Brock­to­ber­fest

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

Peter Jan­son was keen to se­cure the ser­vices of Par­sons for 1984, but for the first time the Mel­bourne so­cialite had com­pe­ti­tion for his ser­vices.

“Apart from Jan­son, there was War­ren Cullen (Kmart), Peter Brock (HDT) and Frank Gard­ner (JPS Team BMW). I didn’t re­ally con­sider BMW as I al­ways wanted to run a V8. I went with Brock. Why wouldn’t you go there? It was the best team go­ing then and I was paid $12,000 for the year. With Jan­son I was just be­ing paid ex­penses.”

Rac­ing for the best team in the coun­try was a dou­ble-edged sword for Par­sons. The re­sources avail­able were sec­ond to none but the wel­com­ing party was sub­dued.

“Larry (Perkins) got his nose out of joint as I was quicker than him and my team­mate Slug (John Har­vey)!”

Bathurst 1984 was the last of Group C era and saw HDT’s day­glo Marl­boro Com­modores fin­ish a re­sound­ing 1-2. But it was any­thing but plain sail­ing for the num­ber #25 car of Har­vey/Par­sons.

“The gear­lever came out as I was go­ing up Moun­tain Straight. It was in fourth and I some­how man­aged to get it back into the box and se­lect third over the top. Me­chanic Marty Watts had the right bolt and was able to fix it prop­erly, but we lost a cou­ple of laps. Peter wanted a 1-2 fin­ish. He said, ‘Skip, don’t worry about it, rev the guts out of it, it will be fine!

“I had to claw 66 sec­onds off Alan Jones in sec­ond. And I did.”

Not sur­pris­ingly, Brock was keen for Par­sons to co-drive with him in the 1985 endurance races, but Skippy was hav­ing none of it.

“I said, ‘Tell Slug, I’m driv­ing with him and that’s that.

“Slug told me that I was go­ing to cause a rip­ple to which I replied, ‘Who is Brock any­how? He can find his own co-driver!’” Who was Brock? Only the team owner! Upon re­flec­tion, Par­sons said this sur­pris­ing amount of front from the then 26-year-old was due to the loy­alty he felt to Har­vey. He re­mem­bers that Brock got his nose out of joint and ten­sions were high in the Bathurst pits, par­tic­u­larly on the Sat­ur­day for Hardies He­roes.

Par­sons says he was so gung-ho he was telling any­one in the team who’d lis­ten he was ‘go­ing to kick Brock’s arse in qual­i­fy­ing’.

Which he duly did, de­spite the likes of Lewis Brock and Graeme ‘Mort’ Brown try­ing to calm him down.

“We never had a fall­ing out, but it was nig­gling,” re­calls Par­sons to­day. Not sur­pris­ingly, he had to look else­where for a drive in 1986…

“I went with Larry in his first year as a pri­va­teer. I was quicker than him at Sandown but we fin­ished well down. At Bathurst we broke a gear­box main­shaft while run­ning third. In early 1987 Larry took his Com­modore to New Zealand. At Welling­ton I touched the fence whilst run­ning sec­ond. We should have won,” laments Par­sons, who was re­placed by Denny Hulme for the Pukekohe race.

It looked like Par­sons would miss out on a drive for Bathurst ‘87. Un­usu­ally for him, he took the ini­tia­tive and picked up the phone and called an old mate who was also down on his luck.

“So I called Brock. I un­der­stood things weren’t great (Brock had just had his in­fa­mous bust-up with Holden over the po­lar­izer) and I said to him, ‘Let’s team up and kick their ar­ses!”

“He couldn’t pay me any­thing and said that there was no money for ho­tels, but my air tick­ets were cov­ered. It was done on a hand­shake. There were a lot of be­tray­als. It was all wrong. All Brock wanted to be was the first Holden home. I told him we can do that.”

The story of how Brock, Par­sons and Peter McLeod wres­tled the 1987 James Hardie 1000 from the best fac­tory tour­ing car teams in the world has been told in these pages back in is­sue #33. But what does Par­sons re­call about this fa­mous race?

“It re­ally was done on a shoe­string. Holden wouldn’t even sell us sec­ond hand parts, let alone new parts.”

What hasn’t been re­ported was that the #10 VL nearly came-a-crop­per dur­ing Par­sons’ stint.

“I was caught out in the wet on slicks. It was treach­er­ous. I used ev­ery bit of lock to get it through The Cut­ting. I was the last guy out there on slicks but I got it back to the pits for Brock’s run to the flag. The rest is his­tory.”

Peter Brock switched to BMW M3s for 1988 and Par­sons was un­der­whelmed by the Bavar­ian buzzboxes. Un­usu­ally he had an early hit out in the M3 at the Sym­mons Plains ATCC round, which he wryly re­calls.

“I was run­ning late. I had to milk 350 cows. The car was sit­ting there ready for qual­i­fy­ing. I dived in the right-hand door and nothing. Oh shit! Had to run to the other door (the BMW was LHD). The crew laughed. We got a 1-2 in class, but we were miles off in pace.

“Com­pared to the Com­modore, it was like chalk and cheese. Did I en­joy it? There was not

enough power; I thought it stopped and han­dled well enough.”

Par­sons took a gap year in 1989 for per­sonal rea­sons but vowed to re­turn the fol­low­ing year. “It drove me mad,” he re­mem­bers. “I bought a big tele­vi­sion and watched Bathurst at home with­out be­ing dis­turbed.”

In 1990 Par­sons shared a Brock Ford Sierra RS500 with Char­lie O’Brien. He re­mem­bers the Sierra be­ing a to­tally dif­fer­ent kind of race­car.

“One minute you had no horse­power, then a split sec­ond later it went from 300 to 600 horse­power. On skinny tyres!” Their Sierra fin­ished fourth at Sandown with Brock at the wheel and 11th at Bathurst. This was the last time he would race with Brock.

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