32 Col­umns

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Fred Gibson re­calls one of the great char­ac­ters from the pri­va­teer ranks. Mean­while, the phi­lan­der­ing Phil An­ders signs off as an AMC colum­nist by ques­tion­ing whether Al­lan Mof­fat’s Brut 33 Fal­con ac­tu­ally went to the US in ’74. Theme song: John Denver’s ‘Leav­ing on a Jet Plane’.

What were you do­ing in Novem­ber 1967? If you were in Syd­ney at that time, I know one thing you prob­a­bly weren’t do­ing – drink­ing beer. Hard though it seems to be­lieve, there was a beer strike in NSW at that time. How­ever, one or two switched-on blokes knew how to get round that prob­lem.

One of them was a man I didn’t ac­tu­ally know in those beer-free days, but who be­came a life­long friend of mine, both on the track and off it. His name was Joe Moore and I’d like to tell you – or re­mind you – a lit­tle bit about the kind of char­ac­ter Joe was.

First of all I’d bet­ter ex­plain how our paths crossed. I went to Ama­roo Park with a cou­ple of my guys for a test day with my Syd­ney-based Fal­con GT-HO Phase III. Dur­ing a quiet spell in our own garage I was watch­ing this bloke in a brown Phase III blaz­ing round the cir­cuit. As I checked him out I thought, ‘Je­sus, he’s go­ing to hurt him­self if he keeps do­ing what he’s do­ing!’

So I went across and in­tro­duced my­self, asked who I was talk­ing to. He was a gruff sort of a guy and just barked ‘Joe Moore’. He said he’d just bought this Phase III. He told me he’d brought Jock up from the pub and Gerry, his mate, to give it a run and proudly an­nounced that he was go­ing to start rac­ing it.

I swal­lowed hard and said, “Well Joe, do you want me to give you a hand and talk to you about all that?” To cut a long story short, from that day in ’71 on he be­came a life­long friend and so did his fam­ily. A whole gang of us used to go away on Christ­mas hol­i­days to­gether – the Fo­leys, the Frenches, the Moores and the Gib­sons all went to Surfers Par­adise with all the kids in tow. Joe and his wife Marjorie had two boys, Scott and Anthony, and we started a last­ing friend­ship.

When we went up to the Gold Coast to­gether his unit would be full of grog! He’d have all the

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

mixer drinks there, the whole thing – he loved en­ter­tain­ing of a night. Dur­ing the day, though, Joe couldn’t han­dle the sun, so he used to buy ev­ery paper known to man, re­treat into his unit of a morn­ing and read them all ev­ery day. Just a habit of his – a re­ally down-to-earth guy.

You’re won­der­ing about the beer strike, aren’t you? Well, Joe by that time was in the ho­tel busi­ness, but it had taken him a lit­tle while to get there. He was born up in Sin­gle­ton in 1931 and yes, you’re right, that did make him even older than me!

He came down to Syd­ney to learn his trade as a mo­tor me­chanic but went back to his then home town, Wau­chope, once he had served his time. In the early 1950s Joe com­peted in mo­tor­cy­cle races at Bathurst and else­where and strung to­gether some pretty handy re­sults.

Joe also ac­quired an MGTC and an MGTF in the mid-fifties and used them to great ef­fect in hill­climbs in par­tic­u­lar. He and his good mate Barry Brain trav­elled around Aus­tralia in 1955 do­ing their own sur­vey for a big event com­ing later that year – the Redex Trial. They aban­doned the MG and did the Trial in a Ford Ze­phyr, but me­chan­i­cal prob­lems meant they had to pull out at Hugh­en­den in Queens­land.

A cou­ple of years later, Joe built Moore’s Ser­vice Sta­tion in Wau­chope, adding a Port Mac­quarie branch not long af­ter. His next road car was a tad more se­date than what he had been used to – a brand-new 1963 Chevy Bel Air.

Through the mid-1960s Joe be­came a very well-known fig­ure and an en­er­getic mem­ber of the Wau­chope Apex Club, de­vot­ing a lot of his time to char­ity fundrais­ing. He was the pres­i­dent of the club and then be­came Apex District Gover­nor in 1964.

But the big move for Joe Moore came in 1967. He sold up the servo and went into a dif­fer­ent kind of re­fu­elling busi­ness: as a pub­li­can. There was an old ho­tel, es­tab­lished in 1880, on the cor­ner of King and Pitt Streets in the city; Joe bought the King’s Ho­tel, as it was called, re­fur­bished the whole in­te­rior and the lower sec­tion of stonework, and turned it into one of the best small ho­tels in the cen­tre of Syd­ney.

When that beer strike hit, Joe adopted a sim­ple so­lu­tion: he im­ported sup­plies from Vic­to­ria! I don’t know if he had to pay a tar­iff at the bor­der but the King’s cus­tomers would have been happy to do so at the time.

Come the early 1970s, though, the rac­ing bug had bit­ten. Joe sold the se­date old Chevy and bought a Ford GT-HO in­stead. That’s when our paths crossed at Ama­roo Park, and from that day on we pre­pared his car at Road and Track. Joe’s rac­ing was done mostly at Ama­roo and Oran Park in that car. He was a ter­rific guy, he had a very big heart in a race­car – he would do things that a lot of other people wouldn’t do! – and he was a very com­pet­i­tive per­son as a sports­man. I’ll tell you a lot more about him in my next col­umn.

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