1974

Wheels (Australia) - - Falcon Motorsport -

WHO:

JOHN GOSS/KEVIN BARTLETT

WHAT:

HOLDEN SHOULD HAVE CRUSHED THE THREE PRI­VATE FAL­CONS. ONE GT SUR­VIVED. AND WON.

WHEN:

OC­TO­BER 1974, MOUNT PANORAMA

WHY IT’S UN­FOR­GET­TABLE:

DRENCHING RAIN, A MURKY SKY, A LONE SUR­VIV­ING FAL­CON UP FRONT WITH A FAST HOLDEN ON THE HUNT… AS DARK­NESS de­scended rapidly and the laps ran out in the rain-sat­u­rated 1974 Bathurst race, the lead­ing Fal­con GT driven by Kevin Bartlett was in sight of an im­prob­a­ble vic­tory. But catch­ing Bartlett rapidly was the Holden To­rana of Bob Forbes.

Set­ting the scene, Ford had with­drawn from rac­ing be­fore that sea­son be­gan, and so just three pri­va­teer op­ti­mists – Al­lan Mof­fat, Mur­ray Carter and John Goss – turned up with Fal­con GTS for the 1974 Bathurst punch-up. They were up against a Holden ar­mada led by the mighty fac­tory Holden Dealer Team.

Goss, a lo­qua­cious lime­light-lov­ing Tas­ma­nian with lots of tal­ent and self-be­lief, chose the brave open-wheel star Bartlett to co-drive, even though KB was still re­cov­er­ing from se­ri­ous leg in­juries from a mas­sive For­mula 5000 shunt early in the year.

Pole win­ner Peter Brock had opened an amaz­ing six-lap lead in the new HDT L34 be­fore en­gine fail­ure ended his race.

The Mof­fat and Carter ma­chines were silent by mid-race, leav­ing the Goss/bartlett GT as the only sur­viv­ing Fal­con.

Then it started to driz­zle. Goss (and oth­ers) were scram­bling to stay on the track.

Bartlett re­mem­bers: “Mof­fat was out of con­tention, so with his mind on help­ing Ford, he of­fered us a set of Goodyear wets. Proper wets, not the grooved dry Bridge­stone rub­ber like we had.” It was a cru­cial, race-win­ning call. With rain belt­ing down and cars crash­ing reg­u­larly, the race evolved into a scrap among gen­uine pri­va­teers in the most treach­er­ous con­di­tions. Goss/bartlett ver­sus Forbes/wayne Ne­gus.

“It was hor­rific,” says Bartlett, not an easy man to frighten. “Wa­ter was stream­ing across the track in about 15 places. I was con­cen­trat­ing so hard. The wipers were lift­ing off the screen on the straights, and a few times I had to loosen the belts to reach for­ward to wipe the mist off the glass.

“But I had good tyres and I think the long wheel­base of the Fal­con was an as­set on the slip­pery track.”

The murky film noir semi-dark­ness only added to the dra­matic fin­ish as Forbes’ To­rana closed to within nine sec­onds be­fore Bartlett/goss took a brave win in the wettest Bathurst race held un­til then.

“IT WAS HOR­RIFIC; WA­TER WAS STREAM­ING ACROSS THE TRACK IN ABOUT 15 PLACES”

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