Elan Coupe followed by the Europa, we would assemble 2 or 3 a week depending on sales of the model.

I found the Europa quicker to assemble than the Elan. My first experience driving a Europa along Paramatta Road (a main artery into and out of Sydney, in the days before freeways it was the ’normal’ way to go between Melbourne and Sydney so there was plenty of local and interstate traffic inclusive of large semi-trailers) was just straight out frightening especially when a double decker bus pulled up alongside me while waiting for the traffic lights to change to green. Sitting in the Europa I found myself looking up at the centre of its wheels with the bus towering over me, a feeling of vulnerability quickly came over me.’

Tried and true technique of naked ladies to get us blokes to scan the pages of a brochure in a thorough manner. Lotus Elite brochure , must be US issue, way too racy for 1960 Australia (Dalton)

On Painful Customers…

‘Pete Geoghegan did not come down to the service section much at all…on one of those times he was showing off on a motor bike, doing wheel stands in the lube bay then the 6 foot dash from the lube bay through our parts area into the Lotus workshop then back again with the biggest smile I have ever seen on a guy that has just achieved what no-one else has done.

One Elan FHC I do remember very well. Its owner arrived at our service area unannounced while we were having morning tea wanting something fixed right away, I told him that I would look at it as soon as I finished my coffee but that was the wrong answer for this guy.

He then spoke to Bob Everett, the Service Manager and was told by him that I would look after his car as soon as I had finished my coffee, this slowed him down a bit but he kept on looking to his watch. So I finished my coffee quickly…went into the service bay held out my hand and introduced myself, without a blink he shook my hand introduced himself told me what the problem was, I fixed it in 10 minutes and he was on his way, oh his name…Warwick Brown, I serviced his Elan from then on…’(In 1969 20 year old WB would have just been starting his racing career in a little Brabham owned by Pat Burke- who was still his patron when he won the Tasman Championship in 1975 aboard a Lola T332 Chev F5000)

Photographer Milan Fistonic with an eye for Plus 2 Elans (Fistonic)

Lotus equals ‘Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious’…

‘Whilst at Geoghegans I only worked on one Elite, was very impressed by the construction of the car as a full mono-fibreglass enclosure setup…it was on sale in the yard so it would have been a quick mechanical check up prior to the car going on sale. The main thing that had to be done, as with all fibreglass Lotus’ was to make sure that the electrical earth set up was not corrupted by corrosion on the body to chassis alloy mounting bobbins in the body. That was number one check on all Lotuses even new ones. The alloy bobbins on the Elite are for suspension mounting, but there again steel bolts into alloy bobbins, which means corrosion of the bobbin which have been known to become loose in their fibreglass enclosure- meaning fibreglass repairs.

Lotus Elans were bad for water leaks at the top of the A-pillar and in the boot. We tried re-gluing the door sealing at the top of the A-pillar but all to no avail as the inside plastic section of the seal kept on pulling it down leaving a small opening at the top where the seal assembly transferred to the horizontal. The final Geoghegan factory fix was to push the seal assembly up as hard as you could into the top of the A-pillar while your offsider drilled a one eighth inch hole through the vinyl inside section of the seal and into the fiberglass body, then insert a pop rivet and pull it home and there was a permanent fix with nothing but happy customers. By the way we didn’t leave the pop rivet just plain silver so it would show, we concealed it by painting it with a black texta.

For me the hardest thing while working at Geoghegans was learning how to spell their name, Smith or Brown would have been much easier!’…

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic

Bibliography…

DanTran2858, The Nostalgia Forum, Stephen Dalton Collection

 

 

 

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.

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. 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’.

‘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 were critical to both Moffat and Geoghegan.

