It’s easy to become complacent but our very own Mount Panorama circuit, just two hour’s drive from Sydney, is firmly up there in the small handful of the world’s truly great circuits. The only problem is that if you’re not a dedicated V8 Supercar fan, there isn’t really a lot of other top-class racing that happens there to attract your attention. Outside of the main game it’s mostly a calendar of club racing and corporate drive days.
That was, however, until the arrival of the Liqui-Molly Bathurst 12hr and its rapidly growing momentum. Finally The Mountain is now graced with a sports car event exploiting the most of its undulating, twisting, climbing and dropping 6.2km of smooth, freshly laid tarmac. An event/circuit combo that attracted 13 top level international teams, building a bumper field of 44 cars.
There have been endurance races for production cars at Bathurst before (notably the 12hr events of the early 90’s and a pair of excellent 24hr races in the early 00’s), but those races never really managed to gain the traction the current 12hr has. That’s probably because of a few factors, the primary of which being that we now have a solid international GT3 class which enables these cars to be raced all over the world under the same rules. That’s a big deal for manufacturers, because the likes of Nismo Japan can build an R35 GTR for Le Mans and also get race mileage (ie promotional value & return on investment) from it in other smaller events. Continue reading →
Last year Any Given Reason visited the workshop of well known Adelaide race car builder Garry Kirk to take a closer look at a Dakar car he was preparing for a customer. We noticed another interesting shape sitting under a car cover in the corner which was Garry’s next customer project – a 1972 LJ XU-1 Torana tarmac rally car. Now that the Torana is nearing completion, Garry invited AGR back to take a closer look at it. I’m not usually a big one for the Torana, but this example is a little different.
Anything with that number of Weber carburettors simply has to be a good thing, you just know it. But the thing that makes this engine really special is the custom head, made by J.Zed. It’s essentially a copy of the Duggan and Irving heads from back in the day, and features a down port inlet and redesigned valves and combustion chambers for increased flow. And the results speak for themselves – this engine recently produced 327hp on the engine dyno. When you take into consideration that the stock car makes 200ish on a good day, and that Brocky’s Bathurst winning car never had any more than about 250, that’s a pretty impressive figure. And a final kerb weight of less than 1000kg makes for an entertaining drive.
That power is sent through to a Tex Racing 101 4 speed Nascar straight cut dog box. With a magnesium casing and small size its extremely light, and given that these boxes are designed to take 750+hp of Nascar V8, it should prove almost indestructible in the Torana. A custom bell housing was needed to mate it to the straight 6 motor. Continue reading →
Even the biggest mysteries of the world have a way of explaining themselves. In a previous post I mused as to why there was a HDT Bathurst Torana sitting on the showroom floor of Adelaide BMW, and as it turns out it was merely there a little early for last night’s Legends Dinner. Any Given Reason reader Tom Gilbert tipped me off (thanks Tom!), and it seems that somebody had the brilliant idea to assemble some of Australia’s most important race cars in the same room as the drivers who drove them, and invite whoever was lucky enough to hold a ticket to have dinner with these automotive and human legends.
Unlike Tom I wasn’t lucky enough to hold a ticket for the dinner, so I did the next best thing – I dropped in for a 730am visit the Sunday morning after in the hope of catching a glimpse of some of these cars. There were a couple of guys from Adelaide BMW cleaning up around the showroom, and they very kindly allowed me to come in and have a look around. The solid lineup of HDT cars was very impressive.
This Torana has lived many lives. It was originally used as a rally car by Colin Bond, and was then transformed into an unbeatable sports sedan and driven by Captain Peter Janson. It’s been restored but a small patch on the roof has been left showing the many historic layers of paint that lay beneath. Does anyone have any more info on this car? Continue reading →
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is a Bathurst liveried Marlboro HDT A9X Torana sitting on the showroom floor of Adelaide BMW.
My knowledge of these cars isn’t deep enough to know if this is the real deal or not, but it looked quite legit to me. The hand welded aluminium drop-tank, basic polished alloy roll cage and period seats all point to this car being genuine, or at least a very good replica. Does anyone else out there have any more info on this car?
If this example is genuine, it is the sister 1979 car to Peter Brock’s famous 05 A9X, the two forming the Holden Dealer Team. It was raced in the ATCC by John Harvey, who was partnered by Ron Harrop at Bathurst that year. Yes, the same Ron Harrop who went on to form the famous Harrop Engineering business.
Number 26 didn’t have the same fortunes as 05 (victory by Brock and Jim Richards) at Bathurst in 1979. It ran as high as second place, but with Harrop behind the wheel the brakes failed on lap 57, sending the Torana heavily into the barriers at XL bend. The wreck was purchased by the HDT paint and panel guy, who restored it back to perfect condition and kept it out of the public eye for the next 30 years.
For my last post from the Australian Grand Prix, I’ll take a look at the historic Group A & C class. It’s worth noting that to participate in this class, the car has to have actual log booked race history. Even though they were racing door-to-door, all of these cars are the real deal and most of them have genuine Bathurst history. There are no replicas here.
In my opinion, these cars are straight from the glory days of Australian touring car racing – the mid to late 1980’s. In the era immediately before the introduction of the V8 Supercar category, the best way to win at Bathurst was to get the fastest car possible from Europe, hire the best gun drivers possible and go for it. It also helped that the Bathurst 1000 was a round of the World Touring Car Championship, so the best teams and drivers from Europe made their way to our humble shores each year. The cars and drivers we dream about today were actually here and racing on Aussie soil. I was born in 1988, so I’m a little bummed that I missed witnessing this era in person. It must have been amazing.
We’re actually very lucky that a lot of these historically important cars are still here. The last three rounds of the WTCC were Bathurst, Calder and Wellington (NZ), so at the end of the year it made financial sense for the teams to sell the cars here, rather than go to the expense of transporting them back to Europe for sale.
There was a huge field at the AGP, so I’ve picked out a few of the cars that I think will be of particular interest. Continue reading →