88 V8 Sleuth
Channel Seven commentator and chassis historian Aaron Noonan reports on a rare pair of red Ford Sierra RS500s that are being readied for the track again. No, these Sierras didn’t originate in Queensland. Theme song: ‘Get back’ by The Beatles.
Last issue, Australian Muscle Car’s regular ‘The Car’s That Won Bathurst’ series focused on the 1988 Tooheys 1000-winning Ford Sierra RS500 of Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera, which is on display at the National Motor Racing Museum at Bathurst. I’ve now come across some great information about two more Group A Sierras that are being restored with a view to returning them to the track in the future.
It further underlines the rising appeal and interest in this era of racing as witnessed by the current Heritage Touring Cars category that competes on the Historic scene.
Remember the OXO Sierras of 1987? Well, you will be seeing them again soon.
It’s great to hear that two of the cars are in the hands of Sydney-based enthusiast Ben Tebbutt, who got in touch with the V8 Sleuth recently.
One of his cars is the OXO machine raced during the 1987 season by Don Smith. This car was driven by the late John Giddings and Bruce Stewart at Bathurst that season (under the #34 racing number).
It became Colin Bond’s 1988 Caltex CXT car that won the AMSCAR Series at Amaroo and finished third behind the dominant Shell duo of Dick Johnson and John Bowe in the Australian Touring Car Championship.
Tebbutt has been restoring this car for the best part of the last seven or so years and intends to race it in Heritage Touring Cars in its Bond 1988 Caltex livery and spec.
The second car was the sister car, raced as #35 in 1987 by Andrew Miedecke, that was rolled in practice for the Castrol 500 at Sandown by codriver and team owner Don Smith.
Sidelined from Group A racing, it was repaired and sold to Mike Ceveri, who turned it into a wicked Sports Sedan with fat flared guards and a thumping V8 motor!
Tebbutt purchased the car, less motor and gearbox, and is working on restoring it to original Group A specifications.
By the way, if you’re wondering whatever happened to the third OXO car, it was built new for Bathurst 1987 and was the car that Miedecke was driving when he duelled in the opening stages of that year’s race with Steve Soper and Andy Rouse.
It had been built to replace the rollover car and was raced by Miedecke in 1988 and early 1989, before being destroyed in the infamous Lakeside fire that season.
“I’ve been racing Minis in Group N for a few years and been researching the Sierras a lot,” Tebbutt told AMC.
“When they were racing I was in my teens and really sat up and took notice of motor racing then. It was just something about those cars. You can’t really help but be in awe of a four-cylinder car being that quick! They were my really vivid memories of watching Bathurst.
“When Group A cars were becoming Historic I watched Bob Tweedie in his car and thought it would be great to find one. I didn’t have the budget for a turnkey car and later I heard about
an OXO car not far from me. I kept doing my homework chasing up the histories and lineage.
“Then Les Swallow put the Caltex car up for sale in Melbourne and I bought it – it was a time capsule! It had been in his shed for pretty much 20 years. I’m hoping to get it stickered up soon and glass back in it and we can get it out and running.
“It’s been a slower restoration than planned, I’ve had it since about 2007 and been slowly restoring it but it’s painted now, which is one of the major humps.
“The other ‘rollover’ car I found in about 2008 after Don Smith had inspected my Caltex car. I went and saw it at Mike Ceveri’s and it wasn’t for sale. He was hoping his son Tom would drive it but that never happened. So we stayed in touch and he put it up for sale about three or four years later.
“Originally he wanted to sell it in Sports Sedan trim complete, but he later agreed to separate items and I bought it as a body shell.”
We look forward to keeping tabs on their progression and see them back out on the circuit sometime soon.
Finally, if you like Sierras, you’re going to love issue #77 of AMC. A nother car of major interest that Group C fans have often asked us about at AMC is the exCraven Mild Commodore that Allan Grice raced at Bathurst in 1980 with John Smith as co-driver.
Later raced by Neil Cunningham and Bernie Stack, the car is in the hands of Historic ‘newbie’ Gary Chick in New South Wales and is undergoing restoration back to how it ran at Bathurst some 34 years ago.
The car formed the basis of one of our ‘Missing In Action’ stories some time ago, so a more indepth story on it when its restoration is finished is on the V8 Sleuth’s ‘to do’ list!
Arecent trip interstate gave your V8 Sleuth a chance to stop by and catch up with one of the legends of Aussie touring car racing – Allan Grice. But there was a point for the catch up. The two-time Bathurst 1000 winner has asked yours truly to work on finding some suitable homes for some very impressive racing memorabilia from his fabulous career.
A quick rummage through some of the items left me on a trip back through time!
There was his 1986 Bathurst-winning helmet, a Holden Racing Team race suit (which we think may be indeed his 1990 winning flameproofs!), another helmet from his 1982 Bathurst polesetting lap (including becoming the first driver to achieve a lap average of 100 mph in a touring car – and the trophy that went with it!) as well as all sorts of other very cool, special and significant memorabilia.
Heck, there was even Gricey’s Fosters helmet and racesuit from racing NASCAR over in the United States!
We’re working our way through it slowly and will offer some very impressive stuff up in the weeks and months to come so keep an eye via my social media channels and in the pages of good magazines such as this very one.
Gricey says he’s keen for the items to go to good homes with motorsport memorabilia collectors. He’s enjoyed a long career in the sport and would rather they found homes with passionate and proud people.
Which makes me wonder – do you have a piece of Allan Grice racing memorabilia? An old race suit? A helmet? A piece of one of his old cars? I’d love to find out what is out there as I reckon Gricey’s place among the greats of the sport is often understated.
I firmly reckon he should be the next bloke inducted into V8 Supercar’s Hall of Fame too. Ian
Ward took the great shots from our Shannons Legends of Motorsport filming at Bowden’s Own Car Collection on the Sunshine Coast that we published last edition. Apologies for leaving this credit out – nice snapping Ian!
As always, I love hearing from AMC readers with questions, information or feedback, so shoot me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org