The Falcons were never were going to succeed with the drivers juggling two cars; their Super Falcon and Mustang 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 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

 

1962 Longford touring cars

Start of the 1962 Championship race held during the Longford Tasman Series meeting, an all Jaguar  front row. Bob Jane Mk 2, Bill Pitt and Bill Burns in Mk 1’s from left to right…

The race was close fought with Jane winning from Pitt and Burns. Jaguar dominated the early years of the ATCC, winning the championship in its first four years. In those far away days the event was decided in one race!, a huge difference to the contemporary ‘V8 Supercars’ title which is decided over fourteen rounds, using three different race formats in Australia and New Zealand.

longford

Fantastic and unusual shot of Bob Jane in the winning Jag Mk2 entering ‘The Viaduct’ at Longford. Hay bales and the ‘stout’ (its still there) brick structure encouraging purity of line and application of power on entry! (Geoff Smedley)

jane

Bob Jane Mk2 ahead of Pete Geoghegan Mk1, 3.8 and 3.4 respectively in the Monday, Longford touring car race, Mountford Corner. Jane won, Pete DNF after leaving the road near The Viaduct. (Keverell Thomson Collection)

The inaugural championship was held at Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW, with victory going to David McKay’s Mk1, Bill Pitt prevailed at Lowood, Qld in 1961, similarly mounted and Bob Jane at Longford and Mallala, SA Mk2 in 1962/3.

1969 was the first year the title was decided over multiple rounds in five states, ‘Pete’ Geoghegan winning in his famous, second Ford Mustang.

Touring cars are not my thing, but these shots well and truly capture the ‘fun of the fair’ and a sense of Longford which is spoken about in reverential terms, if also in awe of its danger and technical difficulty by those lucky enough to have been or raced there.

As a postcript, Bill Burns very luckily survived a high speed multiple rollover in those pre-seat belt and rollbar days, two years later, 1964 at the end of the ‘Flying Mile’ just before Mountford Corner.

Burns Jag Longford 1964

Longford map

Photo Credits…

Unattributed shots via Ellis French, Geoff Smedley, Keverell Thomson Collection

pete

‘Pete’ Geoghegan in the SV Ferrari 250LM, Hell Corner, Easter Bathurst ‘Gold Star’ meeting April 1968, crowd listening to the howl of that V12 on the downchanges. (Dick Simpson)

Pete’ Geoghegan  hard on the brakes of the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari , before he leans it into Hell Corner, the left hander out of Pit Straight and onto Mountain Straight…

David McKay signed the brothers Geoghegan, Leo and Pete to share the car in the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour race later in ’68 , Australian spectators treated to the spectacle of the multiple Australian Touring Car Champion extracting all the ‘Red Lady’ had to offer in a series of sprint events earlier in the year to familiarise himself with the car. Over the years some fine drivers raced it, but McKay rated Geoghegan over most.

Pete

Pete Geoghegan 3 wheeling ‘6321’ into ‘The Dipper’ , Bathurst Easter ’68. Up ahead was teammate Bill Brown in the SV Ferrari P4/350 Can Am (Bob Jane Legends)

McKay’s ‘Scuderia Veloce’ was arguably the first of Australia’s professional racing teams, initially McKay was the driver but later SV’s entered cars for others including Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and nurtured the careers of local drivers including Spencer Martin, Larry Perkins and John Smith.

McKay was a remarkable man. He was a World War 2 veteran , a world class driver, the most influential motoring journalist of his day and a successful businessman with both SV the racing team, and Scuderia Veloce Motors, retailers of  Volvo, Porsche and Ferrari, for whom he was the NSW concessionaire.

martin

‘Australian Autosportsman’ magazine July 1965. Shell ‘Advertorial’! Spencer Martin on the cover in the SV Fazz 250LM, picture taken at the Easter meeting, i think, ‘Hell Corner’, which leads onto the uphill ‘Mountain Straight’ having gone past the pits. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

In some ways purchase of the 250LM didn’t make a lot of sense as the car was a heavy endurance machine, locally it was competing with lightweight sports-racers built for sprint events, it was competitive in 1965 , but into 1966 the appearance of Frank Matich’s Traco Olds/Elfin 400 and other similar cars made the going tough. By then the car had been sold to Kiwi Andy Buchanan but was prepared and entered by SV.

Its forte was long distance events, for which it was designed!, McKay and Spencer Martin, the young star McKay was nurturing, won the Caversham 6 Hour race in Western Australia in 1965. The Swan Valley event did not have great depth of field in the outright class ,’6321′ winning by 12 laps from Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra.

