Im­proved Pro­duc­tion rac­ing life

Australian Muscle Car - - Mail -

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

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