Bathurst by the years

Australian Muscle Car - - Man -

1963

Martin’s rst Great Race at the Moun­tain was... the rst Great Race at the Moun­tain! He drove the Scud­e­ria Ve­loce-en­tered Holden EH S4 with Brian Muir. How­ever, it all went pear-shaped for one of the favourites be­fore Martin even got be­hind the wheel.

“Brian was try­ing real hard and the rear shock-ab­sorbers were not up to the job,” re­calls Martin. “We were get­ting wheel tramp at the back and it broke the cen­tre-bolt in the spring and the dif­fer­en­tial moved back on one side pulling the tail­shaft out of the gear­box. It took quite a while to x as we pulled the tail­shaft out from an­other car.”

The glam­our Holden nished 38th over­all, 19 laps down on the win­ners.

1964

Firmly in the Scud­e­ria Ve­loce fold, for ‘64 Martin was sad­dled with one of the three dealer-sup­ported Vaux­hall Vi­vas en­tered in Class A. Teamed with an­other ris­ing Scud­e­ria star Bill Brown, the pair won their class in what was a Viva bene t.

1965

SV took a punt with a team of fac­tory Dat­sun Blue­birds that had per­formed fault­lessly in the pre­vi­ous year’s Sandown 6 Hour In­ter­na­tional, with both cars in the top ten. But Bathurst was very dif­fer­ent as Martin ex­plained.

“We kept break­ing wheels in prac­tice. David (McKay) made the de­ci­sion to with­draw the cars. The Ja­panese en­gi­neers were horri ed. It was a bit hard on Dat­sun.”

1967

The reign­ing and soon-to-be re­peat Gold Star champ was drafted into the Ford fac­tory team to drive one of the new XR Fal­con GTs, al­beit with a twist. His team boss and mul­ti­ple 500 win­ner Bob Jane shared the driv­ing du­ties. As a ris­ing tyre mag­nate, Jane made a prag­matic choice of ‘boots’ for the race and the de­ci­sion would prove costly in the race.

“We ran Ger­man Fulda ra­di­als. Bob of­fered a bonus for any­one rac­ing with them, but we were the only ones!” laughed Martin. “I’m go­ing down Con­rod at 120mph and the right-front tyre blew. We re­placed that and then a rear tyre went! Bob thought he knew what the prob­lem was and I said, ‘It’s your turn to have a drive, boss!’ We didn’t have any more prob­lems, but then Bob was lap­ping ve sec­onds a lap slower…”

The pair nished 18th having cov­ered 118 laps.

1968

AMC cov­ered Martin and Jim McKeown’s ex­ploits in the fac­tory XT Fal­con GT Auto in is­sue #102, but here is a quick re­cap. The pair quali ed strongly and were well-po­si­tioned in the race when a rear axle failed with McKeown on­board, the car shed­ding a wheel at Grif­fin’s Bend. By the time McKeown col­lected a new axle from the pits and re­placed it him­self the car was well out of con­tention.

1969

Martin never ac­tu­ally made it to Bathurst, but it is worth re­count­ing the lead-up to what would turn out to be a vic­to­ri­ous race in ‘his’ car.

Harry Firth had been hired by GM-H to form the Holden Dealer Team and bought Martin across with him from Ford to race at both Sandown and Bathurst in the new HT Monaro GTS 350. At the Sandown 250 he was teamed with old foe Kevin Bartlett in the sole HDT en­try, in the famed squad’s rst race. As Bartlett was com­pet­ing in a Gold Star race ear­lier in the day, Martin started the race.

“The car was okay,” re­mem­bers Martin. “We were get­ting wheel tramp and the brakes were mar­ginal. I was try­ing to hang onto Mof­fat (Fal­con GT-HO) who was lead­ing and the brake pedal was go­ing down. At the end of the main straight the pedal went to the oor. Noth­ing. There was no run-off, so I threw it at the cor­ner. It ew across the grass back­wards into the Armco. It drove the rear muf­fler into the fuel tank. The re was enor­mous. The doors were jammed, so I climbed out of the win­dow and crawled along the grass.”

Martin thought that it may have popped a rear brake-cylin­der, but Firth found the singed Monaro had a pedal, rul­ing out a leak and pin­ning the blame on the driver in Firth’s fa­mil­iar ‘you’re a naughty school­boy’ man­ner.

It wasn’t un­til 20 years later that the real rea­son emerged. HDT mechanic at the time Frank Lown­des (fa­ther of Craig) ad­mit­ted that af­ter the race pads were bed­ded in dur­ing prac­tice, road pads were tted so that the Monaro could be driven home overnight. How­ever, Lown­des failed to swap the pads be­fore the race and the road pads soon wore down to the metal – with cat­a­strophic re­sults.

For Bathurst, Martin was teamed with rally ace Tony Roberts, but had to with­draw af­ter in­jur­ing his back in a road ac­ci­dent prior to the race.

“I frac­tured my ver­te­brae in a car ac­ci­dent – my brother was driv­ing his old Holden wagon. I called Harry and told him I couldn’t drive. Colin Bond had been test­ing the Monaro at Ama­roo

1963

1964

1965

1967

1968

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