Fair­mont

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

prac­ti­cal rea­son: the shell was de­liv­ered to the team with the Fair­mont nose.

“The shell for the car came from Ford with a Fair­mont grille and lights. I’m un­sure why, but it did. So we sim­ply used those items in build­ing the race­car,” Dale ex­plains. “There were lots of ques­tion marks hang­ing over the XC model’s ho­molo­ga­tion in the weeks lead­ing up to Sandown. It def­i­nitely wasn’t a GT; wasn’t re­ally a GS; wasn’t a Fair­mont either. But with no clar­ity we just used what we had.

“We fronted to Sandown like that, but CAMS weren’t im­pressed. I pleaded that Ford hadn’t spec­i­fied the model type to be raced in time un­til we were well into the build of the car. Any­way, they let us run like that, but with a stern, ‘Don’t front to Bathurst like that!’

“Ev­ery­body loved the square head­lights; they looked so good.”

Sadly, re­sults didn’t match the look. The car re­tired early.

“The right-hand front outer wheel-bear­ing failed as it went past the pits on lap six and it was un­able to limp back to the pits. Leo Leonard walked back to the pits from the other end of the track,” he re­calls.

Sud­holz sent us the two in­set shots show­ing the brand new car about to be loaded into Rusty French’s trailer for the first time ahead of a wheel align­ment at Stillwell Ford and an af­ter­noon of test­ing at Calder with Leo Leonard.

“Leo was a real pro; a lovely chap and we worked through a pro­gram. I had the car set up ba­si­cally like the MFDT cars as they ran at Calder in March, so the base­line was good. Leo did a lot of laps, changed bug­ger all. He did some rear bar and shocks changes and we ended up pretty much where we started.”

At Bathurst, in XC Fal­con GS500 guise, the car qual­i­fied a re­spectable 17th. It failed to cover enough laps to be clas­si­fied as a fin­isher.

“The gear­box seized early in the race which we changed in pit­lane, sit­ting up on air jacks – OH&S hadn’t been in­vented back then – which wasn’t very high and made the job that much more dif­fi­cult. Any­way, we changed it and out it went again, down a lot of laps.”

The Rusty Fair­mont lives on to­day, in its Bathurst 1977 spec, in the hands of Tom Von­drasek. It has hit the track once or twice in the Her­itage Tour­ing Cars class.

While Rusty French’s ear­li­est Fal­con as­saults didn’t go to plan, he sub­se­quently en­joyed backto-back Bathurst 1000 wins, in 2013 and 2014, as Pro­drive Rac­ing Aus­tralia’s co-owner. And to think, it all started with a Fair­mont!

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