Five Close Motorsport Finishes

Parity has become an increasing focus across almost all forms of motorsports in recent years, however close races are still few and far between. As motoring enthusiasts there’s not much we love more than watching two drivers go toe-to-toe over the distance of a race with the end result coming down to the thousandth of a second. In this week’s blog we’ll take a look back at a few of the closest and most memorable motorsport finishes in history.

1986 Spanish Formula 1 GP

In a race between two of racing’s most famous and well respected racers Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, the end result will be remembered as one of the closest in the history of Formula 1. Mansell elected to pit in the closing stages of the race for fresh tyres while Senna elected to stay out on older, worn out rubber. Mansell took increasingly bigger chunks out of the late Brazilian’s lead as the race wore on; eventually falling only 0.014 seconds short of victory after Senna successfully covered his lines in the final corners.

2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400

The 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 came down to the wire between eventual winner Ricky Craven and the hot-headed Kurt Busch. As the two cars approached the line the two traded paint, with Craven eventually holding of Busch by 0.002 seconds at “The Track Too Tough To Tame.” Subsequently, the race was voted as the best NASCAR race of the decade by members of NASCAR Media.

2013 Freedom 100

Commentators at the time were calling it the greatest finish in the history of the Indianapolis Raceway, as four drivers from the IndyCar support category; Peter Dempsey, Gabby Chavez, Carlos Manoz and Sage Karam went toe-to-toe on the final lap. The resulting finish looks as though it had been staged as the drivers finished four-wide with Dempsey making a last straight dash from fourth to first. The final result; first and second were separated by 0.0026 seconds, with the gap to fourth totaling 0.0443 seconds.

2006 Portuguese MotoGP

2006 was an interesting year for Moto GP, as multi-time world champion struggled with an unreliable bike and struggled to reach the lofty heights of seasons past. This left the late Nicky Hayden to take out the championship under thrilling circumstances. In hindsight the Portuguese GP would prove to be the race that potentially cost Rossi the championship as a hard charging Toni Elias came from way back to snatch victory by 0.0002 seconds.

2016 NHRA Summit Southern Nationals

This race went about as close as you could get to a dead-heat, with NHRA Top Fuel Drag racers Doug Kalitta beating teammate JR Smith by a miniscule 0.0001 seconds, or about an inch. You would be forgiven for thinking that results like this are a foregone conclusion in drag racing, with similar cars racing over such a short distance. However, the more you watch top level drag racing, the more you realise that the chances of both cars having a perfectly clean run are slim to none. This race truly was an impressive spectacle.

Do you know of any other close racing finishes? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about your favourites in the comments section below.

Demolition Derby – Taking a look at the Winton TCM Crash

Back in May at the Winton SuperSprint, motorsport fans witnessed one of the bigger crashes in the history of the Touring Car Masters series. At Rare Spares, we love watching our favourite cars of yesteryear wind back the clock and hit the track in earnest. However, we can’t help but cringe a little when we see these beauties on the back of a truck being towed back to the pits in a crumpled mess! But, it is motorsport and we all know the risks when hitting the track, so in this article we’ll take a quick look at the incident, who was involved and what has gone into getting these masterpieces back on the track.

Qualifying at Winton couldn’t have gone much better for Jason Gomersall who was able to place his Big Mate A9X Torana on pole for race 2, declaring it his greatest achievement in motorsport. The team was understandably stoked with the achievement, beating out racing legend John Bowe by mere two-one hundredths of a second. Unfortunately for Gomersall, the weekend became unforgettable for all the wrong reasons less than 24 hours later. Gomersall was off to a cracking start to the race, clearing his competition and heading into turn 2 with the track to himself. From here it all went pear shaped though, losing the rear end of the beautiful Torana he span in front of the oncoming field. What came next can be best described as complete and utter chaos.

Gomersall span into the path of Eddie Abelnica and his XB Falcon before being collected by Mark King’s Camaro leaving both cars with very heavy front end damage. The ensuing pack had nowhere to go, with a number of cars finding each other or the surrounding walls. John Bowe was also caught up in the incident, resulting in a few broken ribs and a short stint in hospital. When all was said and done, seven cars were involved in the incident and the race was suspended.

With a short turnaround to the Darwin round, many teams faced an uphill battle to get their cars back in racing condition. Gomersall’s Torana sustained extensive damage to the front cross member, steering rack and radiator, however the engine was largely undamaged and the rest of the car from the firewall back was almost unscathed. Incredibly the A9X was back racing in Darwin finishing in P4 for the weekend. Mark King’s Camaro wasn’t quite as lucky, however it’s well on its way to hitting the track again. In the meantime King has been behind the wheel of an incredible looking 1972 GTS Monaro.

