1970s Aussie Street Machines

Street Machine. Two words that, for a slowly diminishing band of brothers, mean a lifestyle, a form of rebellion, a chance to self-expression via changes to sheetmetal, shoehorning into a tight engine bay a donk that shouldn’t fit but does, or layers of luscious custom “kandy” pearl paint. Although largely a forgotten scene in the eyes of the public, street machine aficionados will be happy to tell you the cars and the lifestyle are alive and well, and that there are names as revered in the field as McCartney is in music or Hawking in science. One particular magazine, born of the era, and still living in an age of electronic media, was originally called Street Machine and Van Wheels. That second part provides an echo of the past, with panel vans from Holden, Ford, Chrysler, and a smattering of others, part of street machining history. One such entry was the 1977 HZ Holden panel van of Greg Mercer. Starting with a clean sheet, Mercer and his dedicated team reworked every aspect of the humble HZ. Gull wing style doors, flares, a TV in the interior watched whilst one relaxes on shagpile carpet and an enlarged rear window in the tailgate, plus a huge mural on the rear flanks, mark this one as having history in both the panel van era and as a street machine.  Rodney Neal cast his eyes over the coke-bottle flanks of an 1973 XA Falcon “tudor” in bright yellow, liked what he saw, but thought to himself it’s lacking in.....big rear rubber, a lowered road scraping stance, and a “Clevo” fitted with one of the biggest “huffers” available at the time, breathing through a scoop big enough to catch whales. Rodney dreamt, and his dream came true in the form of the eyeball searing “Lethal Weapon”. Kevin Monk etched his name into street machine history with a car so good, its American based body has many thinking it was modified in the States. Nope. His 1970 Dodge Challenger is a work of art and all homegrown down under. Slammed to a floor meets tarmac stance, coated in a red paint so deep one could drown in it, Monk’s epic work was powered by an engine Thor was scared of. Packed with all of the proper go-fast good bits, the alloy 426ci monster churned out a massive 1000 ponies in its time. Sometimes a street machine can look for all the world like a car that’s had some big tyres melted on to the rims and not much else. Craige Wood had a Falcon XW/XY ute that looked a little like this, with the addition of a pair of oil refinery draining carbies bolted to the top of a meaty 429ci engine. A resprayed body hides hundreds of hours of painstaking work underneath, chromed bumpers were filed and straightened to look like new, and huge Cragar 15x12 alloys at the back add up to a noticeable yet subtle looking piece of street machine history. Our final pick is one that Australia had never seen the likes of before, and has not seen since. Allan Cooper had a philosophy that mirrored the two “O”s in his name. Cooper took a Holden HQ ute, painted it black and called it Blo Bak. He added an extra pair of tail lights for a 2x2 look, filled in the tailgate’s gaps and added a spoiler to crown the tail lights, added fins from the ute’s roof down to the spoiler and that was almost enough. No sir. Clad in silver paint and slotting in a 253ci up front, Blo bak 2 was born. Out back, slap bang in the middle of the ute’s tray, is a heavily reworked and blown 350ci Chev carried over from the first version. Power goes to the ground via a TH425 transaxle “tranny” and the rubber wraps Moon wheels. Are you a street machiner? Own a car that is a street machine? Tell us your story via our blog comments or drop us a line via our social media links. (Pictures courtesy of Which Car and Street Machine)          

A Look at the Dodge Hellcat Crate Engine

There are blokes that like simple things. Press a button on a remote, the television springs into life. There, nothing to it. When it comes to cars, surprisingly enough there is the same thing when it comes to engines. Yes, second hand ones, complete with stinky oil and worn out spark plugs can be bought, but to do it properly, a “crate engine” is the go. What is in a crate is substantial but there will be some extras to buy. American muscle cars have a great crate history and Dodge keeps that tradition going with the availability of the Hellcat crate engine. There are two available and there are some seriously big numbers involved. There is the “standard” engine and it’s good for 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. In Aussie speak that’s a hefty 521kW and 881Nm.  They come from a 6.2L or 371ci capacity V8 and it’s almost ready to go straight out of the box. The block and heads have some deep breathing capabilities; bore is a huge 103.9mm, and the stroke a long 90mm. In order to feed those huge cylinders, intake valves of 54.3mm are fitted, and to breathe out there are 42mm exhaust valves. And with a compression ratio of 9.5:1, premium pump fuel is highly recommended. By buying a crate engine, nearly everything is packaged and little else is required. This particular crate has the basic engine block, heads, standard water pump, and front sump oil pan. There is also the flywheel and clutch, intake manifold & throttle body, the coil pack ignition system, and fuel injectors.  As a package, it’s called the “Hellcrate”. Cost is around $15K in U.S. dollars. That’s around $21,600 AUD. However, dig deeper into the pocket and there is the “Hellephant” crate engine.  At a monstrous 426ci or 7.0L in size, this takes out of the box power and torque to a whole new level. 1,000 horsepower or just under 748kW, 950 lb-ft, or a truly incredible 1288 torques are there for the asking. Dodge says this alloy blocked behemoth isn’t available to buy here in Australia. And then there’s some serious conversations with a bank manager if it was. Figure on around $43k AUD... Much like the “Hellcrate”, a buyer will need to source their own ECU, wiring, throttle, sensors, and some other parts, but according to Dodge, there won’t be a need to buy a supercharger. That’s standard fitment. Custom forged pistons are part of the internals, as is a higher profile camshaft. So if simplicity is a thing, and a desire to upgrade with not a lot of extra work needed, then a crate engine such as the “Hellcrate” or “Hellephant” is a good starting point if changing the earth’s rotation is required. Have you bought a crate engine? Tell us what you bought and where it went in the comment section below this article on the Rare Spares Facebook Page! 

