You can lead a horse to water
The Baldwin Ford team’s second and final outing was at Oran Park Raceway’s ‘Christmas Cup’ day-night meeting on Saturday, December 11, 1971. The works cars – with the exception of Leo Geoghegan’s Charger – didn’t front for the meeting, providing a big opportunity for the privateer Phase III team which had at least shown its speed at Bathurst.
Garry Rush had driving duties that day, a further indication that he was in favour with Field and Baldwin.
However, Rush and the orange XY didn’t get as far as the 15-lap main event, retiring with a lap of the preliminary remaining with clutch issues.
If failing to finish six laps of the Sydney circuit’s 1.6km short circuit – a mere six miles in total – was an underwhelming end to its racing car, there was one silver lining.
The car led the sprint’s opening laps, as Racing Car News’ News event report outlines.
“Rush lived up to his name by out-dragging the field to the first corner, roaring past Geoghegan from the second row of the grid to put the big Ford in the lead. It was flat out all the way, with Rush, Geoghegan (Charger), Holland (Torana) and Graham Ryan (Charger) rounding BP Corner together on the first lap.”
The man himself, Rush, remembers the Christmas Cup meeting as “a very funny day”.
“We arrived at Oran Park late, just in time for qualifying and we put the car on the second row of the grid.
“The Chargers were in front of me and when they dropped the flag, the Phase III had too much grunt for the Chargers. The Chargers were quick around the track, but had no answer the Phase III in a straight line.
“Bryan Baldwin was such a positive thinking person. So to see his car in the lead, he was
jumping out of his skin. He took the chalkboard off the young bloke who was hanging it out for me, so when I came past in the lead at the end of the first lap, here was Bryan standing by the fence with the chalkboard above his head with the word ‘GO’ written on it!” “He was shaking it above his head. “I led another lap with the Chargers and others all over me around the back. We blew a clutch on the third lap.”
The car didn’t take the grid for the two evening races and its racing days were over.
Baldwin too had had enough by this stage, no doubt determining the benefits to business – which was finding the going increasingly tough – were not there.
“I stayed in contact with Bryan for a while,” Rush continues, “but I don’t recall why he gave racing away. I was too preoccupied with what I was doing which was probably speedway.
“Bryan met with tragic circumstances a little bit later,” Rush concludes.
Rush on Oran Park: “Bryan was standing by the fence with the chalkboard above his head with the word ‘GO’ written on it.”