Harves’ speed­car

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

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.

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