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?