has read countless emails and correspondence from a range of sources including the investigations and first-hand analysis of the NMRM car undertaken by passionate and eagle-eyed enthusiasts. We’ve also had conversations with a wide cross-section of people involved with the HDT at the time and with the cars since.
One of these chats unearthed what can only be described as a ‘gold nugget’ of information we were very keen to pursue.
The source was Jeff Grech, ex-HDT mechanic, who later would work for Perkins Engineering, the Volvo Dealer Team, Gibson Motorsport and lead the Holden Racing Team during its golden late 1990s and early 2000s period.
Now out of the sport, Grech revealed to AMC a never-before-published piece of information that could hold a crucial clue as to which of the Marlboro HDT Commodore VK Big Bangers is #05 and which is #25.
How does he know? Because 30 years ago he says he made a unique mark on both of the cars as they were being built.
For the first time, Grech revealed to AMC the mark he made on both cars.
“The #25 car had an ‘S’ on it and the #05 had ‘B’ on it,” Grech told us. “That’s all it had for ‘Slug’ (John Harvey’s nickname) and ‘Brock’.
“I just stamped them with a letter and a hammer punch. There was nothing very high-tech about it. The dashes were out (of the car) so I just went bang and bang! It was just as ‘Part’ (fellow former HDT crew member Neill Burns’s nickname) put stamps on the engines.
“There was a marking I put on the cars. On particular cars and I’ve always done it, even later at Holden Racing Team, there was always a little signature put somewhere just so you knew.
“Just like when people lay concrete and put a little signature into it before it dries.
“Now whether that is still there or not, I can’t comment. On one of the cars, if there’s a letter on the second bend down to the floor on the A bar, that will really tell the story.
“No one else knows that and I’ve never told anyone about it until now.”
AMC has worked with the National Motor Racing Museum in analysing the roll-cage of the HDT Big Banger in their possession. The area is one that has not been analysed. Until now.
Terry Morgan is workshop manager of the Bathurst Regional Council, owner of the NMRM, and has had a long involvement with the 1984 HDT Commodore in its possession.
Morgan has had a very close look for the marking, using a lipstick camera capable of taking clear images. Sadly he’s encountered a roadblock.
“We’ve had a look everywhere and we have a pretty good tool for doing these things,” he says. “There is one spot (on the cage) where you can’t get access even with the dash removed. There is a metal plate about 75mm long covering that area of the roll-cage. You can’t get in between the metal plate and the roll-cage without taking an angle grinder to it and we’re certainly not going to do that!
“We’ve looked up and down where the kink in the cage is and there’s certainly nothing obvious around the front, top or sides. So I think the mark is covered. I’d say it’s in the spot where the plate is covering it.”
It goes without saying that the AMC team was buoyed by Grech’s revelation, only to be deflated when told this element of the cage is unreachable. Nevertheless, the insight is one that has never been reported anywhere before and, given that the cage in the car that went to Perth and England was changed, there will be neither a ‘B’ or ‘S’ marking in that area of the cage in the car now owned by Peter Champion.
Despite the disappointment of reaching a dead-end regarding Grech’s secret markings, other avenues of investigation proved more fruitful.
Above: After learning of Grech’s secret markings, AMC asked Bathurst Regional Council’s collections manager Tim Pike for permission to check the NMRM’s VK. The lipstick camera revealed that an L-shaped metal plate covered the spot on the roll-cage where Grech made his mark. The Champion car’s roll-cage was changed in the UK.
Peter Brock and Jeff
Grech. Bathurst 1984 ss ro C l au P