Mem­o­ries of Bathurst ’75

Australian Muscle Car - - Cars That Won Bathurst -

Bob Gra­cie was part of the small Gown-Hind­haugh crew for the 1975 sea­son along­side a young Les Small.

Gra­cie fondly re­calls his time work­ing at the small au­to­mo­tive work­shop – which, in­ci­dently, still ex­ists to­day – in the outer south-east­ern Mel­bourne sub­urb of Box Hill South.

“In 1974 I’d been work­ing over­seas and when I came back a mate of mine Norm Gown asked me if I’d work for him be­cause he had a new young driver who might come and drive a car for him,” Gra­cie told AMC.

“Norm said he’d go a buy one of these new L34s and that’s what he did: picked it up, brought it back to the work­shop. I said yes, I’d be quite happy to work for him as long as this new driver named Peter Brock would drive the car, not Norm Gown!

“Bruce and Norm were re­ally good to work for; I just purely worked on the race­car and wasn’t in­volved with the en­gine shop or en­gine re­con­di­tion­ing shop.

“The first time I met Brock was one Sat­ur­day when he came up after we’d bought the car. I’d seen Peter Brock be­fore at a race meet­ing but never met him. He was very ex­cited, too. He’d just been given the arse by the HDT so he had a point to prove, I guess.

“It was just tim­ing and luck that I got to work with Peter. He was ex­tremely easy to get on with; he was one of the boys, not a prima donna, down to earth. He knew he could drive and he could beat any­one if we could give him the right car.”

The team’s new L34 was brand new. While cash wasn’t in huge sup­ply, en­thu­si­asm and en­gine knowl­edge were plen­ti­ful in the GownHind­haugh work­shop.

“Dur­ing the tour­ing car cham­pi­onship races we strug­gled a bit to learn it but once we’d got to the long dis­tance races we’d man­aged to get ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol, the en­gines and all the other bits and pieces,” says Gra­cie, who later moved with Brock to Team Brock and onto Bill Pat­ter­son Rac­ing and the Holden Dealer Team in the early 1980s.

“At that point Peter had a point to prove, to beat those red and white cars.

“Meet­ing to meet­ing was how we had to travel. I was the only one who was paid to work on the race­car, ev­ery­one else was part-time, friends and vol­un­teers.

“There was nothing spe­cial about that car. It was just bought off the show­room floor; nothing spe­cial.

“We thought, if we can win Sandown, then we can win Bathurst. My first ven­ture to Bathurst was with that car. We put it on the trailer be­hind the ute and drove up with my mate Les Small who was also on the team.

“We got there on the Thurs­day and the old ute was loaded up with a spare en­gine, gear­box and ev­ery­thing that we owned with the car on the back, so we thought we’d go for a drive around the cir­cuit. We got to The Cut­ting and the old ute couldn’t even make it up the Cut­ting, so we had to back down a drive­way and head back down!

“It was such an ad­ven­ture for us, just a lit­tle team up against the big teams. Ford and Mof­fat were pretty big and Harry Firth’s team was mas­sive. We were just half a dozen blokes who were all vol­un­teers who wanted to get in­volved.

“After win­ning the race they had the truck with the podium on the top, and I re­mem­ber Brock, Brian Samp­son, Norm Gown, Bruce Hind­haugh and my­self got up there and pro­ceeded to do the lap around wav­ing to the crowd.

“Ev­ery­one’s yelling and scream­ing, we got up to the top at McPhillamy Park and luck­ily enough some­one no­ticed a TV cable span­ning the track that was two feet lower than we were - ev­ery­one ducked just in time be­fore we got our heads ripped off, but we got un­der it suc­cess­fully and con­tin­ued the lap!”

Au­topix/AN1 Me­dia

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