Improved Production racing life
The Hibbard car’s time in Improved Production racing extended to just four meetings over a short two-month period in autumn 1972.
It failed to front for its planned ATCC debut at the ‘72 series’ opener at Symmons Plains, Tasmania on March 5-6. Racing Car News reported that Hibbard considered ying the car over Bass Straight when it became apparent its completion was running behind schedule, but alas that never happened. Instead, the car debuted at Calder Park’s March 19 second round, starting off the back of the grid after missing qualifying. It lasted just a few laps in the race, its tyres rubbing badly on the bodywork and forcing an early retirement.
By the time it hit the track, Nelson was out of the picture.
“I was gone by that stage. I’d had enough. I’d done my part; the engine was done and dynoed, but the build was going on and on.”
Bravely, or stupidly, the team fronted with the still very much unsorted car to round three at Mt Panorama over the Easter weekend. This was the meeting that has gone down in domestic racing history for the ding-dong battle between the Super Falcon of Pete Geoghegan and Coke Mustangequipped Allan Moffat on race day.
Hibbard’s GT-HO didn’t feature beyond the opening practice session after a catastrophic engine failure on Conrod Straight. This occurred
immediately after being recorded travelling at 182mph (292km/h) through the speedtraps on Conrod Straight, with this speed later announced to the crowd. Witnesses reported that Hibbard appeared to keep his boot into it over the straight’s notorious nal hump, becoming airborne and revving the engine towards instant destruction.
When Hibbard trundled the smoky, steaming beast back into the pits, among those waiting for him was Ford drag racing identity and all-round Falcon GT enthusiast Noel Ward. He has clear recollections of what was left of the engine.
“The motor had a hole in the side of the block that you could stick your head into,” Noel Ward laughs today. “Three of the actual pistons were never found. They disintegrated that much they must have gone out the exhaust. It was a big one.”
The car played no further part in proceedings that weekend.
Somewhat surprisingly the car reappeared two weeks later at Sandown’s fourth round, with a new engine installed, likely the one in the car today. This was to be its best showing, despite failing to re-up when it was time to take to the grid.
Starting from the rear, Hibbard soon made good progress through the eld and ultimately nished in fourth place. Only the gun trio of race winner Allan Moffat (Mustang), Bob Jane (Camaro) and Norm Beechey (Monaro) nished ahead of him.
The Falcon’s nal outing was the nonchampionship meeting at Calder on May 14, 1972. It nished sixth overall in the 10-lap heat and fth in the 15-lap nale, against solid opposition such as Jane, Beechey, John Harvey, Alan Hamilton and others. But just as the car was hitting its
Calder Park ATCC