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.