STIX ‘Monaro’ in the USA

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Sport -


Dave Roberts took more than mem­o­ries and pho­to­graphs away from his Tour­ing Car Mas­ters cameo at Bathurst in his own Ca­maro. Roberts, upon re­turn­ing to United States, decked out his other race­car, a Pon­tiac GTO, in the colours of the Bathurst 1000-win­ning Te­kno Com­modore. Wit­ness­ing his first Great Race trackside clearly left a mighty im­pres­sion on Dave.

So how did an au­to­mo­tive prod­ucts com­pany CEO/chair­man from NASCAR coun­try, North Carolina, find him­self rac­ing on Aus­tralia’s most hal­lowed race­track?

Our story be­gins in Fe­bru­ary 2015 when Roberts, a racer whose cred­its in­clude ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in US vintage rac­ing and the Pirelli World Chal­lenge (a series akin to the Aus­tralian GT Cham­pi­onship) at­tended the Bathurst 12 Hour. While he was at Mount Panorama, he met lo­cal long-time racer and Pro­drive Rac­ing Aus­tralia co-owner Rusty French. Im­me­di­ately taken with all things Bathurst, Roberts launched a plan to com­pete there and French be­came a will­ing ac­com­plice.

For Roberts’ yel­low-and-blue 1969 Chevro­let Ca­maro, prepa­ra­tions in­cluded a 35-day sea voy­age fol­lowed by a trip to French’s shop to en­sure all was in or­der for its Aus­tralian rac­ing de­but. The Ca­maro has been ex­ten­sively raced in the US and is pre­pared in keep­ing with pe­riod Trans-Am stan­dards – mim­ick­ing Mark Don­ahue’s Penske Ca­maro un­der the skin – in­clud­ing a five-litre V8 with a sin­gle four-bar­rel Hol­ley car­bu­re­tor, four-speed trans­mis­sion and 1969 Corvette brakes. He would have his work cut out for him against a tough 55-car en­try that in­cluded TCM reg­u­lars and New Zealand’s Cen­tral Mus­cle Cars.

Roberts’ per­sonal prepa­ra­tion for Mount Panorama in­volved a few laps in a rental car, watch­ing YouTube videos and a track walk, but this only scratched the sur­face of the track’s mysteries. He had driven on a lot of cir­cuits, but noth­ing like this...

The nar­row­ness of the track re­minded Roberts of Mosport in Canada (be­fore its widen­ing).

“The sec­tion from Sky­line to For­rest’s El­bow re­sem­bled La­guna Seca’s Corkscrew,” he said, “but with all the twists and turns the cir­cuit has it was more like three Corkscrews!”

Over­all Roberts found Mount Panorama’s high speed straights and 23 turns daunt­ing.

The plan hatched months ear­lier came to fruition as Roberts and his Ca­maro took their spot on the grid at the Tour­ing Car Mas­ters sup­port race for the 2016 Bathurst 1000. Any con­cerns he had felt were quickly dis­pelled as he found the Aus­tralian and New Zealand driv­ers very re­spect­ful on track. He had no prob­lems mix­ing it up with his fel­low com­peti­tors. The rac­ers he met and com­peted against were great peo­ple who truly love their cars, al­ways proved most help­ful and, above all, were very fast!

Re­turn­ing to the US, but still want­ing to share his Bathurst ex­pe­ri­ence, Roberts de­cided to pay trib­ute to this year’s Bathurst 1000-win­ning car of Will Dav­i­son/Jonathon Webb by cloak­ing his Pon­tiac GTO in a sim­i­lar Dar­rell Lea STIX paint scheme. He felt this was a fit­ting way to high­light the GTO’s ori­gins as a Holden Monaro im­ported to the US with enough changes to meet reg­u­la­tions and Pon­tiac’s mar­ket­ing re­quire­ments. The car de­buted at the Sa­van­nah Speed Clas­sic in At­lanta where these pho­tos were taken.

All in all, Roberts, whose busi­ness in­cludes pro­duc­ing Hawk Per­for­mance brake pads, found com­pet­ing in Aus­tralia a “great ex­pe­ri­ence and a fan­tas­tic time” that he very much hopes to re­peat.

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