Jobs for Bob
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.”