Warren Bridge, the photographer who supplied those wonderful shots of Windsor Speedway featured in AMC #72, spent his life working in a Sydney hospital as an orthotist. When he retired a few years ago he decided to buy a reminder of when he first started going to the speedway as a teenager.
This reminder is the famous McGee-Holden #13 speedcar raced by Werner Greve in the late 1950s, then by one of AMC’s favourites, Johnny Harvey, from 1959 onwards. Harves, of course, survived his speedway days to rack up many accomplishments in circuit racing, including winning the 1983 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst.
His old speedcar has been immaculately restored by Billy Wells in the Mobilgas colours it carried when Harves first drove it. In those days it was regarded as the fastest Holden-powered speedcar in Australia. Although Harvey didn’t race this car at Windsor, he has very fond memories of that track. “I had my first ever race there, and my first ever win,” he says. In other words, he scored his first win in his first race. That was in 1957 when he was only 18. That day he was driving a rough old midget – as speedcars were called back then – on loan from the legendary Len Brock (no relation to the legendary Peter Brock).
He spotted the car sitting unwanted in a corner of Brock’s garage, so Len told John that he could race it if he fixed it.
This car, or what was left of it, was powered by a hybrid twin-cylinder motorcycle unit with two Norton barrels attached to a Harley bottom end, a typical tweak of the period. The rear axle and wire wheels came from a pre-war Amilcar. Harvey put it back together over a six-month period then painted it black and orange with #48 on the tail. This bargain-basement machine was what Harvey drove to his first race victory. During the winter of 1957, Harvey had another five or six meetings at Windsor before his obvious talent was recognised and he graduated to the bright lights of the Sydney Showground circuit as part of the exclusive Don Mackay team. He won three NSW speedcar championships in the McGee Holden before deciding that road-racing was the way to go.
Warren Bridge remembers that Harvey ended upside-down in #13 on at least two occasions, at a time when it had no roll-bar. That may have helped him make his decision.