AMC: Why is your age usually listed as two years younger?
GF: I lied while I was racing because I’d started so late. I didn’t start rallying until I was almost 30 and I was already nearly 40 when I started racing.
AMC: How were the Nissan years?
GF: It was good right the way through. And Freddy was a really good team manager and looked after us really well.
AMC: Did you feel bad about Fred pushing you out towards the end?
GF: Oh yeah, of course, but I accepted it. I’m not silly; he had three drivers happening at the same time and I kept doing silly things like winning the touring cars at Winton… He nearly sacked me at Winton, I could see it coming, and then we won the race!
I mainly didn’t like it because I didn’t like Mark, and I didn’t think that Mark was the way to go, but Fred wanted somebody young to push on with because he’d just lost Glenn Seton. I think Mark’s father had a bit of input, so Freddy was pushing Mark and I kind of took that a little bit badly.
AMC: You worked well with Glenn.
GF: Glenn had a ton of talent and it was just diluted by the fact that he wanted to manage a team, not just drive, but Glenn could have gone anywhere – he was talented. To be a top driver, it’s not enough to be a good driver, you have to have other attributes and I don’t think Glenn was hungry enough to make Formula 1, for instance. To push that far, he didn’t want to go through all the pain to get there.
AMC: In hindsight, were you disappointed you weren’t able to get involved in the GT-R program?
GF: Not really. It doesn’t bother me at all. I think it would have been a pretty agricultural sort of device.
AMC: It would have won Bathurst though!
GF: Yeah, I know. It would have been nice, but what will be will be… Look, this might sound a bit sel sh, but I’ve always driven for myself. I’ve driven times where you don’t come anywhere
and you know you’ve driven really well, and that’s where the ful llment comes from.
AMC: But doesn’t it stick in your craw that Nissan didn’t even attend the 1983 ATCC nale when you were leading the championship?
GF: You know the old Henry Ford thing, ‘never complain, never explain’; well Howard was like that. He would never ever say sorry or anything like that. Howard and I had a good relationship and he knew he’d done wrong, but I could never ask him and he would never tell me, so I don’t know what happened.
AMC: I recall it was in protest against peripheral port (for Mazda) being allowed for Bathurst or something like that.
GF: Really? Well, I never knew anything of that.
AMC: Who was the best driver you raced against?
GF: Brock was the best to race against. He was never dirty, even when he had his st out the window at you! I remember him following me all the way at Lakeside once, all the bloody race. He couldn’t pass and he never biffed me; I was waiting for it, but he never did.
AMC: You did the Round Australia Trial in a works Cortina; how was that?
GF: It was a mistake that the project ran so late and the car wasn’t tested. All the things that happened to us, like engine mounts shearing off at the block, shouldn’t have happened. The Cortina was miles faster than the Commodore – and we had three good main drivers – but what a drama of an event it was.
AMC: Any regrets about your career?
GF: I would have liked to have started at 18. I think you’re a better overall package (when you’re younger). And it would have been nice to have won Bathurst because I deserved to get it, if you know what I mean. But we never once went to Bathurst knowing that we had a chance to win it, being bulletproof or fast enough. Qualifying is different to racing with a turbo engine.
AMC: So you never think of the one that got away?
GF: The year that got away was 1986 when Gary Scott got pole. I think we might have been pretty competitive in the race if the engine held up, and depending what boost we decided to use. That year the car was pretty competitive with the V8s.
AMC: But that’s the year you had the new chassis…
GF: Yes, so I was screwed already. So that year, woulda, coulda, shoulda… But, being a migrant and starting really late, I think my career was good – it turned out alright.