History of the Holden Torana

2019 marks the fortieth anniversary of the cancellation of an Aussie icon. Originally based on a small and boxy British design, the Holden Torana started as an edgy and squared off two door body shell. The HB Torana was released in 1967 and came powered by a 1.2L four cylinder, with a four speed manual attached. If you wanted a self shifter, a three speed auto was made available as an option. The HB was very heavily based on the then Vauxhall Viva, with essentially minor cosmetic changes and differences visually. Underneath were drum brakes front and rear, and Holden offered disc brakes up front as an option. 1968 saw an engine boost, under the name of Series 70. Compression was modified, a different carbie was fitted, and power reached the heady heights of 51kW, or 69 horsepower as was measured then. The auto was deleted from the standard engine which produced a mere 42kW/56hp. Another Aussie icon, Brabham, would be added to the Torana’s history early on. The Series 70 engine which featured a single Zenith-Stromberg carbie, was upgraded to a pair of them capped with sports air filters. Along with front disc brakes, standard with the HB’s Series 70 engine, the Brabham Torana had a low restriction exhaust, wider wheels, and some body styling. Peak power here was 59kW/79hp. Holden and Vauxhall collaborated on developing a four door HB and September 1968 saw the release of the HB four door. This differed even further from the Viva, with the styling markedly changed from its British cousin. A new collapsible steering column was standard, a redesigned dash with instrument cluster and indicator stalk update, and a steering wheel pinched from the larger Kingswood/Monaro. A complete redesign was given for the LC, with early versions featuring a close resemblance to the HB but from the A pillar back was completely new. Engines were upgraded to offer a six cylinder for the first time. The 2.6L or 161ci would morph into the 173ci and finishing with the legendary 186ci. The body was modified from the HB to allow for the bigger straight six, transmissions were a three speed manual or auto, or a four speed manual. The Brabham model was discontinued here. Seats went to bucket seats as standard across the LC range and the British dionated a more powerful 1.6L four, with 60kW/80hp on tap. But perhaps the standout for the LC was the addition of the GTR. A two barrel Stromberg WW carbie on the 161ci was standard, as were front disc brakes. This would form the basis for yet another Australian automotive icon. The Holden Torana GTR-XU1 used the 186ci engine, fitted with three Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburettors. The engine breathed out via cast-iron headers through a performance cylinder head and camshaft, and a four-speed manual gearbox was sourced from Opel. The car was developed by HDT and “The Silver Fox”, Harry Firth. Visually it appealed, with front guard flutes, a rear spoiler, wider wheels, and had a Monaro like dash with sports dials. Holden revamped the LC into the LJ. This featured a redesigned grille and three boxes for the tail lights instead of the LC’s horizontal strip. Engines changed slightly, with a 1.3L unit added to complement the 1.2L and 1.6L. The 1.2L was available in the two door body only, the new 1.3L was available in both two and four doors. The 161ci and 173ci, or 2.2L and 2.8L engines, were carried over and Holden transplanted the 3.3L, or 202ci, into the LJ. That engine would be the heart of the LJ GTR-XU1. With 200hp or 149kW, a M20 four speed manual, and a triple CD-175 Zenith-Stromberg carbie induction, the LJ would be part of history in 1972. The Hardie-Ferodo 500 was won by the up and coming Peter Geoffrey Brock, in a drive that would become the basis for the legend that would become “Peter Perfect”. Unfortunately, a development of the XU-1, colloquially known as the XU-2, would not see the light of showroom days. Rumoured to pack a 224kW/300hp 308ci V8, the “Supercar Scare” would see Holden, Ford, and Chrysler, bench there hi-po vehicles. In the early-mid 1970s the Torana would change again. A limited release TA model would be seen for just eleven months. And then, in March 1974, another body change. The LH and LX Toranas were bigger, boxier, four door sedans and would also see the design feature a hatchback. The LH kicked off with a unique engine range. A buyer could choose from a 1.9L four, the 2.8L and 3.3L sixes, and the thumping 4.2L/253ci or 5.0L/308ci V8s. However, the 308ci was reserved for the SL/R 5000 sedan, which also offered the limited run L34 option. The 263 versions built had engines with stronger internals and higher compression ratings, and the wheel arches outside to fit in even wider wheels and tyres. Come February 1976 and the updated LX was released. Headlights were back to round after the LH’s squarish style. Prototype hatchbacks from the LH body saw production in the LX, and performance was hobbled somewhat by the introduction of emissions reduction equipment. Power outputs were starting to be officially presented as kiloWatts, not horsepower. The four cylinder engine would see life under the name of the LX Sunbird, with the sixes and eights badged as Torana. Holden’s then revolutionary RTS, or Radial Tuned Suspension, would also be marketed alongside the Sunbird and Torana. 1977 and a three letter/numerical option would become yet another part of the car’s legend. A9X. The engines were largely untouched but it was the handling and braking packages, and the addition of the huge bonnet mounted air scoop, that made the option a standout. The racing version in the hands of Brock and Jim Richards would win The Great Race at Bathurst in 1978 and 1979. March 1978 saw the final update, with the UC Torana losing the V8, softening the appearance externally, and revamping the interior. The hatchback didn’t last either, deleted a year after release. The UC revamp also had the Sunbird updated to fit the UC spec. However, Holden saw the VB Commodore in competition with the Torana and the nameplate was retired in late 1980. Which Torana was your favourite and why? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

