Harves presented with plaque
took over 40 years but Bathurst legend John Harvey was finally presented with a plaque for finishing runner-up in the 1976 Hardie-Ferodo 1000. The presentation was made at a function at Walkerville RSL in downtown Adelaide that honoured not only ‘Harves’ but several of the major players in that year’s ultra-dramatic race, when the winning Ron Hodgson Racing L34 limped over the line to take the chequered flag first, chased by the Holden Dealer Team example.
AMC #95 carried a preview of the evening, highlighting that the Harvey/Colin Bond combo were second in the Great Race that year to Bob Morris and John Fitzpatrick. Our story explained that while Bob, Bondy and Fitz all received their rightful trophies post-event, Harves missed out.
Torana enthusiasts righted this wrong at the special commemorative ‘The Last Lap’ evening on July 8 in front of a packed house, with John taking home a replica plaque modelled off Morris’s own plaque. One of the evening’s organisers and emcee Paul Horner says South Australian Torana enthusiasts thought it an appropriate way to show their respect to ever-popular Harves.
Bob Morris, Allan Grice and John ‘Stonie’ Stoneham were also on hand. Grice’s Saharadry one-liners provided several laughs, such as his answer to a question why he went NASCAR racing in the late 1980s: “Lack of IQ!”
The legends on hand posed for countless photos and signed many ‘grids’ of model cars.
Significantly, John Harvey also formally acknowledged second-place in the ’76 race in front of the gathering. AMC asked him on the night to elaborate. “l always thought that Bob was in front,” Harves explained. “When the race was over there was talk of protests, but l wasn’t really involved in that as l was the second driver to Colin Bond. So when it was all over l just packed up my gear and said goodbye to everybody and to Harry and buzzed off!
“However, about three months later, l was having lunch with the mechanics at HDT. Harry was out and they started talking about Bathurst and that Bob didn’t actually win it and we did! I thought, ‘You’re kidding,’ because l didn’t know this kind of talk was going on. So basically after that l just forgot about it because nobody was doing anything about it and as far as I was concerned Bob won the race and fair enough, l accepted that.
“Then l made a mistake: l did a book with Bill Tuckey years later [ED: 1987] and made mention of it and thought it’d just be a sentence or small paragraph if at all and he just went berserk making a full story out of it. I thought, ‘Oh no, what have I done’, so l regretted telling him, actually.”
Conjecture over who really won Bathurst in 1976 took on a life of its own after a 2002 testimonial dinner for Harvey, when Holden’s Ray Borrett publicly apologised to Harvey on behalf of the General for not allowing the HDT to protest the result on the day.
Some one-eyed HDT devotees somehow interpreted Borrett’s statement as confirmation of Harvey and Bond’s win. In the very least, coverage of Borrett’s statement in the motoring press served to muddy the waters and take some of the gloss off Morris’s win.
However, as AMC #96’s ‘The Camera Never Lies’ feature outlined, the release of almost the full 1976 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 telecast on DVD in 2014 cast serious doubt on claims that the second-placed HDT Torana had actually been ahead of the winning Morris/Fitzpatrick Torana. Vision of the lapboards displayed by the HDT late in the ’76 race contradicts any such claims.