Sue Ransom played a pivotal role in the establishment of the iconic ABC TV motoring programme, Torque, which ran from 1974 to 1980. As it happened, the rookie producer charged with the task of delivering the ABC’s new car show was an old school friend of Ransom. As Ransom was the only ‘car person’ the producer knew, she sought her help in planning the show. Out of that, Ransom suggested Peter Wherrett as host.
Ransom herself was reluctantly roped in as co-host but she eagerly bowed out at the end of the rst series. For Ransom, a selfdescribed shy, backroom type, fronting Torque was an awkward experience on many levels.
“Wherrett would have a car for three weeks, and then I’d get a call from him: ‘We’re out at Amaroo Park, can you be here in 30 minutes?’ That was for me to do my review of the car – review a car for ve minutes and then talk about it in front of a camera. I didn’t really care anyway, because I didn’t want to do it – but it was embarrassing.”
Some good did come out of the show, though. It was through Torque that Ransom ended up with a deal to race a Formula 2 car – which was also how she met her future partner, Richard Cousins. At the time Cousins
was managing John Leffler’s F2 Bowin team. They got a call from the show’s producer, who wanted to feature a road test of a racing car using their female co-host.
Cousins: “We insisted on them insuring the car before we let anyone drive it. The policy premium was a ridiculous amount of money and so I thought that’d be the end of it, but later they called back telling us they’ve got the insurance policy and are ready to go.
“By then we’d really sorted the F2 car out and John was under the lap record. We go out to Oran Park and John does a set-up lap, and then Sue does a few laps, then comes in for a chat with John about the car, etc, and then she goes out for another four laps – and she’s on the lap record! And she’s not even on new tyres! We’re all there going, ‘Who is this bird?!’”
“That’s when Richard became my team manager,” Ransom says, “and he’s been bossing me around ever since!”
A lack of funding meant it didn’t go beyond two race meetings in the Bowin, but at Wanneroo Ransom did claim a race win in her rst open-wheeler start.
The Bird Cage Escort’s demise more or less also ended Ransom’s rally career. For ’75, apart the handful of F2 races, there was only Bathurst. That year Ransom and Bill Brown made it the
rst husband-and-wife pairing in the Great Race. The car was a Ford Escort twin-cam supplied by Sydney Ford dealer, Jubilee Ford. Ransom doesn’t remember much about the race except the Escort was ‘pretty much stock standard.’ They ended up 11th outright, fourth in class.
Cousins was team manager, and as a former driver (he is famous for surviving a horrendous crash in a Mini at Oran Park. Photos show the Mini rolling, mid-air, with Cousins’ body completely outside the car, suspended by the seat belt), he was able to observe the relative qualities of the two drivers.
“From managing the team, I learned that Sue is a natural driver, and so is Bill. The difference is that Sue could come in and relate what the car was doing, so we could set it up properly. Bill just drove around any problem it had – and was bloody fast.”