36 Right Said Fred

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Fred Gibson re­calls a char­ac­ter from the pri­va­teer ranks who was one of Bathurst’s best en­ter­tain­ers. This bloke’s great­est Bathurst re­sult was also, con­versely, his worst! Theme song: any­thing by Right Said Fred.

Istarted telling you last is­sue about my old friend Joe Moore, the pub­li­can-turned-ped­al­pusher who com­bined the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try with a rac­ing ca­reer off his own back in the 1970s and early ’80s. In 1976 Joe built a new ho­tel, the King Ge­orge Tav­ern, at the cor­ner of King and Ge­orge streets in Syd­ney’s CBD. He was blaz­ing a bit of a trail: it had four bars, a cock­tail bar, restaurants and ter­races mod­elled on what Joe had seen on a trip to the Rock­e­feller Cen­ter in New York.

By then he was a fa­mil­iar face at race meet­ings as well. We – as in my Road and Track busi­ness – looked af­ter his the GT-HO Phase III and then he moved into an A9X To­rana, a pur­chase that we set up for him. It was a Peter Brock car spon­sored by Pat­ter­sons, the Mel­bourne car deal­er­ship. Me be­ing who I am, want­ing to know we got the right car, as soon as Brock fin­ished rac­ing the car one weekend we put it on the trailer and took it home!

Not only did Joe cam­paign that car him­self, but Chris­tine (Gibson, my wife) also drove it with him in some long-dis­tance races.One weekend in 1978, Joe, due to un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances, couldn’t drive the next day at Oran Park. So Chris­tine and I co-drove it in the Roth­mans 500.

We were leading that 1978 marathon – 222 laps! – against HDT and ev­ery­one else, and at one stage we looked like win­ning, which would have been a first in Aus­tralia for a hus­band and wife, but we didn’t make it to the fin­ish.

Dur­ing those years Joe struck up a friend­ship with the race pro­mot­ers, helped by be­ing in­volved with us – we had a full-time me­chanic at Road

In his exclusive AMC col­umn, the Ford leg­end re­calls one of the great char­ac­ters he helped to scratch his rac­ing itch.

and Track to look af­ter his cars—and he got in Bathurst 1000 head hon­cho Ivan Stib­bard’s ear, as Joe of­ten did.

He was right, too; back in those days when we went to Bathurst there was nowhere to have a cof­fee or any­thing in the old pits.

The up­shot was that Joe es­tab­lished an­other King Ge­orge Tav­ern – right in the pits at Bathurst in 1978! It was just a mar­quee and a kitchen an­nexe to start with, but even­tu­ally they built a per­ma­nent brick struc­ture com­plete with a large restau­rant and bar and its own beer gar­den. Some of the team prin­ci­pals would book their whole team in there of a night. Joe had kegs of beer on tap.

It was all part of be­ing at Bathurst, and those mem­o­ries are some­thing Joe started. It’s a shame that it’s gone now be­cause it was a gen­uine part of Bathurst his­tory.

But Joe was still keen to keep rac­ing, so when the XD Fal­con came out, he bought one which we race-pre­pared for him and me for Bathurst 1980. We didn’t fin­ish that race for rea­sons I can’t re­call now. That’s the car which was in­volved in the crash that stopped the race in 1981, al­though he and Chris­tine fin­ished of­fi­cially sixth, so it had a fair bit of his­tory.

With that car writ­ten off, we built an XE for Joe. When I was other­wise en­gaged driv­ing a Nis­san Blue­bird a good friend of mine, Bruce Richard­son, who worked for Frank Matich for years, team-man­aged Joe’s car. Gra­ham Moore drove with Joe for a cou­ple of years, and a Bob Muir had a run too, in 1984, the last year the XE was el­i­gi­ble.

Joe was one of those hands-on people: he’d carry the kegs, help the guys run the pub, and when he moved into the King Ge­orge Tav­ern it was just three bare con­crete slabs in the new Amex Tow­ers. He and his staff did all the work on the project with the help of tradies. Joe was fit, had a med­i­cal ev­ery year, worked hard, and then just died in his sleep nine years ago. It was tragic that he didn’t live longer to ful­fil ev­ery­thing that he was ca­pa­ble of.

Joe en­joyed his mo­tor­sport and he loved com­pet­ing – he was as game as Ned Kelly: if you said he should be do­ing some­thing he’d go and do it. “That cor­ner there, Joe, you’ve got to go through full bore”, and he’d do it. He raced at Bathurst, Oran Park, Surfers Par­adise, Warwick Farm and Ama­roo Park, many of the big­gest venues in our sport. He also used to love rac­ing at Surfers Par­adise and many people won’t know that in late 1980 he loaned Dick John­son his car to drive there, be­cause Dick had fa­mously crashed his Tru-Blu Fal­con car at Bathurst just a few weeks be­fore.

We started the Joe Moore story with beer and I reckon that’s how we should fin­ish. Joe, Mar­jie and his two sons Anthony and Scott started an Aussie pub in Viet­nam! Just for some­thing to do: a dead-set Aussie pub – Mar­jie and Joe lived up­stairs, he im­ported all the gear you’d need to have the beer on tap and make it au­then­tic. Fre­quent vis­its by the var­i­ous po­lice and some­time clo­sure for un­just rea­sons, one of which was the on­go­ing fee by each author­ity to re­tain a small awning over the front door, made vi­able trad­ing near im­pos­si­ble. That would be a red flag to Joe be­cause he was be­ing shafted – he told me about the bribery and cor­rup­tion over there – and he and Mar­jie just left ev­ery­thing there and came home.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.