Colin Rus­sell

Australian Muscle Car - - Im­mor­tal Mus­cle -

Among

Colin Rus­sell’s many rac­ing achieve­ments was build­ing the engine that won the first Bathurst clas­sic run over 1000 kays. That was in 1973, as a key mem­ber of Ford’s fac­tory squad. When Ford dis­banded its Lot 6 Ma­honeys Road-based works team at sea­son’s end Rus­sell con­tin­ued help­ing the pri­va­teer Moffat team. By 1977 he was a TAFE teacher by day, moon­light­ing as MFDT’s diff and gear­box guru.

“Every night after work – be­ing TAFE – I’d head to the Toorak work­shop un­til mid­night,” Colin ex­plained to AMC. “I’d al­ways done diffs for Al­lan. In fact, he had one diff – as in the same phys­i­cal cen­tre – that he ran for six years. It was only for Bathurst, so it only got used once a year on a Sun­day! He just loved it.

“Carroll Smith, who was a fan­tas­tic or­gan­iser, had the cars set up on a gen­uine cast-iron fac­tory ta­ble where it was square in every po­si­tion. Peter Mol­loy han­dled the en­gines – mag­nif­i­cently too, I might add – and it was a plea­sure to be in­volved.”

Rus­sell was a late Bathurst ar­rival in ’77, hav­ing to first ful­fil his teach­ing du­ties. He picked up Moffat’s own Fal­con GT, which Al­lan had left at Mel­bourne air­port and drove overnight to the NSW Cen­tral West in the boss’s car.

It was a good thing the ex­pe­ri­enced Bathurst cam­paigner ar­rived at the cir­cuit when he did.

“Un­for­tu­nately, after Satur­day prac­tice, Carroll, with the stress of ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing, had got him­self into a sit­u­a­tion where he lit­er­ally col­lapsed,” Colin Rus­sell re­calls. “I just had to get him back to the mo­tel room; he looked like death warmed up to be hon­est with you.”

In Carroll’s ab­sence, Rus­sell says he or­gan­ised a ro­ta­tion sys­tem en­abling the crew to head back to their digs for a freshen-up, to cope with a long night of fi­nal prepa­ra­tion and checks.

“We agreed that every nut and bolt on that car that could come off, would come off and that we would drill it and lock-wire it. We could af­ford to do this time-wise as we had no real prob­lems. We’re glad we did.”

So what are Colin’s key mem­o­ries of race day?

“I re­mem­ber Al­lan getting out of the car after his dou­ble-stint and grab­bing Carroll’s hand to say, ‘We’ve got them on toast’. The un­for­tu­nate thing was that Carroll, in turn, shook Al­lan’s (blis­tered) hand too hard and Moffat ‘cracked it’.”

In­ter­est­ingly, Rus­sell says Moffat wasn’t aware that, late-race, Smith had held out the ‘FORM FIN­ISH 1-2’ mes­sage, as it was only shown to Colin Bond. Moffat, he says, was too busy deal­ing with his fail­ing brakes.

When we asked Rus­sell for his fi­nal words on Bathurst 1977, he re­calls the team spirit that week­end, typ­i­fied by a note that was left on the wind­screen of the #2 Fal­con.

“We, as in the me­chan­ics, went off for a tea break on the Satur­day evening. When we re­turned there was a note from Alan Hamil­ton and Colin Bond, which read some­thing like: ‘Win or lose, your ef­forts are very much ap­pre­ci­ated.’

“The guys thought that was great.”

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