Here is a link to an article about Spencer Martin and David McKay which also includes additional pictures of the 250LM and Martin’s driving impressions of the racer; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

caversham

David McKay & Spencer Martin won the Caversham 6 Hour race in ’65, opening the 250LM’s long distance success ‘account’ (Terry Walker)

martin

Evocative Longford shot of Spencer Martin, Long Bridge, 1966 (Alan Stewart Collection)

Keith Williams was a great promoter of his new circuit at Nerang outside Surfers Paradise, the LM winning his 12 Hour Enduro  3 years on the trot; in ’66 driven by Buchanan and Jackie Stewart, ’67 by Australians Greg Cusack and Bill Brown, and in ’68 by the Geoghegans’, all of the victories against cars which were faster on paper but not ultimately having the LM’s combination of speed and reliability.

In 1968 McKay had pleasure and pain; victory for the LM but defeat of his Ferrari P4/350Can Am car, acquired earlier in the year with the express aim of victory in a race he thought was by then beyond the old LM. For those interested in the P4, click on this link to an article on the full history of this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

surfers

Scuderia Veloce’s team in the Surfers dummy grid, 12 Hour ’68. The winning Geoghegan Bros 250LM at left, 275GTB of Phil West/George Reynolds centre, and P4/Can Am 350 ‘0858’ of Bill Brown/Jim Palmer on the right (DNF accident) (Photo Rod MacKenzie)

lm

The Roxburgh/Whiteford Datsun 1600 being rounded up by the LM, and Hamilton/Glynn Scott Porsche 906 Spyder , Surfers 12 Hour 1967 (Ray Bell)

By ’68 the car was owned by Sydney businessman Ashley Bence but Mckay soon repurchased it and kept it as a much cherished road car. I missed its racing heyday but saw McKay drive it at the Sandown meeting in late 1978 at which Fangio demonstrated/raced his Mercedes Benz W196. Unfortunately an oil line came adrift causing McKay to spin and hit the fence at The Causeway. Graham Watson, later ‘Ralt Australia’ and a ‘Gold Star’ national champion himself repaired the car.

bridge

McKay in ‘6321’ tootling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the late ’70’s. This shot was part of a ‘Sports Car World’ magazine article McKay wrote about the car, the trials and tribulations of delivery amusing…

A share in the car was sold by McKay to Spencer Martin, its original driver in ’65, the car contested some international historic events before ultimately being sold to Ralph Lauren…its life now a good deal easier than being taken to its limits by the likes of Pete Geoghegan.

ad

Racing and Development of the LM In Period: Letter from Ferrari’s Mike Parkes to David McKay dated 1 February 1966 about ongoing development of the cars in Europe…

‘…Passing now to your LM you will no doubt be pleased to learn that the car has been homologated in the 50 car GT category, as has the 4.7 litre Ford GT, although infact neither they nor us have made 50 cars.

We are still making one or two LM`s, David Piper has probably given you all his ‘gen’ on modifications. He has gone up to 7″ front rims, also I think 8″ rears, and has increased the top speed considerably by lengthening the nose and making it similar to the 1962 GTO.

He has had quite a number of gear-box failures, some of which I suspect may have been due to Fax, his mechanic, but it is clear that the crown wheel and pinion should be changed after between 18-24 hours use, depending on the ratio employed, and the same applies to the pinion bearings.

I incidentally cannot recommend in the interest of liability, attempting to fit other than ex factory spares. My research incidentally, reveals that Fiat 500 bearing shells should not fit.

We have introduced a somewhat complicated modification to improve the gearbox life which includes machining out the bearing housings in the casing to take bigger bearings. I can probably send particulars if you decide that it is worth while.

We do not official recommend the use of ‘M’ tyres, and infact suspect that customers gear-box failures were due to their using ‘M’ tyres, but my own view is that the introduction of the ‘M’ tyre coincided with the limit of fatigue life of many peoples gear-boxes. You should use 550 front and 600-660 rear and probably reduce the camber a little at the rear and should find the car faster.

You can obtain variations of the intermediate gearbox ratios by using some of the ratios from the Targa Florio box should you find the standard LM ratios not suitable for your circuits.

