Bathurst class act

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle man -

In

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.

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