Jobs for Bob

Australian Muscle Car - - Man -

Bob Wat­son’s cir­cuit rac­ing ca­reer was lim­ited to a hand­ful of races but it in­cluded vic­tory in the Sandown pre-Bathurst en­duro and third place in the Great Race it­self. In his day job as an en­gi­neer at Holden he played a piv­otal role in the de­vel­op­ment of the HK Monaro GTS 327, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been one of the pi­o­neer­ing driv­ers in Holden’s early ‘60s covert rally pro­gramme. Along the way he was also Aus­tralian rally cham­pion: in mo­tor­sport, there were few jobs be­yond the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Bob Wat­son.

Bob Wat­son is best known for win­ning the 1970 Aus­tralian Rally Cham­pi­onship at the wheel of a lit­tle Renault R8 Gor­dini. But many for­get that the be­spec­ta­cled Bob started life as a Holden man and, far from be­ing just a rally spe­cial­ist, he has a cou­ple of pretty signi cant cir­cuit rac­ing suc­cesses to his name along­side his rallying achieve­ments. Not only that, but along the jour­ney Wat­son pro­vided some signi cant en­gi­neer­ing in­put into the brand they once called Aus­tralia’s Own.

In 1968, Bob, then a chas­sis de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer at Holden, teamed up with fel­low GMH en­gi­neer Tony Roberts in a Holden Monaro GTS 327 when they en­tered them­selves, in what was re­ally their rst ma­jor mo­tor race, the Sandown 3-Hour, and pro­ceeded to blow away the best spe­cial­ist tour­ing car driv­ers in the coun­try to win the pre-Bathurst en­duro.

It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary start to cir­cuit rac­ing af­ter years of rallying. Three weeks later the Roberts/Wat­son Monaro nished in third in the Hardie Ferodo 500, in the rally duo’s in their rst ever time at Mt Panorama.

For many driv­ers, such early suc­cess in cir­cuit rac­ing would have kicked off a longterm ca­reer on the tar­mac. But not for Bob. He nished the ‘68 Bathurst 500, col­lected his tro­phies and walked away to con­cen­trate on his rst love, rallying.

“It just didn’t turn me on that much,” Bob says of cir­cuit rac­ing. “It was all too repet­i­tive for my lik­ing. Hav­ing said that, I did like the longer dis­tance races and did a few more events in the ‘70s with Brian ‘Brique’ Reed, Roger Bon­homme and Lawrie Nel­son, but it was al­ways rallying for me.

“The thing about rallying is work­ing out ev­ery cor­ner for your­self, and even more so at night when we used to do all our, rallying.”

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