NZ Classic Driver
JIM RICHARDS AND THE 1973 HEATWAY RALLY
I read with interest the Grant Walker story in NZ Classic Driver (September/October 2020), we knew Grant and his family well through karting when we raced together.
My brother Keith was working with Stan Baird (Craig Baird’s father) at the Glenview Service Station in Hamilton where Stan operated the workshop. Grant rang Keith to see if he would be interested in working on the Dulux Escort that was going to be driven by Jim Richards for the 1973 Heatway Rally. (Keith had served his time at Armstrong Motors/Fairview Ford in Hamilton and Keith owned an Escort Twin Cam at that time). He checked with Stan with regard to a month off work, which was OK, and he went back to Stan after the rally.
What followed was two weeks’ work getting the car ready for the rally and two weeks actually on the rally itself.
Unfortunately, on the first night Jim hit some ice on a corner and in slow motion slid off the road and rolled down a bank. Jim said the first thing that he and his co-driver, Richard Halls, did was to get the car back onto its wheels so as not to lose the oil out of the motor.
Keith and another (Keith couldn’t remember his name) were sent up to the crash site next morning. They climbed down the bank to check out the car; Keith said that apart from the body damage, all the wheels were in the right place and were pointing in the right direction.
The car was pulled up onto the road with the help of a farmer’s large tractor and winch. The car was trucked back into town and checked over. A local panel shop straightened the body enough to be able to fit a new front screen while a plastic sheet was taped up to serve as a rear screen.
Keith was sent on to the rally and Jim caught up later.
Jim went on to record the fastest time on several stages later in the rally. Keith said he really enjoyed the experience but he and the rest of the service crew had never felt so tired; sleep was on the short side.
Later on, Stan and Keith worked together at Fairview Ford. Some time later again, when Stan was service manager at Fairview and Keith was working in the Marine Industry, Stan called Keith to see if he was interested in coming to Fairview in order to set up and run Fairview BMW, which he did. Craig Baird would become Keith’s apprentice but, as they say, that’s another story.
Eric Haddock, via email
Some great shots, Eric – and many thanks to your brother (who now lives in Australia) for sending them over to us. AGW