Torque

Australian Muscle Car - - Woman -

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.”

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