TOP 25 Bathurst brides­maids

AMC presents the Bathurst clas­sic’s most notable run­ners-up – the ‘nearly men’ who just came up short.

Australian Muscle Car - - Top 25: Bathurst Bridesmaids -

No less than 42 driv­ers have fin­ished sec­ond in the Bathurst 500/1000 with­out scor­ing that much-cov­eted win. Here we present the most notable among them. Our line-up is a cu­ri­ous mix of hard luck sto­ries and sen­sa­tional sur­prise re­sults – the dis­ap­pointed and the de­lighted! In­spi­ra­tion for exploring this Top 25 topic came from sto­ries fea­tured this is­sue, most no­tably the Geoghe­gan brothers’ ex­pe­ri­ence in 1967 when their XR GT re­ceived the che­quered flag first only to be stripped of the vic­tory a few hours later. This proved to the clos­est Leo got to win­ning The Great Race. Then there’s this is­sue’s Muscle Man Bob Forbes, who, in the wet of 1974, opted to pre­serve sec­ond place (and his life!) rather than risk crash­ing out in the pur­suit of vic­tory. AMC presents the driv­ers who went oh-so-close to pulling off a Bathurst win. The nearly men!

1963 Fred Mor­gan

Real es­tate agent Fred Mor­gan and co-driver Ralph Sach posted Holden’s first Bathurst ‘podium’ in fin­ish­ing run­ners-up in the 1963 Arm­strong 500. The EH Holden S4 they drove was Mor­gan’s work car, which ex­plains the roof-mounted two-way ra­dio aerial seen in im­ages taken dur­ing prac­tice. Of­fi­cials made Mor­gan re­move the aerial for the race. Surely the best ever re­sult for a re­al­tor in the Oc­to­ber­clas­sic.

1967 Leo Geoghe­gan

For all Leo achieved in motorsport, it was a ma­jor source of frus­tra­tion for him that a Great Race vic­tory proved elu­sive. Par­tic­u­larly, as he re­ceived the che­quered flag first in the 1967 Gal­la­her 500 only to be put back to sec­ond when lap­scor­ers worked out they er­ro­neously awarded the Geoghe­gan brothers’ white XR an ex­tra lap dur­ing the race. Be­tween that year and 1973 he fin­ished in the top five on five oc­ca­sions.

1968 Jim Palmer & Phil West

Be­fore the Harry Firth-run Holden Dealer Team there was the David McKay-op­er­ated Holden Dealer Rac­ing Team. This was a short-lived en­tity born for Bathurst ‘68 and buried soon af­ter when it failed to beat Bruce McPhee’s pri­va­teer Monaro GTS 327. But the HDRT wasn’t a com­plete fail­ure as New Zealan­der Jim Palmer (in his only Bathurst start) and Aussie Phil West fin­ished sec­ond in the first big stoush be­tween Holden and Ford.

1971 Phil Barnes & Bob Skel­ton

Fin­ish­ing sec­ond to Al­lan Mof­fat’s works GT-HO Phase III in the 1971 HardieFerodo 500 is noth­ing to sneeze at, es­pe­cially when you fin­ish ahead of a dozen other Fal­cons. That was the achieve­ment of Byrt Ford pair­ing Barnes/ Skel­ton, sweet­ened by post­ing the fastest speed down Con­rod.That same pur­ple Phase III re­peated the re­sult the fol­low­ing year in the­hands of John French, who would have to wait nine more years for his Bathurstvic­tory.

1973 Doug Chivas

Will for­ever be re­mem­bered for hav­ing to push the To­rana GTR XU-1 he shared with Peter Brock up pit­lane af­ter run­ning out of fuel while lead­ing. The pair ul­ti­mately fin­ished sec­ond toAl­lan Mof­fat and Pete Geoghe­gan. The pain of his pit­lane penance was matched only by hav­ing the an­swer end­less ques­tions about this mem­o­rable mo­ment there­after. A pity, as Chivas’ Bathurst record in­cluded two third places (’67 and ’72) and two fourths (’68 and ’70).

1974 Bob Forbes & Wayne Ne­gus

As out­lined last is­sue, Forbes’ L34 led the soggy ’74 Bathurst race but had to make an ex­tra pit­stop com­pared to the win­ning Goss Fal­con to fit wets. Once he caught up to the race leader again, Forbes “de­cided I couldn’t over­take him safely. It was just piss­ing down!” He set­tled for sec­ond once he spot­ted the de­stroyed Rod McRae To­rana and has no re­grets. “We had the best day of our lives once we found out Rod was al­right.”

1975 Frank Gard­ner

An un­canny feel for his equip­ment meant Gard­ner was motorsport’s supreme devel­op­ment driver. That should have trans­lated to nurs­ing frag­ile Group C era cars to vic­tory at Bathurst, but it didn’t pan out that way. He came clos­est in part­ner­ing run­ner-up Bob Mor­ris in ’75, but va­cated the Ron Hodg­son co-driver role for ’76 when he threw his lot in with Al­lan Grice. Bad tim­ing: Mor­ris and new co-driver John Fitz­patrick won that race.

