Fresh imagery of Bathurst 1977, especially the 1-2 ‘form finish’, is hard to come by for mags like AMC. So it was like a breath of fresh air when we first clapped eyes on Keith’s pics. “It would be good to see the old photos in your magazine. They have lived in a cupboard for too long now, and I would love to see them brought to life in AMC.” The Victorian described himself as something of a mug photographer who borrowed a good camera for his ’77 pilgrimage to the big race. “I used to go to all the tracks in the seventies: Calder, Sandown, Oran Park, Amaroo Park, Surfers Paradise, Lakeside, Castlereagh and Heathcote, but only ever took a few snaps. Bathurst was my big day out, and it was probably the first time I ever dedicated a whole day to taking photos. In 1977, I drove my 308ci-powered GTR XU-1 to the race and had a great time with it. The following year, 1978, my Falcon Cobra wasn’t quite ready to pick up from my local Ford dealer, so we went in my mate’s electric blue XY GT. That was a lot of fun. We drove it around Mount Panorama and despite the threat of police radars booking speedsters, we drove down Conrod Straight at 160km/h. Certainly not race speed, but an absolute blast none the less. The trip home proved more costly when, trying to break all records, I slammed the GT into the back of a semi-trailer on the Melbourne side of Seymour. I picked the Cobra up two weeks later and still have it today.” Back to his ’77 photographic handiwork, Keith nicely captured the famous finish from a Pit Straight spectator’s perspective, something we haven’t seen before. He spent the early laps at Hell Corner, then Murray’s, before a trip ‘up top’ in the middle of the day, before dashing back down the catch the finish – the traditional Sunday trackside spectating schedule! Love your work, Keith.
Keith captured a shot at Bathurst ’77 of the black Rusty French/Leo Leonard Falcon in pitlane during the race. Just visible far right is Morley Ford team manager Dale Sudholz, an AMC reader and good friend of the mag’s editor. In truth, Dale is everybody’s friend. We immediately emailed Dale the image and he was blown away to see, for the first time, an image capturing #23’s pivotal race moment. “To think that a punter took a photo and 40 years later sends it to AMC. Seriously! What the?! Let me explain... At some point of the race, around lunch time, I think, the car came in with gear selection problems; the drivers were complaining it was getting hard to shift. A quick look showed oil over the back panel and underneath, the L/H cross member support bolt was missing, dropping the box down at a misaligned angle, the tailshaft was running ‘cock-eyed’ and had chopped the seal out, losing oil and seizing up the gearbox. Bugger! We had another gearbox in the truck so decided to use two air-jacks to lift the car, plus a floor jack under the diff. Access was poor underneath, with everything red hot. A steward said to me to move the car, but I told him the ’box was seized and we couldn’t move it. Truth was, I didn’t want to go around the back somewhere where we didn’t have tools, jacks, work area, etc and I thought if we took it out the back, we might not be allowed to re-join. Anyway, they agreed. Of course, we only needed to drop the tailshaft and it could be pushed anywhere! We got the ’box changed in about 40 minutes and were back in the race. You can see in the image how dirty the backs of our clothes are. Paul, Keith, Kiwi and I were under the car. No creepers, just on the ground, which was some sort of sealed tar. I can’t recall why the steward is looking at the front wheel when Keith is changing it. But we got going again and covered 99 laps – alas, not enough to be classified as finishers.”