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For the last two decades Ade­laide In­ter­na­tional Race­way has been some­thing of a Clay­ton’s cir­cuit – the race­track you have when you don’t have a race­track. It’s still sit­ting out there in the sun, too.

This was one spot ahead of Mof­fat’s GT-HO Phase III that had en­dured a series of set­backs. Kaleda’s was the third Charger to fin­ish, be­hind the Chivas and Leo Geoghe­gan E49s. Ray was fourth in class D and picked up a prize for the best-pre­sented pit crew.

By 1973, Chrysler had with­drawn all of­fi­cial sup­port for mo­tor­sport and the Charger teams were very much on their own, and un­com­pet­i­tive. Ray still de­cided to en­ter the E38, again spon­sored by his own busi­ness and Roamer watches, which had been pro­vid­ing Ray with spon­sor­ship since 1969. With the new CAMS Group C rules in play he was able to in­stall a four­speed gear­box and com­pe­ti­tion rims. Chrysler did pro­vide some up­graded en­gine com­po­nents, which Ray in­stalled him­self.

Sixth place out­right would be his best Bathurst re­sult ever. His co-driver was Peter Granger who was also Ray’s friend and so­lic­i­tor! Ray again did most of the driv­ing.

“We drove the car within its lim­its, never over­revving the en­gine,” Ray re­calls. “We com­pleted the en­tire race with­out a brake pad change.”

The Charger was sold to Peter Granger’s busi­ness part­ner who wrote it off in a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent that left him badly in­jured.

“This guy hit a tree head-on and the car was com­pletely de­stroyed.”

Ray moved back into a To­rana for 1974, pur­chas­ing an SL/R 5000 L34. The Kaleda fam­ily’s photo al­bums in­cluded a shot of this car (on trade plates) in the drive­way of the fam­ily home ahead of its de­but, as best we can work out, in the ’74 Sandown 250. It re­tired af­ter 78 laps and the team didn’t make the trip to Bathurst a cou­ple of weeks later.

There were spo­radic out­ings in 1975 and ’76, in­clud­ing at Ama­roo Park, but he strug­gled to get the spon­sor­ship needed for an­other Bathurst chal­lenge.

He gath­ered the nec­es­sary funds for a re­turn to the Moun­tain in ‘76, this time with Bob Stevens. Sadly, af­ter qual­i­fy­ing 16th, the L34 didn’t start af­ter an in­ci­dent with a small car in fi­nal prac­tice.

Kaleda later built a To­rana A9X hatch­back that made oc­ca­sional out­ings in tour­ing car events. He later mod­i­fied the A9X with an in­jected 308 V8 for sports sedan rac­ing.

Ray fin­ished his rac­ing ca­reer in 1981, with the ever-in­creas­ing cost of mo­tor­sport be­ing a ma­jor fac­tor in his de­ci­sion to fi­nally call it quits. Over a 20-plus year pe­riod he had largely self-funded most of his cam­paigns and self-pre­pared all the cars he raced in his own work­shop. He had gone to Bathurst six times and the sixth plac­ing in 1973 in an un­com­pet­i­tive car against the pow­er­ful fac­tory teams would prove to be the pin­na­cle of his ca­reer.

Ray’s six Bathurst cam­paigns net­ted no fewer than four top 10 fin­ishes.

Fast for­ward now to 2002, when Ray re­ceived an award, a ‘Lithua­nian sports­man­ship medal’ that ac­knowl­edged his mo­tor­sport­ing and the

com­mu­nity ef­forts. It was recog­ni­tion for his con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try he made his home af­ter ar­riv­ing in Aus­tralia as a pen­ni­less refugee. He had to learn a new lan­guage and cul­ture, mar­ried, raised three sons – Danny, Garry and Alan – worked hard and built up a suc­cess­ful busi­ness which he kept un­til he re­tired.

His suc­cess in Aus­tralia’s Great Race in one of its most iconic cars is very much the ic­ing on a rich and well-de­served cake.

Hence, a few years ago the Kaleda fam­ily wanted to find Ray a Charger and present it as a replica to the E38 he raced at Bathurst in 1972 and 1973, as son Garry ex­plains.

“Ray had been di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s, so the fam­ily de­cided the Charger project would

pro­vide him with some ex­cel­lent ther­apy.”

Find­ing a gen­uine E38 is not easy and they ini­tially found a Hemi Or­ange R/T E37 in ‘barn­find’ con­di­tion. Not long af­ter they had set­tled on the E37, the fam­ily found a match­ing num­bers Hot Mus­tard E38 be­long­ing to Tony Guar­nac­cia, a pan­el­beater from Vic­to­ria. The E38 was the right colour, but was a ‘small tank’ ver­sion with the stan­dard size fuel tank and sin­gle rear-mounted filler.

None­the­less they bought the E38 and sent it to Mel­bourne-based Chrysler restora­tion spe­cial­ists Elko’s for com­ple­tion.

They de­cided to in­stall the ‘big tank’ twin-fillers and con­nect them to the tank un­der the boot floor. Garry says they de­cided to repli­cate the Charger as Ray’s E38 in 1972 be­cause at the time it was a road regis­tered car.

The tribute car came with a four-speed gear­box, a com­mon mod­i­fi­ca­tion for E38s to­day. Garry says they would like to get a three-speed for it, but these are very hard to find. Af­ter Elko’s, the Charger was sent to Brad Til­ley, at Til­ley Auto Garage, who set up the triple We­ber carbs and the sus­pen­sion.

Ray and his fam­ily are de­lighted with the E38 and have proudly dis­played it at var­i­ous events, in­clud­ing the 2017 Chryslers on the Mur­ray show at Al­bury-Wodonga, where our pho­tog­ra­phy was taken.

“Most im­por­tantly, it pro­vides a great way for Ray to spend his time and to ex­er­cise his mind,” Garry says.

The Charger drives beau­ti­fully, Garry says, and has been very re­li­able with 1000km trips un­der­taken with no prob­lems.

Of course, the Charger’s drive­abil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity would be no sur­prise to Ray af­ter his re­mark­able re­sults at Bathurst in 1972 and 1973!

Top left and bot­tom left: Match­ing dam­age. Above and right: Ray ran an L34 To­rana spas­mod­i­cally when bud­get al­lowed. An at­tack on Bathurst ’76 with Bob Stevens came un­stuck on the Sat­ur­day afternoon. De­spite an all-nighter, the car didn’t make the start Sun­day. Be­low: Macken­zie Kaleda, one of Ray’s seven grand­daugh­ters, with the tribute Charger that acts as a rolling fam­ily his­tory les­son.

Ray and Irena with sons Danny and Garry at Chryslers on the Mur­ray, where the tribute E38 proved a big hit. It un­locked the Kaleda story for many Mopar ma­ni­acs. Check out AMC’s Face­book page for other Kaleda fam­ily ar­chive pics and a home movie of Ray’s 1972 Bathurst cam­paign.

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