1977 Alan Hamil­ton

If Colin Bond had de­fied team or­ders and over­taken Al­lan Mof­fat for a 1977 Bathurst 2-1, then Bondy’s co-driver that day would be a Bathurst win­ner. Had Mof­fat de­fied team or­ders in 1969 and not pit­ted to re­place the Goodyear tyres that didn’t need re­plac­ing, then Moff’s co-driver that day would prob­a­bly be a Bathurst win­ner. Had Bathurst or­gan­is­ers man­dated two driv­ers per car in 1970 and ’71, then Mof­fat’s co-driver...

1979 Cap­tain Peter Jan­son

The pri­va­teer ranks of­ten pro­vided the Great Race’s best char­ac­ters. None more so than the deer­stalker-wear­ing and Cherry Ripe-throw­ing Mel­bourne-so­cialite Peter Jan­son. The Cap­tain was no light­weight be­hind the wheel ei­ther, post­ing con­sec­u­tive sec­ond-place fin­ishes in 1979 and 1980 with Larry Perkins – his po­lar op­po­site! Only the might of Brock and the HDT fin­ished ahead of this un­likely duo both those years.

1982 Alan Browne

The Re-Car team boss was one canny op­er­a­tor. Browne may have only been a week­end war­rior, but his five Bathurst cam­paigns be­tween 1979 and 1984 en­listed some of the best in the rac­ing game and the re­sults, be­yond his de­but year, re­flected his street smarts: fourth in 1980 with Brian Samp­son; fifth in ’81 with Tony Ed­mond­son; sec­ond in ’82 with Gricey and fifth in ’84 with Barry Lawrence.

1985 Roberto Ravaglia and Johnny Ce­cotto

Ital­ian Roberto Ravaglia and Venezue­lan Johnny Ce­cotto lobbed at Bathurst 1985 to drive a Bob Jane-en­tered, BMW fac­tory-run 635CSi and, with Teu­tonic ef­fi­ciency, fin­ished sec­ond. For blokey-blokes on Mount Panorama – well, those still con­scious by Sun­day arvo – with no ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Euro­pean tour­ing car roy­alty, they were merely for­eign­ers for Brocky to beat! ‘Bob Ravi­oli’ and ‘Johnny Chook­lotto’ both re­turned to the Mount but lady luck was not on their side.

1987, 2003 & 2004 Glenn Se­ton

If any­one was cursed at Bathurst it was surely Glenn Se­ton, de­spite fin­ish­ing run­ner-up in 1987. Most no­tably, his Fal­con conked out in ’95 while lead­ing with just nine laps re­main­ing. He rolled it back into a drive­way near Grif­fin’s Bend and coura­geously spoke to Seven’s Garry Wilkin­son via Race­cam. He had come ag­o­nis­ingly close to win­ning the race, 30 years af­ter his fa­ther Barry, ad­mit­ting it was “just heart-break­ing”. Sec­ond again in ’03 and ’04 would be as close as he would get.

1989 Klaus Niedzwiedz

The Ger­man led Al­lan Mof­fat’s ANZ Sierra at­tack in 1988, with the white car lead­ing com­fort­ably late race when the turbo went ‘pop’. Mof­fat re­dou­bled his ef­forts for 1989, again fly­ing Niedzwiedz in, but the best Klaus could col­lect was sec­ond be­hind the John­son/Bowe at the peak of the Shell Sier­ras’ pow­ers. It was lit­tle con­so­la­tion for the heart­break of the pre­vi­ous year, which fol­lowed be­ing ex­cluded from sec­ond in ’87 when Klaus was part of the Tex­aco fi­asco.

1990 & 2000 Paul Ra­disich

The Rat fin­ished sec­ond for DJR in both 1990 and 2000, but the one that re­ally got away was the 1999 FAI 1000. As team leader he was street­ing the field with just 20 laps left when he tan­gled with lapped traf­fic. Most thought he was charg­ing a lit­tle too hard with the race seem­ingly in his grasp. His AU Fal­con’s frag­ile front-split­ter gave way, dam­ag­ing the ra­di­a­tor and cook­ing the en­gine. Ra­disich was left stranded track­side to watch the clos­ing laps, con­sol­ing him­self by feed­ing a horse.

1994, 1997 & 2001 Brad Jones

Brad Jones saved Craig Lown­des’s ba­con in 1994 by keep­ing the HRT Com­modore VP they shared in con­tention un­til ‘The Kid’ found his feet... and sub­se­quently star­dom by du­elling late race with leader John Bowe. Jones would of­ten be in con­tention at Bathurst, but the cards never quite fell his way. His finest hour was 2001 when his OzE­mail AU Fal­con kept Skaife and Longhurst hon­est. Jones holds the record for the most Bathurst podi­ums with­out a vic­tory – six.

1995 Alan Jones

Run­ner- up in ’95 with Al­lan Grice stands as the 1980 World Cham­pion’s best re­sult at Bathurst in 19 at­tempts be­tween 1981 and 2002. AJ mostly drove for the best funded teams in the busi­ness and of­ten gave the race a good hard shake. Yet, de­spite show­ing as­ton­ish­ing speed at times, he didn’t quite crack it for a win. The cam­paign that best sums up Jonesy’s ef­forts was 1996’s Pack Leader Rac­ing tilt that ended in flames af­ter lead­ing in the wet.