The TCM series continues in 2017 with rounds remaining at the marquee Supercar events held at Sandown, Bathurst and Newcastle, make sure you don’t miss any of the action! Do you own a TCM worthy classic car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Dick Johnson and The Infamous Rock

Ford racing legend Dick Johnson was at the centre of one of motorsports greatest controversies in 1980. While leading the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 disaster struck when he encountered a rock on top of the mountain on lap 17, ruining both his car and any hopes he had of race victory. In this article we will recount the incident, the following outpouring of support from the general public and discuss just how the rock ended up on the track.

The 1980 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 started about as well as Johnson could have hoped. With main rival Peter Brock experiencing issues as a result of a collision with a back marker and going a lap down at the start of lap 17, the race was Johnson’s to lose. As any Australian motorsport fan would know, the mountain tends to strike in the strangest of ways, and only a matter of 30 seconds after putting Brock a lap down, Johnson experienced firsthand the ways of the mountain. After passing through the cutting, Johnson rounded the next right to be confronted with a tow truck on one side of the road, and a football sized rock on the other. With nowhere to go, Johnson hit the rock. The impact ripped the front wheel and suspension apart before sending the XD Falcon into the wall at high speed. At such an early stage of the race it’s hard to say it cost Johnson a certain victory, but with the lapped Brock going on to win the great race, it’s not too much of a stretch to say the race was Johnson’s to lose.

Later in the day Johnson was interviewed for TV, where he emotionally explained the incident, stating “I just couldn’t believe my bloody eyes. These galoots up there that just throw boulders... like it was enormous.” He went on to explain that to repair the car and have it back on track would cost him at least $40,000 and that until fences were installed around the track he wouldn’t be returning. The public responded with an outpouring of support, calling into the TV station to donate money towards the rebuilding of Johnson’s car. When all was said and done, $72,000 had been donated by the public, which was matched by Ford Australia leaving the grand total at $144,000. The amount reignited Johnson’s racing career, which still continues today as a key stakeholder in the DJR Team Penske Racing Team, which is currently dominating the 2017 Supercar Championship. Of course Johnson would return to the mountain, recording three wins in the great race, including the very next year in 1981.

But just how did that rock end up in the middle of the Mt Panorama racing circuit? Well the story goes that two hungover men had made their way to the side of the track to watch the racing after a big night on the cans. One of them was lying down with his head resting on one rock and his feet resting on another, using it to hold him in position on the steep bank above the track. While moving his feet, he dislodged the rock, sending it plummeting down the embankment. At this point the two men bolted and were never to be seen again and as for the rock… the rest is history. Johnson has since stated in interviews that he believes this story and even shares in the humour of the situation, having the rock on display in his office for the last 30 years.

What’s your favourite Bathurst memory? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Falcon Farewell – Saying Goodbye to the Aussie Icon

When Ford introduced the XK Falcon to the Australian market back in 1960, not many would have predicted the impact that the ‘Falcon’ name would have on the Australian motoring landscape. Production of the Falcon came to an end in 2016, although along the 56 year journey Ford was able to produce a number of iconic Australian cars. Here we take a look at six Falcons that will forever be remembered by Australian motoring enthusiasts.

1965 XP Flacon

The original XK is remembered as a car that unfortunately wasn’t built with local conditions in mind, resulting in the model receiving a poor reputation amongst consumers. Ford went back to the drawing board; with build quality issues being quickly remedied and by 1964, the XP Falcon was the car that kick started over five decades of manufacturing of the Falcon in Australia. In order to overcome durability issues faced in the original Falcon, Ford conducted 70,000km of around the clock on-road testing at their You-Yang’s facility. The end result of this arduous testing was a car that proved to be capable of handling everything Australia’s harsh conditions could throw at it.

1971 XY GT-HO Phase III 

Arguably Australia’s most iconic car, the XY GT-HO Phase III was originally built in order to homologate the XY Falcon for racing. Only 300 units were built. The 351 cubic inch that lay underneath the bonnet was a true fire breather, non-standard heads and valves with an increased compression ratio of 11.5:1 coupled with a 780 Holley carby. It was capable of a top speed of 142mph and 14.4 seconds down a quarter mile which propelled it to the fastest four door sedan in the world at the time. The HO also came couple with  These days a very good example of one of these cars would set you back a bit south of $500,000.

1973 XA GT RPO83

In 1972 the XA Falcon range was introduced, with arguably one of the biggest body styling changes since the introduction of the Falcon it certainly made an impression in the car park. With the Supercar Scare and the cancelling of the Phase 4 program hope was not completely lost for a hero car beyond the GT staple.1973 gave rise to Regular Production 83, a performance package option with 250 units scheduled 259 were eventually built. The package included a big 780 Holley carby and extractors along with some other rumoured extras. Not all were fitted with the same equipment supposedly and this has led to many theories as to what was factory and what wasn’t on the limited run cars. They now demand a substantial premium with a recent Lime Glaze RP083 Sedan said to have sold for $240,000.

