Q&A

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

AMC: Did you have a good re­la­tion­ship with the Geoge­hgans?

John Shep­pard: Yeah, Pete was my mate, and we got on bet­ter and re­lated bet­ter. Leo was a lit­tle more aloof, a bit up him­self! Even­tu­ally Tom and I got to be quite good friends, but in the rst place I thought he was an old oaf, but he was clever, and a lovely old bloke too.

AMC: Who do you think was bet­ter out of Pete and Leo?

JS: I don’t, to be hon­est. For some­one so clever, Pete was very hum­ble. Leo was more pompous, but he could drive re­ally, re­ally quickly. He had to train him­self a bit whereas Pete would just hop in the car and go for it.

Pete used to amaze me. He’d go out and do one warm-up lap, one fast lap and put it away. As Tom would say, ‘It’s not a trot­ter, bud, you don’t have to train it!’ If there was some­thing wrong, Pete would just drive around it. It was the same with Brock – you couldn’t let him tell you what to do. He could be a bone­head! Pete said to me one day, ‘I won’t tell you how to pre­pare the cars if you don’t tell me how to drive them!’ I said, ‘I like it!’ But Brock used to come in and make pro­found state­ments, and I thought, ‘Brock, you’ve got no idea what you’re talk­ing about.’

AMC: Would you com­pare Pete Geoghe­gan and Brock as equally nat­u­rally gifted or one more than the other?

JS: Af­ter we won the Hardie Ferodo in 1978 or ’79, Evan Green said, ‘Well, John, Peter Brock would be the best driver you’ve ever been in­volved with?’ I looked down and Pete’s sit­ting at the ta­ble right in front of me… Brock was crook on me for not say­ing he was the best driver in the uni­verse, but I just couldn’t bring my­self to say that he was bet­ter than Pete. And I don’t know if he was, to be hon­est. In their hey­day I would hate to be the one try­ing to choose.

AMC: What was Bob Jane like as a driver?

JS: He was good. He had so many other things go­ing on in his head, but he was able to think when he ap­plied him­self to the job. The rough edges of when he used to drive like a nut were gone. He was quite a com­pe­tent driver; I don’t know if you’d say he was bril­liant.

AMC: How did the To­rana-Repco come about?

JS: Bob is an ideas man. He would have hun­dreds of ideas a day, and maybe three would be any good. One day he said, ‘I want to build a Sports Sedan, and I’ve got a Repco en­gine over there.’ Next thing they de­liver a brand spank­ing new XU-1 To­rana to my house – here, make a Sports Sedan out of that!

AMC: Why did you build it at home? Why not at the race shop?

JS: I think Bob just wanted to have this lit­tle project and have it hap­pen in se­cret. I just hap­pened to have a two-car garage with only one car.

AMC: What was the high­light of the 1978-79 Holden Dealer Team pe­riod for you?

JS: I think when we started mak­ing our own new cars – proper-look­ing cars with new body shells and stuff – that were pro­fes­sion­al­look­ing cars.

AMC: Why were you so against the Round Aus­tralia Trial?

JS: I just thought it was a dis­trac­tion, and all the feed­back I was get­ting from the blokes (at Holden) was, ‘You don’t want to get too in­volved with this be­cause they’re all go­ing to break down!’ But they didn’t be­cause Ge­orge (Shep­heard) had every­thing set up so well.

AMC: What’s your phi­los­o­phy on race prepa­ra­tion?

JS: Stir­ling Moss’s me­chanic said the thing that makes a good race me­chanic is know­ing what to waste his time on. Peo­ple do things you don’t need to do. To be a good me­chanic, you’ve got to be ba­sic and don’t mess with stuff. Peo­ple used to say they were amazed we’d do a car and it would win rst time out, and I’d be like, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it?’ Why should you go through a year xing all the things you did wrong in the rst place?

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