Back in the day

1968 Hardie-Ferodo 500

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Mount Panorama was a very dif­fer­ent kind of place half a cen­tury ago.

Fifty years is quite a long time when you think about it. Th­ese shots from the ’68 Great Race of­fer us a graphic il­lus­tra­tion of how much things have changed at Mount Panorama in half a cen­tury – the venue it­self as much as the ma­chin­ery. It’s also a re­minder that in year one of the bat­tle at Bathurst be­tween Ford and Holden, it wasn’t strictly an exclusive V8 ght be­tween the two – Warren Wel­don had de­cided to give it one last go in his ’65 model Stude­baker Lark (and there was also a V8 Valiant VE that year, for Clyde Hod­gins and Stan Pom­roy).

While Wel­don quali ed the big Amer­i­can car a de­cent 13th, time had moved on – in this magni cent shot (above) at Sky­line, the old Lark looks al­most as though it’s from an en­tirely dif­fer­ent (ear­lier) era from the GTS 327 ahead of it (and in many ways it was).

The vista at Sky­line in 1968 cer­tainly does rep­re­sent a dif­fer­ent era from the cir­cuit we know in 2018 – post-and-wire farm-style fenc­ing where to­day there are con­crete walls, earth banks and wooden rail­way sleeper ‘safety fences’ where there are now gravel-trap runoff ar­eas, un­pro­tected tele­graph poles and wires, and the odd tree grow­ing lit­er­ally on the edge of the track…

Al­most para­dox­i­cally, at a time when the cars were heavy, un­der-tyred, un­der-braked V8 mon­sters with none of the safety fea­tures you see in to­day’s Su­per­cars (and li­able at any mo­ment to break un­der the strain of the pun­ish­ing moun­tain cir­cuit), never were there so many solid track­side ob­jects to hit or smash through. Not to men­tion an un­walled Moun­tain cliff-edge to crash over...

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