Australian Muscle Car - - Mod­ern Mus­cle -

turned up late in an old greasy shirt. Rod Troon, Shell’s ad­ver­tis­ing man­ager, who had so much style, said ‘Get some­one else.’”

Norm got Jim McKe­own. That year, 1964, Norm fin­ished sec­ond to Pete Geoghe­gan in the ATCC by just 1.2 sec­onds.

The Geoghe­gan-Beechey ri­valry was ev­ery bit as in­tense as Brock-Mof­fat, and bet­ter in his mind than the chal­lenge he got from ei­ther Jane or Mof­fat. “Both des­per­ate and dan­ger­ous. You look in your rearview mir­ror and steady your­self for the im­pact.”

“Geoghe­gan was fast and safe… the best,” Beechey said with ob­vi­ous re­spect. “On de­but at Bathurst in 1966 I came over the sec­ond hump on Con­rod and got air un­der the Chevy Nova at 167mph and it lifted off the deck. Pete just looked across and went, ‘Whoa.’”

Much later at Calder, Beechey held the Monaro in third and beat Pete in a drag to the flag. The tacho tell-tale in a pic­ture he hands me shows 9200rpm. In an­other pic­ture Pete’s hands are off the wheel in the air. ‘What do I have to do to beat you’ he seems to be say­ing.

In 1964 Norm sold a Hill­man Imp to the woman who worked for drag rac­ing leg­end Larry ‘The Big O’ Ormsby, who owned the brake busi­ness next door. Her stun­ning 18-year-old daugh­ter picked it up and Norm and Mar­garet have now been to­gether for more than half a cen­tury.

“Norm was 32; there was a big age gap,” Mar­garet laughs. “The stand­ing joke was: Are you go­ing to marry her or adopt her?”

Mar­garet be­came ar­guably Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport’s first high-pro­file part­ner, al­though you’d ques­tion whether the ac­co­lade should go to Diana Dav­i­son. Half a decade be­fore Pauline Mof­fat as­sumed the role, Marg was the one in the glam­our gear – the miniskirts and the Carn­aby Street leather. And she al­ways wore a hat – a dif­fer­ent one at each race meet­ing.

“Al­lan Hors­ley (pro­moter at Hume Weir and then Oran Park) used to burn them,” she said. “It was a tra­di­tion. At the end of each race meet­ing at the af­ter party he’d seize my hat, douse it in petrol and set fire to it.”

Con­tacts count – as does luck. Norm won the ’65 Tour­ing Car ti­tle in the newly-re­leased Ford Mus­tang. It was the car he knew he needed for the job. But how to get one? “On Sat­ur­day nights, af­ter a big day’s trad­ing on the lot, we’d go to an up­mar­ket restau­rant in Toorak run by an Amer­i­can. He was very good to us.” Norm said. “We were talk­ing about the Mus­tang and he said ‘Do you want to meet some­one from Ford?’ He walked me to a ta­ble and in­tro­duced me to Bill Bourke, head of Ford Aus­tralia and later to be one of the top guns in Dear­born. Bourke wrote me a let­ter of in­tro­duc­tion to the States and it was only that let­ter that let me jump the queue to get a race car for ’65.”

To this day Beechey is the only driver to have driven for the big three brands in Aus­tralia – Ford, Holden and Chrysler – while they were still in busi­ness and he was still a dealer, all si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

His deals were ex­cep­tional and he was al­ways work­ing: $10,000 to do ap­pear­ance work for BF Goodrich even though they didn’t have a race tyre and he didn’t drive on them, not a cent to drive a Hill­man Imp in hill­climbs to pro­mote the slow sell­ing model. But he was a dealer, af­ter all.

“One of the guys from Rootes (Chrysler) asked me to ease off on the long ex­pen­sive lunches I was rack­ing up with their PR guy in Mel­bourne, Peter Jan­son. That sur­prised me. We’d never been to lunch.”

His Holden Monaro years – which fol­lowed spend­ing 1966 through ’68 in a Chev Nova then a Ca­maro SS – were the swan­song. “When you drive a Holden you have the fans in the palm of your hand,” he says.

In 1969, with a car he de­signed and built with the bril­liant Lou Mal­lia, he was piv­otal in Pete Geoghe­gan win­ning the Cham­pi­onship. In an ail­ing HK Monaro he held out Alan Hamil­ton (Porsche 911) to win the last and de­cid­ing race, giv­ing Pete the ti­tle vic­tory by one point. If Hamil­ton had got­ten by he would have won. “I didn’t know,” Norm says. “But it wouldn’t have mat­tered. You race for your­self not for the oth­ers. Maybe if they’d of­fered me fif­teen grand... Do you be­lieve that?” he chal­lenges.

In 1970 he won the ti­tle with the leg­endary HT GTS 350.

“That year we put the busi­ness on hold and con­cen­trated on rac­ing, but it was barely enough. You’d get to a cir­cuit on Thurs­day to prac­tice and find Mof­fat had been there since Mon­day. There was a new pro­fes­sion­al­ism com­ing. I was ap­proach­ing 40 and I had to con­cen­trate on busi­ness. Con­tin­u­ing mo­tor rac­ing was never even in my mind.”

You want to know where Norm’s head was at?

Above: Beechey tends to be per­ceived as a Holden star but he also en­joyed suc­cess in Fords, Chevs and Chryslers. He was a Pacer and Charger com­peti­tor dur­ing the early 1970s Se­ries Pro­duc­tion era. Right: Norm and Mar­garet Beechey with the re­stored...

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