Hey Charger?

Australian Muscle Car - - Maniac -

Else­where in this is­sue we re­call Ama­roo Park’s ear­li­est AMSCAR Se­ries, run from 1979 at the rus­tic Syd­ney track. It’s a tting way to mark the much-loved venue that closed down in Au­gust 1998, the 20th an­niver­sary of which falls while this is­sue sits on news­stands.

That in­au­gu­ral AMSCAR Se­ries at­tracted all the ma­jor play­ers on the tour­ing car scene at that time, with the ex­cep­tion of the HDT. It also at­tracted at least one un­likely en­trant...

By 1979 Chrysler’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in tour­ing car rac­ing was a fad­ing mem­ory. It had ex­ited the sport as long ago as 1972 – six years had passed since the last Charger started at Bathurst. But there was a Charger in the ’79 AMSCAR Se­ries. Lo­cal club racer Jeff Hen­ley-Smith, per­haps notic­ing that his or­ange Group C Charger E49 was as quick around Ama­roo as the slow­est quali ers in the open­ing AMSCAR round, de­cided to give it a go. Sure enough, while the big 4.3-litre six was never a se­ri­ous con­tender against its much newer V8 op­po­si­tion, it was fast enough to run with the pack and not get left be­hind. On more than one oc­ca­sion Hen­ley-Smith man­aged to get the old Charger ahead of the odd Fal­con XC or To­rana A9X – in qual­i­fy­ing and the races.

It looks pos­i­tively out-dated in pho­to­graphs, but that only adds to the AMSCAR Se­ries’ charm in giv­ing un­her­alded pri­va­teers the chance to shine and race against the big­gest names in rac­ing. Good on him for hav­ing a crack.

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