Punter pics

Australian Muscle Car - - Punter Pics Special -

Keith Trot­ter

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.”

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