Harves pre­sented with plaque

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac - Ge­off Wood

It

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.

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