1975 Hardie-Ferodo 1000
TThe car that went on to claim victory at Bathurst in 1975 didn’t show signs of being a Mountain beater earlier in the year. Peter Brock’s ’75 ATCC campaign was a tough one, highlighted by runnerup results at Calder, Surfers Paradise and the Lakeside final round, though retirements in the other four rounds meant he finished only seventh in the pointscore. But victories in the Sandown, Bathurst and Phillip Island endurance races meant the year finished with a flurry of silverware.
The 1975 Sandown 250 was Brock’s first big win in a car bearing his signature #05, actually #.05. Three weeks later at Bathurst, the car reverted to #5.
The 1975 Hardie-Ferodo 1000, compared to the two 1000s which followed, was a largely straightforward affair for the winning team.
The pole-sitting Colin Bond/John Walker Torana – the Holden Dealer Team sole entry that year – was delayed by a broken axle and finished third. The leading Falcon, of Allan Moffat and Ian Geoghegan, which also started from the front row, succumbed to suspension failure. This left the Bob Morris/Frank Gardner Torana as Brock and Brian Sampson’s main challenger, albeit two laps behind the winning machine at the end.
HDT boss Harry Firth, not known for liberally dishing out praise, credited Brock’s new-found ability to nurse the notoriously fragile V8 Torana as the major reason for the privateer Gown Hindhaugh team’s victory.
“Brock drove better in this race than ever before and seems to have got with it on preserving the machinery.”
Of course, it wasn’t just Brock who deserves credit. Co-driver Sampson, an accomplished openwheel racer and perennial Bathurst competitor, played a vital role in keeping the car circulating.
“I saw my role as a co-driver to look after the car and hand it back to Peter in good shape,” Sampson told Fairfax Media last year ahead of the 40th anniversary of their feat.
Sampson, 81, believes the decisive factor in the victory was Brock’s ability to coax both speed and reliability out of a car in an era when racing touring cars were far from bullet-proof.
“From the driving sense, he carried the team, absolutely. Not that I was useless, but he was The Man.”
Brock had walked out on the HDT at the end of 1974 and fell in with the small, independent, one-car privateer team run on the comparative smell of an oily rag. Norm Gown and Bruce Hindhaugh, who funded their racing through their engine reconditioning business, were battlers and, despite dominating the enduro events, it came as no surprise when the superstar driver departed to his own Team Brock for 1976.
Hindhaugh and Gown retained the L34, the former joined by Garth Wigston at Bathurst. Cam drive problems put them out after 56 laps.
Other big names also piloted the G-H L34 during ‘76 including Frank Gardner (who finished third in the Sandown ATCC round) and Colin Bond, who borrowed the car for the second heat in the Amaroo ATCC round after his own HDT unit was smashed in a first lap pile-up triggered by contact with Allan Grice.
The car was taken to Tasmania to race at Baskerville at the end of 1976 with Hindhaugh at the helm, and a deal was done with local Roger Stanley for the L34 to stay on in the Apple Isle.
He did take it back to the mainland to race in 1977, competing in three ATCC rounds at Calder, Sandown and Adelaide.