The evening news services (and indeed the 24 hour news cycle we live in) these days seems to be constantly lled with terrible, depressingly sad stories of tragedies and disasters that underline the very worst of people in society.
Gladly, though, there’s some slithers of sunshine that shine through the cracks, but this is somewhat the minority of content rather than the majority.
The online world, one in which I am engaged for reasons including the nature of my work and business, is packed full of negativity and spewing with vile, outrage and insults at a minute’s notice. It’s easy to get sucked into this and stamp your feet and furiously hit the keyboard to send out a few jabs of your own.
Sometimes the words I, and indeed the team from my V8 Sleuth office, have penned in
Australian Muscle Car magazine’s pages have generated bitter disagreement, spirited debate, glowing praise (yes true!) and everywhere in between, including some ‘keyboard warrior’ grumbling that got out of hand and was, frankly, distasteful.
But, in direct contrast with all of the negativity out there in the world, I want to tell you a story of good, not evil, all achieved via the pages of
AMC magazine in recent times. It’s one that really does make you feel great to be part of this local motorsport industry.
Sometime ago I came into contact with a Kiwi named Rodney Heads, who had acquired an ex-Lansvale Commodore VL Group A car and was embarking on a project to restore it to its 1988 fuel-injected ‘Walkinshaw’ Bathurst speci cation and livery. As you will have read in the news pages of the last issue in a story by V8 Sleuth reporter Dylan Gulson, this work has very nearly been completed and the car is back in the familiar yellow colours as carried by popular Sydney privateers Trevor Ashby and Steve Reed.
The story in the last AMC prompted former Lansvale team manager Ron Gillard to get in touch. He told us he had come across a log book for that very car while sifting through some old papers recently from those ‘Ashby/Reed’ days. Quite simply, he said, the log book needed to be in the same place as the car itself and he’d like to see it reunited with the V8-powered machine that did the on-track work relating to the date and circuit entries within its pages. This was indeed a noble gesture. But there was one problem… The log book he had was not for this particular car, given Heads already has in his possession the log book that details all of his car’s racing history from the time it was wheeled out as a carburetor-engined VL in late 1987 to its nal Bathurst 1000 start in the hands of Greg Fahey and Denis Cribbin in 1994.
After a quick consultation ‘across the ditch’ with Heads, I picked up the phone for a further chat with Gillard. After all, if the log book he was looking at wasn’t for the car in New Zealand, then what the hell was it for?!
As Ron started running through some of the dates and tracks listed in the book in front of him it became clear that he was in fact looking at a log book relating to the ex-Perkins Commodore VL that the Lansvale team later had purchased from the late Llynden Reithmuller in 1990 and ran at Bathurst that year before using components from it for their new VN Commodore.
The VL from which the parts had been plucked for the new VN was restored over time by owner Glen Featherstone back to its 1988 carby-spec and Perkins/HSV livery as carried in that year’s Australian Touring Car Championship, making its re-appearance on the track in Group A historics at Muscle Car Masters four years ago.
It’s been a while since I had spoken with Glen so I placed a very quick email along the lines of ‘have a lead on your log book, give me a call’.
Now, any car owner that has experienced the anguish of purchasing, restoring or certifying to race a car only to discover its original log book has been destroyed, misplaced or no longer exist for any other reason, will understand the extra hurdles that adds to the process. They aren’t insurmountable hurdles, but nevertheless an added step in the journey.
So it was with great excitement a call came back on the mobile from Glen.
“I’d given up the chase on that log book,” he said, his voice almost hushed in a tone that sounded like he was trying not to get his hopes up too much, fearful of there having been a mistake and indeed the log book for his car would remain elusive. But there was no mistake. The CAMS log book, that little booklet of scribbles, numbers, names, dates and track names, was most de nitely for his very car with a catch-up quickly arranged for collection from Gillard’s base in Ballina, New South Wales.
Sometimes you never know where things are going to lead in life. My contact with a Kiwi bloke 18 months ago with an old Commodore that started its life in Sydney 31 years ago has helped set off a chain of events and connections that led to an elusive log book being reunited with its car’s, it must be said, chuffed, owner.
It’s situations like these and connecting the dots that keep fuelling my love of motorsport and its people.
No matter how much negativity is out there in the broader world or within our ‘petrol head postcode’, it’s stories like these that put a pep in your step. I wanted to share it with you all to hopefully put some of that pep in your step too.
Just another day in the life of the V8 Sleuth and AMC magazine…