Bathurst class act
1963, Lanock Motors asked Barry to drive a 1200 Beetle in class A of the new Bathurst 500 teamed with Bill Ford. The class saw a titanic battle with the Mini 850 of Don Holland and Lindsay Little as well as the VW Beetle of George Reynolds and Jim McKeown.
Like most of the things Barry was involved in, preparation and pre-event thinking played a key role. In the weeks before the crew went to Oran Park with the car that Lanock had chosen, a country rep’s company car, chosen because it performed better than other standard Beetles.
“We tried a number of different types of tyres to see which performed the best and while Michelin ultimately provided the best grip, we chose Pirellis because they had just a bit more slip than the Michelins and meant we didn’t suffer stability problems from too much rear-end grip.”
As the race unfolded it turned into a two-way fight between the Holland/Little Mini and the Ferguson/Ford Beetle with Reynolds/McKeown slipping back to third.
“For the last 30 or so laps we were pretty much nose to tail. Lindsay in the Mini would get away along Pit Straight and up the hill but I would be all over him down the Mountain to Forrest’s Elbow and could out-brake him into Murray’s,” said Barry.
“I realised that if I could out-brake him down at Murray’s he probably wouldn’t get past me before the finish line, so I stored that away and decided to bide my time and stay with him so that I could try it again on the final corner,” Barry recalled.
“On the last lap I pulled to the inside and outbraked him while Lindsay tried to stay with me on the outside but hit the marbles, slid and tripped over. I saw the Mini on its side in the mirror as we took the chequered flag,” said Barry.
“At scrutiny George Reynolds was lurking and watching everything. He couldn’t believe we had beaten him and was looking for the cheats he thought we had but there weren’t any and we won our class.”
It was the first of eight Bathurst starts but the only class win for Barry, competing in a VW again the next year for 12th in class. In 1965 he shared a Mini with Charlie Smith, taking fifth in class. Ironically in ’66 he shared an Isuzu Bellet with George Reynolds, finishing fifth in class.
Ferguson drove a factory Toyota Corolla with Brian Sampson for the next two years: disqualified in ’67 and second in class in ’68.
He and motoring journo Jim Laing-Peach’s Corolla were disqualified again in 1969, while his last appearance was in 1970, again with LaingPeach, this time in a Mazda 1300, for fifth in class.
Top: The famous battle of the tiddlers at the inaugural Bathurst 500 that came down to the final corner and was decided in favour of the Ferguson/Ford #54A Beetle. Strip below: Isuzu Bellett, 1966; Toyota Corolla, 1968; Mazda 1300, 1970.