1999 Cameron McConville

The clean­cut McConville was the first of a run of For­mula Ford cham­pi­ons to be given a go by the big tour­ing car teams at Bathurst. Sadly, his 1993 de­but, with DJR, came un­stuck through The Esses. It was a hit that put his ca­reer back sev­eral years, but he proved ev­er­re­li­able there­after as a lead driver or in a ‘best sup­port­ing role’. His finest mo­ments came as Lown­des’s co-driver in 1999 at HRT and a decade later part­ner­ing Ja­son Richards.

2001 John Cle­land

The mob up top of Mount Panorama fell in love with Scots­man John Cle­land when he gave them ‘the bird’ dur­ing an early cam­paign. The wise-crack­ing and of­ten sharp-tongued Cle­land proved a favourite with lo­cal teams too, be­com­ing the most capped in­ter­na­tional in the race’s his­tory with a dozen starts be­tween 1993 and 2005. He found a reg­u­lar home at Brad Jones Rac­ing in the noughties and it was as Brad’s speedy back-up that Cle­land had his finest hour – sec­ond in 2001.

2005, 2008 & 2009 Ja­son Richards

Any­one who had the plea­sure of meet­ing the late Ja­son Richards will tell you they never met a warmer, more up­beat hu­man be­ing than the cheer­ful New Zealan­der. If any­one de­served to ex­pe­ri­ence the joy of a Bathurst vic­tory it was he. Not only was he a good bloke and team player, he was bloody quick, too. Richards came oh-so-close on three oc­ca­sions in the noughties, part­ner­ing Greg Mur­phy, Cameron McConville and Jamie Whin­cup in Com­modores.

2007 James Court­ney

Whether it’s been with the Stone Brothers, DJR or the HRT – and re­gard­less of what’s hap­pened dur­ing the rest of the sea­son – Court­ney has al­ways been a force to be reck­oned with at Bathurst. His hgi­h­wa­ter mark, if you’ll ex­cuse the pun, came in 2007 in those fran­tic fi­nal wet laps. This will go down in race his­tory as the time the weather gods de­cided ashower would spice things up. Court­ney charged to the front and crossed the­line in sec­ond.

2007 David Bes­nard

Bes­nard was on course to win Bathurst at his first at­tempt, in the Cal­tex AU Fal­con in 2000 in the wet... un­til lead driverTony Longhurst crashed 10 laps from home. An­other wet event, in 2007, saw the car he shared with James Court­ney scram­ble to sec­ond place. How­ever, heart­break was never far away from the Syd­neysider over the 12 years of his Su­per­cars ca­reer, in­clud­ing a mas­sive wal­lop­ing at Grif­fin’s Bend first lap out of the pits in 2011.

2010 & 2015 Steve Owen

Like Steven Richards, Owen is one of the first Bathurst co-driv­ers to lock down a top seat each year. Un­like Richards, Owen is yet to score a Great Race win that his con­sid­er­able tal­ent sug­gests should be his. He al­ways seems to be in right team but not the right team car. Nonethe­less, he’s twice been run­ner-up – with Jamie Whin­cup and Mark Win­ter­bot­tom – and­will again drive for a crack op­er­a­tion in 2017, PRA, as trusty side­kick toC­haz Mostert.

2012 David Reynolds

‘Crazy Dave’ drove the race of his life at Bathurst 2012 to fin­ish sec­ond to Triple Eight’s Jamie Whin­cup/Paul Dum­brell in a car wear­ing the livery and num­ber of the 1967-win­ning XR Fal­con. De­fy­ing Split Enz, his­tory so very nearly re­peated it­self. The quirky and per­son­able Reynolds con­tin­ues to be a fron­trun­ner in Su­per­car com­pe­ti­tion to­day, although it would be a ma­jor sur­prise if the Ere­bus team put to­gether a Bathurst-win­ning pack­age.

2014 James Mof­fat

When your sur­name is Mof­fat there’s a cer­tain pres­sure of ex­pec­ta­tion you have to live with. Mof­fat Jnr and co-driver Taz Dou­glas came from the clouds in 2014 to fin­ish sec­ond, giv­ing Nis­san its best re­sult at Bathurst since the brand’s early 1990s hey­day. In­ter­est­ingly, his fa­mous fa­ther Al­lan only fin­ished run­ner-up once, in 1983 in a Mazda RX7 sharing with Yoshimi Katayama, which was also the Ja­panese driver’s best re­sult at Bathurst.

2016 Shane van Gis­ber­gen

SVG is the man on this list most likely to be a Bathurst win­ner in the full­ness of time... or as soon as Oc­to­ber this year. The Giz had the race shot to bits in 2015, only for his Te­kno Au­tosports Com­modore to fail to fire back up af­ter stalling when ex­it­ing its pit­box. The prodi­giously tal­ented New Zealan­der has been ear­marked for great­ness ever since ap­pear­ing on the scene as a 17-year-old in 2007. Yes, he’s been around for a decade now.

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