The other Beechey Monaro
Last edition we showcased Norm Beechey’s 1970 ATCC-winning Monaro GTS 350 as a poster. The stunning yellow beast’s starring role in these pages (and in the Bowden’s Own collection today) prompted us to ponder what became of the car’s predecessor, Norm’s Improved Production HK GTS 327.
Overshadowed by the achievements of its successor, the Beechey HK made its own mark in the history books by being the first Holden – and, in fact, the first Australian car – to win a race in the ATCC arena.
The five-round 1969 ATCC was to prove both fortuitous and frustrating for Beechey. Sure, the HK was immediately competitive, but squaring off against the race-bred Trans-Am Mustangs was a big ask for the local contender. Besides, reigning champ Pete Geoghegan’s steed was one battlehardened pony car.
Beechey failed to finish round one at Calder, blowing an engine while running third. At Mount Panorama at Easter, Beechey smacked the wall at Forrest’s Elbow during practice; the heavy hit putting him out for the weekend. Another engine failure during a preliminary race at Mallala meant that Beechey failed to make the grid for round three of the championship later the same day.
The bright-blue Monaro scored its historic breakthrough win at Surfers Paradise in the penultimate round; Beechey taking the flag after leader Geoghegan suffered a puncture. On to Symmons Plains for the final round, and Norm nursed an ailing gearbox across the line for the Monaro’s second ATCC win and in turn securing third in the title chase.
With Beechey’s team turning its attention to the new GTS 350, the HK was sold off to West Australian property developer Peter Briggs; and sporting a new Shell yellow colour-scheme, he competed with increasing success at Wanneroo throughout 1970.
The big coupe was a rare sight in 1971, and ultimately a financially stricken Briggs was forced to abandon racing altogether. The car was briefly in the possession of Terry LeMay, another local racer who had been responsible for the car’s preparation. But LeMay never hit the track in the Monaro and soon sold the car to speedway driver, Leo Gommers.
It was Leo’s intention to utilise the ex-Beechey car as a reference point for his own speedway Monaro. After many years laying idle and taking up space, Gommers transported the yellow HK to rural Narembeen – 300km east of Perth – where it was to rest for nearly 20 years on the property of fellow speedway driver, Ian Metcalf.
In 1989 Metcalf was contacted by Gary Smith, a friend of WA motorsport identity Don Behets. Gary was keen to take the Monaro on as a restoration project, a deal was done and the car was soon on a trailer to Perth, and subsequently back to Victoria. Over a 12-year period Gary slowly breathed life back into the GTS until he too sold the car to current historic touring car driver Milton Seferis. With other projects taking precedence over any further restoration of the Beechey Monaro, Seferis put the car up for sale in 2001. It wasn’t long before a buyer emerged and the Monaro, along with an inventory of parts, headed for Sydney. To AMC’s knowledge, Holden’s original V8 ATCC challenger hasn’t been seen in public since.
The editor received a phone call last year from a gentleman who said he owned this very car, but politely declined to leave his contact details. He indicated he would be back in touch in the near future. We’d love to hear from him again (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can confirm to readers, via some pics of the car today and an expanded story, that Norm’s first Monaro lives on. After all, it holds a special place in Holden’s racing history.