Stormin’ with Nor­man

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

On re­turn­ing to Mel­bourne, Shep­pard was hired by Norm Beechey, who’d been hav­ing a ter­ri­ble time tam­ing his new Holden Monaro GTS 327. Shep­pard xed the car, made it re­li­able, and Beechey went on an amaz­ing win­ning streak.

“I just did all the things you do, like mov­ing the en­gine down and all that sort of stuff, and it wasn’t a bad car in the nish. Norm didn’t re­ally nd it nec­es­sary to win be­cause he could make won­der­ful PR out of com­ing sec­ond, but he ac­tu­ally won 13 races in a row with that car. He even beat Pete at War­wick Farm, which was some­thing.

“But I ran out of en­thu­si­asm for be­ing around Norm any­more, so I just wan­dered off. He was a strange man, but quite a good driver. He used to say, ‘Sheppo, I don’t worry about lines around cor­ners, I just come up and sur­round the bend,’ but he was a far bet­ter driver than a lot of peo­ple gave him credit for.”

As an ex­am­ple of what Beechey was like, Shep­pard tells of the lead-up to the 1969 ATCC, which kicked off at Calder. In pri­vate prac­tice Norm lapped con­sis­tently well un­der the lap record, but couldn’t leave the car alone and had Shep­pard in­stall a camshaft he’d got from the US with the caveat of ‘be care­ful if you’re go­ing to use it.’ Sure enough, the en­gine failed in qual­i­fy­ing and Shep­pard went home, leav­ing Beechey and friend Peter Lewis-Wil­liams to x the en­gine. In the race the en­gine failed again, be­cause the valves were still hit­ting the pis­tons.

“That was his men­tal­ity, you know – he just couldn’t be sta­ble enough to sit on his lau­rels. That just made me think, ‘What’s the point of talk­ing to you’, be­cause we’d just spoiled the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to win a tour­ing car cham­pi­onship.”

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