For an engine overhaul, as I think I told you, you should definitely change valve springs checking carefully to ensure that you have the correct fitted length. Bearing shells need only be changed where they appear necessary, also rear main oil-seal. Valve seats should not be changed unless absolutely necessary, this being determined by how far they have sunk into the head. I would not think that it was worth changing the big end bolts.

I am at a loss to understand why you have to grind down the rear pad, but can assure you that you have the correct calipers. We have never carried out compression checks ourselves but your system seems very sound, the engine presumably being hot. I can give you no indication of the valves to expect.

I would be most interested in hearing about any sort of racing programme you could offer me in Australia for 1966-67. Yours, Mike Parkes’

image

‘6321’ now part of the Ralph Lauren Collection

250P & 250LM…

Ferrari’s rebuff of the sale of his company to Ford in 1963 resulted in a ferociously competitive response by FoMoCo in sports car racing; Eric Broadley’s GT40 design in the prototype class and Carroll Shelby’s Ford engined AC Cobras /Daytona Coupes the response in the GT category.

In ‘GT’ the dominance of Ferrari’s ‘250 GTO’ was being challenged by the Cobra’s, Maranello’s  response was essentially to add a roof to its championship winning ’63 Prototype, the 3 litre V12 ‘250P’, call it the ‘250 LeMans’ and seek to homologate it into the ‘GT’ class. The CSI were onto Ferrari though, only 32 cars were built rather than the 100 mandated by the rules, so the cars raced as Prototypes until the CSI eventually relented and agreed to ‘GT’ homologation.

All but the first few cars were built with 3.3 litre V12’s, the first were 3 litres, but the 250LM name stuck, rather than 275LM as Ferrari naming convention dictated. (250 cc x 12 cylinders is 3000cc…275cc x 12 cylinders is 3300cc).

The McKay car, chassis # ‘6321’ was one of the last cars built.

The 250 LM’s were popular customer endurance racing cars but not considered outright contenders for ‘Blue Riband’ events but the race failure of the Ferrari P2 and Ford’s GT40 and Mk11 resulted in a famous victory for ex-F1 driver Masten Gregory and future World Champion Jochen Rindt at LeMans in 1965 .

The 2 drivers flogged the NART LM # ‘5893’  to within an inch of its life, to their surprise winning the event, Rindt famously expecting to be back in Paris early enough for dinner.

That victory was Ferrari ‘s last at Le Mans…

nart

North American Racing Team ‘NART’ victorious 250LM ‘5893’ at Le Mans ’65. Drivers Masten Gregory & Jochen Rindt (unattributed)

lm cutaway

Ferrari 250LM cutaway showing its 3.3 litre V12, 5 speed transaxle, spaceframe chassis and all independent suspension by wishbones and coil spring/dampers ( G Beht )

Etcetera…

spencer at sandown

First race meeting for ‘6321’, Sandown Tasman meeting 21 February 1965. Spencer Martin at the wheel. A win after Frank Matich retired his Lotus 19B Climax. (Ray Bell)

 

martin

Fabulous shot of Spencer Martin in the LM, Warwick Farm, August 1965. (John Ellacott)

 

caversham

Spencer Martin ahead of Lionel Beattie in the Byfield Ayres Repco Holden Spl during the ‘Le Mans 6 Hour’ race at Caversham, in WA’s Swan Valley in 1965. Martin drove to victory sharing with car owner David McKay. (Alan Yates)

 

spencer caversham

Another Caversham 1965 shot, by the look of the helmet perhaps David McKay at the wheel. LM ‘6321’. (Lionel McPherson)

 

LM Launch

‘Automobile Year’ coverage of the 250LM launch at the Paris Show in October 1963

Race History (inaccuurate & incomplete ) of 250 LM ‘6321’…

http://www.barchetta.cc/english/all.ferraris/Detail/6321.250LM.htm

Photo and Other Credits…

Dick Simpson, Roderick Mackenzie, G Beht cutaway drawing, Bob Jane Legends, Terry Walker, Automobile Year, John Ellacott, Alan Yates, Stephen Dalton Collection, Ray Bell, Lionel McPherson, Mike Parkes Letter from ‘The Nostalgia Forum’

Tailpiece…

scud

Finito…