Bar­rier tri­als

Australian Muscle Car - - Bathurst Muscle -

Not sur­pris­ingly, the plan to run the ven­er­a­ble Miche­lin XAS tyres in the Hardie-Ferodo 500 was aban­doned be­fore the in­ex­pe­ri­enced team made the pil­grim­age to the Moun­tain.

“Garry [Rush], be­ing lo­cal, did pre-race test­ing at Oran Park,” Damon Beck ex­plains, “at which time the de­ci­sion was made to use Goodyear rac­ing tyres in­stead of hard-wear­ing Miche­lin ra­di­als, which were [in­tially] pre­ferred by our ad­viser, Les Shepherd.”

Deal­er­ship staff worked long hours to trans­fer the run­ning gear from the orig­i­nal car into the re­place­ment shell and then the spe­cial QC en­gine. Sev­eral have de­scribed the weeks leading up to Oc­to­ber 2-3 as a “cir­cus”, with staff keen to im­press Field to gain a spot as a pitcrew mem­ber.

Field says it was most cer­tainly “a boy’s own ad­ven­ture” for those hav­ing their first taste of com­pet­ing in the big race.

Dy­namome­ter tech­ni­cian Klaus Sayer, who took most of the candid shots pre­sented on these pages, says there was plenty of hoopla at the Brook­vale deal­er­ship im­me­di­ately prior to the race, in­clud­ing the day the lo­cal me­dia turned up.

A nice touch was the Mus­tang sil­hou­ette added to the Phase III MkII’s front fen­der pan­els.

Bald­win was a show­man and he went to Bathurst with the ex­pec­ta­tion that his car could win. Fail­ing that, he wanted his driv­ers to garner as much at­ten­tion as pos­si­ble.

A race that stops the na­tion

Through the 1960s and the bulk of the ’70s the Bathurst clas­sic was a two-day meet­ing – prac­tice on Satur­day, the race Sun­day. Grid po­si­tions were set on the ba­sis of Satur­day’s prac­tice times.

So it was less than ideal when Satur­day dawned windy.

“My first time on the track was in the first ses­sion on the Satur­day at Mount Panorama,” Beck says. “There was a se­vere cross-wind and I did the req­ui­site six laps to qual­ify with­out ex­ceed­ing 100mph.”

Beck says he set the car’s fastest time of the day, 2.46.2, in the sec­ond ses­sion do­ing the min­i­mal laps to save wear and tear on the car.

“I was de­lighted to be fastest and start­ing ninth was a bonus as there was only Leo Geoghegan (Charger) in other than GT-HOs ahead of us.”

The 2.46.2 was not far off the best of the dealer-en­tered cars, David McKay’s Fin­nie Ford ma­chine in fourth. The three works Fal­cons were sig­nif­i­cantly quicker though, and Mof­fat’s pole time of 2.38.9 (three sec­onds quicker than John French in sec­ond) was on an­other planet.

Beck, who con­sid­ered him­self lead and start­ing driver, was in for a rude shock.

“I was quite sur­prised when, af­ter qual­i­fy­ing, re­turn­ing home to Ka­toomba via the work­shop used by the team at the BP garage in Rocket Street, I was told that Garry would be start­ing the race.

“On Sun­day morn­ing I re­mon­strated with Bryan Bald­win, but he told me the mat­ter was in the hands of Ian Field.

“Even so, I was happy to be in the event and de­ter­mined to do the best I could.”

Field says to­day that it was plain to see that Rush was a star in the mak­ing.

“Damon and Garry were both tal­ented driv­ers, no doubt. But Garry Rush was a bril­liant driver. Within the team we reck­oned he could have made a ca­reer out of cir­cuit rac­ing.”

The mood in the team on Satur­day evening was pos­i­tive, but there was one more scare await­ing them be­fore the race, as Klaus Sayer ex­plains.

“In those days, af­ter Satur­day prac­tice you go into town to some­body’s work­shop and ser­vice the car, which we did. It was at this stage the team dis­cov­ered a tick­ing noise in the en­gine, some­thing like a valve spring.

“Luck­ily we had a spare car. I re­mem­ber this was late at night, so the pit crew, the ones al­lowed in pit­lane – which was only a small num­ber of our group – were sent off to bed. I wasn’t part of the main pit crew, as in the pit­lane crew, so I was one of the guys who stayed be­hind and took a cylin­der head off the spare en­gine and put it in the race en­gine. It was 4am or some­thing by the time we fin­ished. It was lucky we dis­cov­ered it when we did.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.