The big time

Australian Muscle Car - - Man -

David McKay had re­tired from front­line rac­ing in early 1963 and was on the look­out for a young suc­ces­sor. Martin tted the bill, but had to serve his ap­pren­tice­ship. His rst out­ing was the in­au­gu­ral Bathurst 500, paired with the ex­pe­ri­enced Brian Muir in an EH Holden S4 (see over­leaf).

Then came a brush with rac­ing roy­alty, as Martin then span­nered for World Cham­pion Gra­ham Hill in the Scud­e­ria’s Brab­ham BT4 dur­ing the 1964 Tas­man cham­pi­onship.

The car­rot was a drive in the Brab­ham, with Martin’s rst ma­jor meet­ing be­ing the Bathurst Easter meet­ing where he nished sec­ond to Frank Matich in the For­mula Li­bre fea­ture race. How­ever, the Brab­ham was soon sold, its BT11A re­place­ment wouldn’t ar­rive un­til the end of the year, along with an­other team car that would elec­trify the rac­ing scene – the fab­u­lous Fer­rari LM250. Both Scud­e­ria Ve­loce’s new cars would de­but in the 1965 Tas­man. A re­turn­ing Gra­ham Hill would pi­lot the Brab­ham and the ‘boy’, as McKay de­scribed him, raced the Fer­rari in the Tas­man sup­port races de­spite protests from Hill. The heavy Fer­rari was more suited to en­durance races like the Le Mans 24 Hour event it had pre­vi­ously con­tested than ve-lap sprints, but Martin was able to ex­tract the best out of the Ital­ian stal­lion. In the Gold Star he won the Lake­side round in the Brab­ham and nished third in the cham­pi­onship. In the 1966 Tas­man, he com­peted in all rounds as the lead­ing res­i­dent Aus­tralian. His best re­sult was third at Levin, al­though the New Zealand Grand Prix was an­other high­light.

“I quali ed on the front row with Gra­ham Hill and Jim Clark. Jackie Stewart and Frank Gard­ner were be­hind me on the sec­ond row,” he re­mem­bers. “But I was out of my depth. I had the speed but David (McKay) should have told me to let those guys go and run my own race. In­stead I took off like a scalded cat and was lead­ing af­ter the rst lap. It was buck­et­ing down and I aqua­planed on the back straight and went off. David thought that I had ar­rived, but I learnt the hard way.”

All was not well within Scud­e­ria Ve­loce and with McKay (see ‘Three Kings’ break­out), with Martin leav­ing the team af­ter the 1966 Tas­man. As a Shell-spon­sored driver, his op­tions were limited. His only choice was to drive for Bob Jane, which meant moving to Mel­bourne. Equipped with the same Brab­ham he raced for McKay, and with ace Jane mechanic John Sawyer, Martin would achieve his rac­ing am­bi­tion by win­ning the Aus­tralian Drivers’ Cham­pi­onship in 1966 with

three round wins. He re­peated the ti­tle-win­ning feat the fol­low­ing year, al­beit scor­ing one less win. He was the rst driver in his twen­ties to win the cov­eted Gold Star and the rst hired gun.

Martin, dur­ing his time with Bob Jane Rac­ing, raced all of Bob’s toys with dis­tinc­tion. There was the Jaguar Light­weight E Type in which he beat his old Fer­rari 250LM at War­wick Farm, the fear­some El n 400 Repco and the Lo­tus Cortina.

You would think that a dual and reign­ing Gold Star win­ner at the ripe old age of 28 would have the world at his feat. How­ever, at the end of 1967 Martin an­nounced his re­tire­ment from front­line rac­ing, even skip­ping the nal Gold Star round at War­wick Farm.

“I told Bob ‘I’m out,’” re­mem­bers Martin. “I’d proved a point, but I didn’t have a cracker to my Far left: Spencer Martin worked as Gra­ham Hill’s mechanic in the ‘64 Tas­man Cup; driv­ing David McKay’s Fer­rari 250LM at Bathurst (cen­tre); and Bob Jane’s Cortina at War­wick Farm (above). name. I was get­ting mar­ried the fol­low­ing year and I had to do some­thing. I bought a truck­ing busi­ness and my fa­ther went guar­an­tor. I no longer cared about rac­ing.”

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