V8 SLEUTH

Australian Muscle Car - - Resurrected - WITH AARON NOO­NAN

Many of you will have read of plans in the me­dia in re­cent months to com­mem­o­rate Peter Brock at this year’s Su­percheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama. It’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that it’s a full 10 years this Septem­ber 8 since the icon of our sport sadly left us.

Look­ing ahead to this year’s race for The Peter Brock Tro­phy, the thought of the re­ported plans of hav­ing Brock’s Bathurst-win­ning cars on site driven by var­i­ous cur­rent and for­mer stars to cel­e­brate his life and achieve­ments is in­deed great.

Many of you may have read a piece in the Syd­ney pa­pers in mid-May that fo­cused on the search for the 1980-win­ning Brock/Richards VC Com­modore in a bid to have it lo­cated for this Oc­to­ber.

It gained plenty of great head­lines and valu­able ex­po­sure, but I hate to be a party pooper – it’s widely known that this car spent time with pri­va­teer Jim Keogh and later was con­verted into an AUSCAR.

An ac­ci­dent at Calder Park in a Sports­man race to­taled it in the early to mid 1990s and it was re-shelled, so un­less that dam­aged bodyshell some­how re-ap­pears and a lot of money is spent on it, we’ll have to come up with a replica or sim­i­lar to fill its place.

There are plenty of other Brock cars out there that are cur­rently un­der­go­ing restora­tion and, while they aren’t Bathurst-win­ning cars, they all form part of his spe­cial con­nec­tion to our cher­ished 1000-kilo­me­tre clas­sic.

The 1986 Mo­bil HDT Com­modore VK he shared with Al­lan Mof­fat, ad­ver­tised in the pages of this mag­a­zine last year, is un­der­go­ing a resto back to its VK spec­i­fi­ca­tion and ’86 Bathurst ap­pear­ance in Mel­bourne, the same city where his ‘Beth’ HRT Com­modore from the 1994 race is also be­ing re­turned to past glo­ries. And the turbo Ford Sierra RS500 – the same Den­car-built chas­sis that Brock used to take his record sixth Bathurst pole in 1989 and fin­ished fourth in 1990 – is now in the hands of his for­mer co-driver An­drew Miedecke and is also well down the track to be­ing re­turned to its glory days.

Sto­ries of ‘I’ve got a Brock race­car’ are plen­ti­ful and many across the desk and email box of the V8 Sleuth of­fices, but there are plenty of them out there that will make a real im­pres­sion when they are again re­vealed to the pub­lic in the full­ness of time.

Re­search­ing our fea­ture last is­sue on Tony Saw­ford’s Craven Mild/Al­lan Grice A9X To­rana got my brain tick­ing. We’ve es­tab­lished that his car was one of two pri­va­teer cars pur­chased by Grice’s team to arm it­self up for the 1979 endurance races and used as the #16 T-car at Bathurst that year.

It was pre­vi­ously the Bonds Gotcha car with the other car for­merly the Bob Forbes blue A9X raced by Forbes and Kevin Bartlett at Bathurst in 1977.

Our home­work all points to the fact the exForbes car was Grice’s #6 en­try for Bathurst in ’79 and was con­verted to LX SS spec­i­fi­ca­tion for 1980 to be used in the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship in a two-car Craven Mild team along­side Bob Mor­ris in a Com­modore. The poor old Grice To­rana copped a whack in the Calder round (the dam­age is shown in the file images here on these pages) but this was nothing com­pared to a much more se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent at Oran Park that de­stroyed this his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant car.

It’s his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant given it was the last To­rana to win an ATCC race – in Grice’s hands at Wan­neroo in 1980.

In fact, he still has the tro­phy from this event – avail­able for a price to a good home via V8 Sleuth. Plug, plug…

I’ve heard all sorts of sto­ries about the al­leged truth over this last ATCC-win­ning To­rana. There are re­ports of mul­ti­ple par­ties claim­ing to have the shell but I’ve never seen or heard any­thing pub­li­cally sub­stan­tial in the way of proof or sto­ry­line to back up any of these claims.

Ev­ery­thing points to this car be­ing long gone to tour­ing car heaven, or so far gone that what­ever re­mains of it can’t re­ally be con­sti­tuted as ‘the car’.

Given it’s the last To­rana to claim an ATCC race win (and ac­tu­ally also the first to carry McDon­ald’s spon­sor­ship in Aus­tralia with Forbes at the 1977 Hardie-Ferodo 1000!), I reckon telling the story of what hap­pened to this machine is one that needs to be done in the pages of AMC.

Do you have any pieces of the puz­zle that may help with pro­vid­ing first-hand ac­count, photo proof or sim­i­lar that can bring the tale of the Craven Mild To­rana to­gether? I’d love to hear from you.

It’s be­com­ing a yearly ques­tion I field about this time of year: ‘what Seven Sport Magic Mo­ments of Motorsport DVDs do you have com­ing up for re­lease this year Sleuth?’ So here are the answers!

Con­tin­u­ing our theme of re­leas­ing full Bathurst races, we have the 1981 and 1982 James Hardie 1000s. These are the full race day tele­casts from these two clas­sic races.

We’ve also de­cided to cel­e­brate Calder Park in Mel­bourne with a ‘Calder Clas­sics’ re­lease tak­ing in the 1986, 1987 and 1996 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship rounds from the venue – as well as a bonus NASCAR race from the Thun­der­dome!

Group A Clas­sics Vol­umes 1 and 2 were big hits, so we’ve opted to re­lease Vol­ume 3, with some great races from Win­ton, Mal­lala, Ama­roo Park and even one of the old Welling­ton 500 street races.

We’ll cel­e­brate Craig Lown­des’ early ca­reer, too, with a re­lease of three rounds from his dom­i­nant 1996 ATCC-win­ning sea­son plus a few gems from the vault of a much younger chap rac­ing in For­mula Ford. Speak­ing

of old mo­tor rac­ing gems, those that fol­low V8 Sleuth on Facebook may have seen a piece of gold I posted about re­cently.

We have man­aged to sal­vage from some very old for­mat tapes a se­lec­tion of Ama­roo Park mo­tor rac­ing from the late 1970s and early 1980s – it’s ma­te­rial that not even Seven Sport has in its im­pres­sive archives.

Some of the tapes are sadly be­yond sav­ing, but oth­ers have sur­vived the rav­ages of time (and per­haps some less-than-ideal stor­age fa­cil­i­ties!) quite well.

You can imag­ine I was like a giddy schoolboy when I found the fi­nal race from the 1978 Better Brakes 10,000 event at Ama­roo Park won by Colin Bond after his team­mate Al­lan Mof­fat and Bob Mor­ris came to­gether up over Bi­tu­pave Hill on the open­ing lap!

Given these tapes aren’t 100 per­cent TV broad­cast qual­ity, what we do with the vi­sion is up in the air. Maybe they may make some nice bonus ex­tras or a re­lease on their own in our Seven Sport Magic Mo­ments se­ries – only time will tell.

These tapes are the old Umatic for­mat ones used reg­u­larly by TV sta­tions in the 1970s and early ‘80s and find­ing a player for them isn’t easy. But your V8 Sleuth has got his hands on one, so if you have tapes of the for­mat sit­ting in your cup­board, get in touch, I want to know about them!

As al­ways, I love hear­ing from AMC read­ers with ques­tions, in­for­ma­tion or feed­back. If you’ve got an in­ter­est­ing car or in­ter­est­ing sto­ries, shoot me an email to aaron@v8sleuth.com.au or call my of­fice on 03 9585 1981.

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