Thommo is 2015 PI Clas­sic FOS Pa­tron

Shepparton News - Shepparton Car Weekly - - SHEPPARTON CAR WEEKLY -

Bryan Thom­son, one of the en­dur­ing and best­known names of Aus­tralian Tour­ing Cars and Sports Sedan rac­ing in the 1960s to 1980s has agreed to be Pa­tron of the 26th Phillip Is­land Clas­sic Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­sport from March 5–8.

Thommo, who raced the fa­mous Monza Holden and the ex-Bib Stillwell Cooper Cli­max in the early 1960s, made his­tory in 1967 when he and his wife Loel set sail for the United King­dom with the ex-Norm Beechey 1965 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship­win­ning Ford Mus­tang in the hold of the liner Fairstar.

Not only was it the first Mus­tang in the world to win a race and the first to win a na­tional cham­pi­onship in Beechey’s hands, but Thom­son be­came the first Aus­tralian to take a lo­cal tour­ing car rac­ing over­seas.

In the UK and Europe that year he com­peted in an in­cred­i­ble 70 dif­fer­ent events with the re- branded ’Ecurie Shep­par­ton’ Mus­tang — of­ten at two dif­fer­ent race meet­ings the same week­end — tak­ing podium places in 45 races and scor­ing a string of lap records against strong Bri­tish and Euro­pean tour­ing car op­po­si­tion.

Re­turn­ing to Australia broke, Thommo promised Loel a new car, but this tongue-in-cheek of­fer was re­jected when he of­fered to con­vert the rac­ing Mus­tang for road use.

In­stead, he headed to the United States and re­turned with a 1964 and a half notch­back six-cylin­der base-model Mus­tang that he pur­chased for $800 at auc­tion, per­son­ally con­verted to right­hand drive back in Australia and pre­sented to his wife.

That Mus­tang, still largely in its orig­i­nal metal­lic blue patina, will be the Thom­sons’ trans­port to the Phillip Is­land Clas­sic Fes­ti­val this year, where as well as sign­ing au­to­graphs and at­tend­ing the of­fi­cial Clas­sic din­ner, Bryan will join with the ex-Al­lan Mof­fat Tran­sAm and other Mus­tangs in pa­rades of the cir­cuit over the week­end to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the Mus­tang.

“It’s not that ex­cit­ing to drive com­pared with the two other Mus­tangs I have owned,” Thom­son said.

“In its day it was the cheap­est Mus­tang at $2300 that you could buy and it has only a three-speed man­ual gear­box and drum brakes. But it’s a Mus­tang and 50 years on it’s now prob­a­bly a col­lec­tor’s item.”

Af­ter the Beechey Mus­tang Thom­son went on to race a Ca­maro in the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, a fright­en­ing Chev-pow­ered VW Type 3, a Chev-en­gined Mercedes-Benz SLS and fi­nally a Chevy Monza in the Aus­tralian Sports Sedan Cham­pi­onship.

Now a sprightly 80 years of age and re­tired from cir­cuit rac­ing, his mu­seum-like garage in Mel­bourne houses not only the early Mus­tang, but a V12 Jaguar, one of the first Elfin Stream­liner V8 sports cars of the mod­ern Elfin era, a Toy­ota Supra and a large col­lec­tion of on and off-road mo­tor­cy­cles that he thinks noth­ing of rid­ing for up to 10 hours a day.

More than 500 his­toric open wheeler, sports and tour­ing cars span­ning eight decades have en­tered the three-day Phillip Is­land clas­sic meet­ing from March 5–8, which will de­liver a record amount of track time for all com­peti­tors.

Rac­ing will begin on the Fri­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing morn­ing prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing, with each his­toric cat­e­gory en­joy­ing two races on the Satur­day and most tak­ing part in two Sun­day races.

As in pre­vi­ous years, the meet­ing is be­ing staged by the VHRR with con­tin­ued sup­port from Pen­rite, Shan­nons, CoolDrive and Repco.

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