Father Par­sons pro­vides

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

Prior to Bathurst 1981 the Par­sons had agreed to buy Alan Browne’s Re-Car Com­modore, for de­liv­ery after the race. Then, sure enough, the car was al­most de­stroyed after be­ing caught up in the race-end­ing multi-car crash at McPhillamy Park.

It was re­paired prior to it head­ing to Tassie, but it was twisted, full of bog and very heavy.

Still, a strong HDT en­gine was pur­chased from John Har­vey and the lit­tle team fronted up at its home track, Sym­mons Plains, for an early sea­son ATCC round. It was here where they first as­tounded the pun­dits by fin­ish­ing an im­pres­sive fifth out­right. Par­sons re­mem­bers it cre­ated a bit of a stir within the rac­ing es­tab­lish­ment.

“John Har­vey came over to Dad and said; ‘Gra­ham, that en­gine – you haven’t put dif­fer­ent heads on it, have you?’” “‘Ab­so­lutely not!’” “‘That boy of yours is go­ing far too quick in it and mak­ing the rest of us look a bit silly.’”

“Any­way, they took the head off, checked it and it was spot on.”

It was an aus­pi­cious start, but the team had no money and only con­tested ATCC rounds close to home. In­deed Father Par­sons had taken out a mort­gage on the dairy farm just to con­tinue rac­ing.

“The bank man­ager thought Dad had bought more cows,” chuck­led Par­sons. “He said, ‘You don’t do those things.’ We did look for spon­sor­ship but I was a dairy farmer and didn’t know how to mar­ket my­self.”

Nev­er­the­less a guardian an­gel soon ap­peared – no halo, only a deer­stalker. The prince of pri­va­teers, Cap­tain Peter Jan­son, took a punt on the new kid and signed him up to drive with him at Bathurst.

“He just rang me up and said, ‘It’s Cap­tain Peter Jan­son here, David. Right, I want you to drive with me at Sandown and Bathurst.’

“I had to jump on a plane. I ar­rived at his pent­house suite and there was a large party. I’m a boy from the bush who milks cows, is as green as grass and wants to go mo­tor rac­ing. What is this other stuff about? The big cigar? He took me un­der his wing and we went to Sandown and Bathurst.”

Par­sons ran his own Com­modore in the Sandown 400, re­plete with the Cap­tain’s spon­sors, while Jan­son ran his reg­u­lar yel­lowy-orange Com­modore. Nei­ther car fin­ished, with Par­sons be­ing taken out by an er­rant lapped car. Bathurst was a dif­fer­ent story. The pair qual­i­fied third and came home a ster­ling fourth with Par­sons win­ning the Rookie-of-the-Year award.

For 1983 Par­sons re­verted to his faith­ful white Com­modore and em­barked on the full ATCC trail. With min­i­mum trade sup­port (TAA and Valvo­line) he com­peted in ev­ery round bar one and fin­ished sev­enth over­all with strong plac­ings at Sym­mons Plains, Wan­neroo and Lake­side. It was very much a shoe­string ef­fort, as he re­counts to­day.

“I trav­elled with Dad in a panel van tow­ing the car. Dad was ev­ery­thing. With­out him none of this would be pos­si­ble. Car pre­parer John Stevens some­times came with us and Les Small helped us a bit. Gra­ham ‘Mort’ Brown from HDT gave us their old tyres for $120 a set. I never had any new tyres un­til I got to Lake­side and the car was so dif­fer­ent. It didn’t slide, it just gripped.”

Par­sons had a big crash at the Ade­laide In­ter­na­tional Race­way round of the cham­pi­onship. That re­ally stretched the purse strings. How­ever, there was another guardian an­gel look­ing out for him.

“Les Small had sold us some trick springs and shocks but we hadn’t been told to mod­ify the shock tow­ers. So at the fast turn one it bot­tomed out and un­der­steered off the track. On the grass it did a gi­ant arc and I backed it into the tyre wall. The dam­age went back to the rear win­dow.”

Ade­laide Holden dealer – and then HDT SV fi­nancier and linch­pin – Vin Kean was there and he ap­proached Gra­ham Par­sons with an of­fer to fix the bent Com­modore.

“He told my Dad, ‘I like the boy. He’s a good up and com­ing driver. We’ll sup­ply the parts and pan­els. We have a body­work shop and our guys will fix it the way it was.’ I wouldn’t have been able to con­tinue with­out Vin’s as­sis­tance.”

For Sandown and Bathurst, Par­sons once again teamed up with Jan­son. This time Par­sons qual­i­fied the Cad­bury-Sch­weppes Com­modore in Hardies He­roes a stun­ning third fastest. But in the race the en­gine blew spec­tac­u­larly with Jan­son at the wheel.

By this time Par­sons was hot prop­erty but flat broke. The 1983 ATCC had drained all the fam­ily’s fi­nances and the Com­modore was sold. Par­sons would never com­mit to a full cham­pi­onship cam­paign again. From here on in he would be an en­duro gun for hire.

Top: Like his Dad six years be­fore him, David Par­sons made the ATCC reg­u­lars sit up and take no­tice. How ‘bout that for a plain-jane Com­modore? Above: This AIR hit took the wind out of his sails and wiped out the team’s bud­get. But then the Cap­tain called and Bathurst beck­oned.

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