Rare Spares Top Five Bathurst 1000 Races

Motorsport in Australia, as a topic of conversation, is one that’s up there with like/dislike Ricky Gervais, should pineapple be on a pizza, is Peter Helliar actually funny, for dividing people’s opinion. Who’s the greatest driver, was the 1978 Torana the best car, which was the greatest of the great races at Bathurst? Given the history of the yearly event that is “Bathurst”, pinning down a top five most exciting races from over fifty races is always going to be fraught with danger. We don’t expect our list to be yours. But we would love to know what you think your top five are. [More]

A brief history of Formula Ford in Australia

Motorsport started a few weeks after the first bunch of cars rolled off the production line. Two blokes looked at each other over a beer at the pub and simultaneously said “I’ll race ya!”. Bare seconds after they started racing they crashed. Again, they looked at each other and said: “ We don’t know how to race!” Yes, that statement is essentially a bald faced giggle but you get the idea. That’s where categories that are seen as feeders into the big ones, like Formula 1, come into play. Step up, Formula Ford. The cars are “simple”. Open wheeler, no wings, a tiny tub for the driver to lever themselves into and out of, and a basic four cylinder engine. Then there’s the organic component. It’s proven to be an ideal combination and here in Australia many, many, drivers in Formula Ford have gone on to compete in the top tier categories. Formula Ford in Australia celebrates fifty years of the small cars pounding out thousands of kilometres worth of track time this year. The category itself was born in the UK just two years before. It was at Sandown, the famous Melbourne based circuit, that stakes its claim as the first track to see FF cars duke it out.  A national series was first put forward to drivers in 1970 but it wasn’t until 1993 that the Confederation of Australian Motorsport awarded it their official status to make it known as the Australian Formula Ford Championship. Formula Ford has been raced at a state level too, with the majority of the cars using the “Kent” engine. This is an iron, not alloy, block engine. The origins of this go back to 1959. It’s also opened doors for chassis manufacturers. Companies such as Van Dieman, Lola, Elfin, and Mawer have designed cars to fit within the FF guidelines. Along the way, Formula Ford builds into drivers a knowledge of racecraft. There are aspects of engineering that are taught, chassis setup, and the technicalities of tyre pressure for the racing conditions. It’s these kind of aspects that teams use to expect feedback from a driver to enhance a car’s setup. In 1971 a young chap called Larry won the championship, and would be sent to Europe to race. The Formula Ford Driver to Europe series would see Mr Perkins make his way into V8 Supercars and build his own engineering business. He can see his name alongside Mark Webber as racing in Formula 1 thanks to  being involved in Formula Ford. Names such as Mark Larkham, Russell Ingall, and Cameron McConville head to the bright lights, whilst locally Leanne Ferrier, aka Leanne Tander, Garth Tander, and Jamie Whincup would become the big names in this talent driven category. Formula Ford hasn’t run without hiccups though. CAMS effectively discontinued their support for Formula Ford in 2013 however the category did run a national series after and continues to do so.  Have you ever driven a Formula Ford car? Or do you have any memories of big name drivers racing the tiny open wheelers? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us all about it in the comment section below this article! 

1979 Bathurst Re-cap

In the lead up to this year’s Bathurst 1000, Rare Spares are taking a look back at some of the most memorable Bathurst’s in history. We kicked things off with a look at the 1992 Bathurst 1000, which you can read about here. In this second installment, we will be re-capping the 1979 Hardie Ferodo 1000, an event that typifies the legend of the late great, Peter Brock. Peter Brock, 34 at the time with three Bathurst victories under his belt, was partnered with New Zealander Jim Richards and the all-conquering A9X Torana. Coming off a second place finish in the 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship, Brock and co-driver Richards were undoubtedly favourites for the big race. After dominating practice, qualifying and the Hardies Heroes Top Ten Shootout to the tune of a 2 second victory, Brock started the race from the front of the grid. With the likes of Larry Perkins, Allan Grice, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson and Bob Morris fronting the starter some were predicting it mightn’t be the walk in the park that many thought was a guaranteed. Well any doubters were silenced almost immediately with Brock pulling out to a 5 second lead within the first lap. Brock dominated the first 2 hours of proceedings before pitting for fuel and allowing Richards to jump behind the wheel of the mighty Torana. The domination continued throughout Richards’ stint, who performed the role of a model co-driver by running fast, clean laps before handing the car back over to Brock to bring it home. The final stint of the race has gone down in racing folklore. Brock continued to run rings around the field, eventually taking the chequered flag some six laps ahead of the competition, even managing to break the circuit lap record on the final lap of the race!  The Torana domination wasn’t confined to the top step of the podium either, with the next seven, yes you read that correctly, seven positions also occupied by Toranas! After the race Brock described the race as “An absolute dream run for us. From the word go the car was really on the ball and we drove it fast all day. We didn’t have to slow down for any reason.” Of course, Brocky would go on to win five more Bathurst’s and the 24hour race in 2003, making him the most successful racer at the mountain, it is this race though that is remembered as one of his best. Which year at Bathurst should we re-cap next? Do you have a favourite Bathurst memory? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.