Koala Park to Everlast
“I grew up in the Hills District (of Sydney) just down from the Koala Park in West Pennant Hills, where as a kid I used to work as a tour guide on weekends,” remembers Bill O’Brien today. “I also had a job at the Maglite Battery factory after school making batteries. My parents split up when I was 15. One stayed in Sydney and the other moved to Tasmania, so I moved to Canberra! I worked hard for three years, saving up enough to start my own business and away I went.” That business was the Everlast Battery Service, which made automotive batteries. After two years of successful trading he was bought by the biggest player Exide and became one of their distributors. It evolved into Everlast Automotive Services, running tow trucks, smash repairs (cars and trucks) and general servicing workshops. In time Everlast would become the biggest independent automotive business in Canberra, employing over a hundred people. By the early 1970s O’Brien had the means to dabble in motor racing.
“I started off at the Tralee Speedway in an XP Falcon coupe with trick McGee fuel injection,” O’Brien recalls of his time on Canberra’s clay oval. “It was the fastest six cylinder car at Tralee. I used to pass Mustangs up the main straight! We raced at Liverpool and went as far as Toowoomba. I did this for about six or seven years.”
Like many others who just their teeth on clay, O’Brien soon found himself drawn to big-time circuit racing.