1980 XD ESP

1979 brought another body styling transitioning from the XC range which marked the introduction of side intrusion bars and the forever iconic blue oval grille and bootlid badges. The XD was more reminiscent of the XY styles with sharper body lines and was heavily influences by the European Granada Mk2. With the departure of the GT name in 1976 the public now were deemed ready for another substantial sports package, the European Sports Pack (ESP) option in 1980. Option 54 – ESP, included “Scheel” fornt seats, Red lit instruments/clock, Bilstein shockers, dual rear radius rods and Bathurst Globe rims. Ever since the introduction of the ESP they have been a sought after vehicle with XD and XE ESP’s demanding between $15,000 and $45,000 in most cases depending whether they were 6 cylinder’s or fitted with the highly desirable factory T code 351ci engine.

2002 BA XR6 Turbo

In 2002, the BA XR6 Turbo brought upon a step outside of the Falcon’s recent conservative comfort zone. This turbo charged engine package option utilized the new Barra I6 4.0L with a Garrrett GT40 Turbo, it was able to produce a lively 240Kw/450Nm whilst giving its 8-cylinder counterpart some serious competition. The new look BA design with the XR6 Turbo offering went a long way to erasing the memories of the largely unpopular AU range.
 

2014 FGX XR8 Sprint

The 2014 FGX XR8 Sprint will go down in the history books as the most powerful Falcon ever produced. The brochure will tell you that the XR8 Sprint produces 335Kw/570Nm, although as a result of its ‘transient over-boost’ feature, maximum power figures will read closer to a whopping 400Kw/650Nm. The FGX brought in a number of cosmetic changes compared to the outgoing FG, although the interior stayed much the same. Whilst some may deride the fact the interior is a little plain, and that the car is lacking a few common technical features, it still remains that the consumer had access to unbelievable power figures at a very competitive price point.

The Ford Falcon will forever hold a special place in Australian motoring enthusiast’s hearts, and with a number of other Falcons arguably being capable of making this list, we’d love to hear which have been your favourite Falcon’s over on the Rare Spares Facebook page and in the comments section below.

2016 Motorsport Season Wrap Up

When it comes to the automotive world, it definitely goes without saying that we at Rare Spares are suckers for Motorsport. Whether it be the iconic Supercars (formally V8 Supercars) or the Touring Car Masters, we can’t get enough of fast and furious four wheeled action. Here we will take a look back at some of the series my exciting moments and how they finished up.

Last year the Supercar series went through, some big changes, one of which was dropping the V8 name from the series to make way for turbo charged vehicles. However, the year was not without incident. Who could forgot the Red Bull poster boys Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen fighting at the front throughout the season, until the second last round in New Zealand where one punted the other, sending Van Gisbergen sliding off the road. This Supercars season also saw the first full-time female racer in decades enter the series. Simona De Silvestro was a former Indy Car racer and with her impressive wild card entry in the 2015 Bathurst, she was locked into a three year deal in the Australian category.

Some other big moments saw HRT move to Triple Eight with Holden choosing the team over Walkinshaw Racing, ahead of the development of their new 2nd generation Supercar. The biggest story would have to go to the events that took place at the Bathurst 1000. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were named the Bathurst champions after a dramatic end to the race in October. Whincup was stripped of his first place result due to a 15 second time penalty that was applied post-race. The series ended up being taken out by Van Gisbergen after an extraordinary display of skill and ability throughout the year.

The Touring Car Masters also provided nothing short of a thrilling series once again, with high horse power and classic metal never failing to impress. One of the most memorable moments would go to the man Glenn Seton taking out the title for the first Trans-Tasman challenge. The Touring Car Masters and Central Muscle Cars went head to head at Mount Panorama for an incredibly exciting race which saw the Thunder Road Racing Team Australia driver claim his third TCM race win at Bathurst and fourth of the season.

The series also provided some valiant efforts with Eddie Abelnica ending a 64 race streak without a Touring Car Masters race victory, thanks to a brilliant performance at the stunning Phillip Island GP Circuit. Abelnica powered his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon hardtop to the win from fourth on the grid, passing Glenn Seton, Jason Gomersall and John Bowe in an outstanding display of steering. The Touring Car Master season title went to none other than Rare Spares ambassador, John Bowe, after he recorded his eighth race win of the year with an 80 point lead ahead of second place winner, Eddie Abelnica.

With such an exciting season of Motorsport behind us, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate automotive scene and with 2017 in full swing, we cannot wait to see what this year will bring!