LEG­ENDS OF BATHURST FES­TI­VAL

Words and pho­tos: Steve Ritchie

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents -

Grow­ing up, Bathurst was al­ways watched live on TV, with the most mem­o­rable race be­ing that when the Godzilla Nis­san Sky­line GT-R of Jim Richards and Mark Skaife eas­ily won, to the booing and jeer­ing of the tens of thou­sands of V8 pun­ters.

This year’s fes­ti­val at Hamp­ton Downs was to cel­e­brate the his­tory of Bathurst and the great achieve­ments set by many of the driv­ers. It was held on Jan­uary 13 and 14 un­der hot, dry con­di­tions. Sev­eral driv­ers were present to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion, in­clud­ing New Zealand’s own Jim and Steve Richards; Paul Ra­disich; and Aus­tralia’s John Bowe, Al­lan Mof­fat, Fred Gib­son, and John Goss. Sev­eral of them donned their over­alls and hel­mets and were re­united with the cars that they raced in their hey­day.

A walk around the pad­dock re­vealed var­i­ous dif­fer­ent cars from all eras rac­ing and on static dis­play. These in­cluded the 1971 XY Fal­con that two-time Bathurst win­ner John Goss drove to sixth place in the 1971 Bathurst, while on static dis­play in the pavil­ion was the Cop­pins/richards To­rana L34. This car has spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance to New Zealan­ders, as it is the one and only car that a Kiwi team has got onto the podium, at the first of many Bathurst events which Jim Richards con­tested. Two of the Paul Ra­disich Mon­deos — one of which won the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship (BTCC) — were also on hand and be­ing driven by Scott O’don­nell and Paul.

Rac­ing over the two days was the Enzed Cen­tral Mus­cle Cars (CMC) 4Guys Au­to­barn Leg­ends of Bathurst In­vi­ta­tional, which was for Bathurst repli­cas and some gen­uine his­toric tour­ing cars, and fea­tured Jim and Steve Richards, John Bowe, An­gus Fogg, Matos For­mula Li­bre and Sports Cars, and His­toric For­mula Ford. In all, over 100 driv­ers were on the en­try list, which was a pretty good turnout for just five cat­e­gories of rac­ing.

Kick­ing off the rac­ing on Satur­day was Enzed CMC, which had four rac­ing slots over the event. As with all races dur­ing the week­end, there was some very close rac­ing. Try­ing to stop sev­eral tons of me­tal of­ten proved dif­fi­cult in the hot con­di­tions, with tyres quickly over­heat­ing. Greg Hon­nor in a Ford Mustang was the most con­sis­tent, com­ing third in race one, and win­ning race four. His third place from round one meant that he had to start from 24th place in race two, so he was only able to move as high as 13th by the che­quered flag.

The 4Guys Au­to­barn Leg­ends of Bathurst In­vi­ta­tional fea­tured cars of var­i­ous ages and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing an Al­lan Mof­fat replica RX-7, a replica of Pe­ter Brock’s Com­modore, as well as some newer ma­chin­ery — Garry Carter’s Ford V8 su­per­car, and Alan Smith’s Greg Mur­phy / Ja­son Richards

V8 su­per­car. As wasn’t sur­pris­ing, the Ford of Garry Carter won all three races by a mile, in­clud­ing the fea­ture 20-lap race, in which he was paired up with John Bowe — dif­fer­ence: plus-one lap over the BMW of War­wick Mor­timer, who had a slow driver change.

His­toric Tour­ing Cars is one of many classes ex­pe­ri­enc­ing growth at present. It was great see­ing the cars that ac­tu­ally used to race in their premier classes. Jim Richards drove the BMW 635 CSI, which he first raced in 1983 for the Frank Gard­ner Rac­ing team, while his son Steve pi­loted the BMW E30 that had pre­vi­ously been in the hands of Denny Hulme, Paul Ra­disich, and Craig Baird in the New Zealand Cham­pi­onship, and was raced to sev­enth place in the 1987 Bathurst 1000 by Gian­franco Bran­catelli and Johnny Ce­cetto. An­other favourite in this cat­e­gory was the ’97 Volvo 240GT, which John Bowe was re­united with — he raced it around the Mount in ’86. Queens­lan­der Char­lie O’brien won all three races while in charge of a Nis­san Primera su­per tourer.

Into just the sec­ond sea­son, the Matos For­mula Li­bre and Sports Cars class had round two of its three-round se­ries. Race one had David Glas­son in a Juno sports car take the che­quered flag, while sec­ond-place Dean Mc­car­roll — who started from pole — was down to ninth place by the sec­ond lap of the seven laps raced; how­ever, over the course of the re­main­ing laps, he clawed most of the po­si­tions back. As in the first race, the sec­ond was won by David Glas­son, but stal­wart Kenny Smith made an ap­pear­ance in the top three af­ter a good tus­sle with Hamp­ton Downs owner Tony Quinn. The third race, which had Smith take off from pole, soon saw Quinn in his Rey­nard RF94 pass him by, and, from then on, Smith was play­ing catch-up. The dra­matic end to this race saw a pile up of bro­ken me­tal at the Dou­ble Bas­tard cor­ner along with Smith, who ground to a halt on the last lap.

The His­toric For­mula Ford cars was the fi­nal class to race over the week­end. A sur­prise en­trant to the group was Adrian Rey­nard, who was driv­ing — wait for it — a Rey­nard 73FF. Rey­nard dab­bled in For­mula 1 (F1) early on in his ca­reer and was in­volved with the takeover of the Honda Rac­ing F1 team in 2009. His races at Hamp­ton didn’t go as planned, as he was forced to re­tire in lap two of the first race, while he gained sixth in race two and fifth in race three. Martin Lu­cas in the Lo­tus 69 dom­i­nated the first race, lead­ing from start to fin­ish, while Ja­son Lieft­ing won race two when he worked his way up from a fifth-place start. Race three was won by Mal­colm Oastler, af­ter a fight with Lu­cas and Lieft­ing.

To fin­ish off the suc­cess­ful week­end of mo­tor sport, tro­phies were handed out to the win­ners of the var­i­ous classes and to those who made spe­cial con­tri­bu­tions to the week­end, in­clud­ing the His­toric Tour­ing Cars, which re­ceived the How­den Gan­ley Tro­phy for its si­lent achieve­ment in sup­port of the fes­ti­val. The BMW Mo­tor­sport Tro­phy was awarded to Pe­ter Stur­geon, with the ex–jim Richards car, for be­ing the “most sig­nif­i­cant and best pre­sented” BMW Mo­tor­sport car. The fi­nal award — the Chris Amon Tro­phy — was pre­sented by John Bowe to Stephen Arm­strong for his Al­lan Mof­fat RX-7 replica. The ci­ta­tion was for “ex­cep­tional ef­fort and en­deav­our in sup­port of the fes­ti­val”.

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