A Look Back at the Cars of 1989

The final year of the 1980s closes out a decade of varying hair styles, musical tastes, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars sagas (before they got truly silly) and an innovative decade of car engineering and design. Holden’s VN Commodore was reaching the end of its design life, and still packed a 5044cc V8. The SS was a hot looker thanks to well integrated body mods, and was the last Commodore without an independent rear. The VN of 1989 featured an upgraded 3.8L V6 which was quieter and more reliable, and would also be the basis for the Toyota Lexcen. Ford had revived one of the brand’s most popular nameplates with its own, inhouse designed, Capri. A slim looking two door, available with a hard or soft top, the Capri didn’t set the automotive market alight and was available for just five years. The later models had a stylish “jeweled” look to the tail lights, and featured pop up head lights. Unfortunately, the entry level model was hobbled by a three speed auto. Mitsubishi was moving the Magna along quite nicely with a design based on the American Galant. Essentially a “cut and shut” build, with some minor design changes but widened to suit the Australian lifestyle, the TN Magna came with two, four cylinder engines for power only. One sucked fuel via a carbie, the other pushed fuel in via fuel injection. Neither could be said to be “powerful” with the EFI version shunting out just 93kW from the 2.6L capacity engine. Toyota’s Camry of 1989 was a complete revamp of the original hatchback version that was imported from Japan. An effectively expanded version of the Corolla of the day, it had been in production in that shape for just two years, after Toyota Australia switched local manufacturing away from the venerable Corona nameplate. Originally available with a front driven chassis powered by a four cylinder, a V6 option came along soon after. Mercedes-Benz was starring with the C-Class in 1989. The 190 design was in overhaul mode, with 1989 seeing prototypes for what would be the 1993 release of the C-Class model range. The design was a freshen up of the 190 sedan, with a sleeker profile and more aerodynamically suited for the autobahns. BMW was in a good mood too, with the E34 5 Series selling well against its main competitor of the day. In 1989 the design was still fresh, having been released just two years before. 1989 saw the release of the 520i, featuring an updated straight six that produced 110kW. The M5 was also virtually brand new too, with that year’s model packing a 232kW straight six. What kind of car did you have in 1989? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

Rare Spares sponsors the "Welcome Strangers” team in the Autumn Shitbox Rally, 8th – 17th May 2019

Rare Spares are proud to announce that they are sponsoring Aaron Barnes’, a long time Rare Spares customer, team the “Welcome Strangers” in the Autumn Shitbox Rally, Perth to Sydney via Uluru – May 8th – 17th. The Shitbox Rally challenges teams to drive cars worth less than $1,000 across some of Australia’s most formidable roads, all in the name of charity. Aaron and the ‘Welcome Strangers’ will be tackling these formidable roads in a VS Commodore Ute. Aaron Barnes provided us with an update on the build and everything that needed to be completed to get a RWC (road worthy certificate) for the upcoming rally. “It’s been one hell of an undertaking to get this ute going. So far we have completed the following to get it RWC and ready for the long journey ahead - New Tie Rods Ends New Castor Bushes New Front struts New front rotors and brake pads New rear rotors and brake pads New rear shockers New engine mounts New Radiator New water pipes New LHS Rear tail light New side indicator lens New Tyre New Spark Plugs and Leads New Pinion bearing in the axle Replaced Rocker cover gaskets Replaced inlet Manifold Gaskets New Oil Temp Sensor New Air Filter New Cat back Exhaust New headlight globe New RHS Bumperette New rear reflectors New Oil Filter New oil New Coolant New Fuel Filter Added a Nudge Bar Added a Tonneau Cover   Still to go are the flood lights on Nudge Bar and the Custom Roll bar to hold spare wheels and Jerry Cans.” “I am sure there may be a couple of small things I have missed as well, but that is the majority of what has been done and is still to go. I completed all these myself with the guidance of a local retired mechanic called Neil Boyle. I call him "The Mechanical Yoda" as he knows everything and has saved 1000's in getting it done by a workshop.”  “We had completed all the issues pointed out by the RWC report and completed them only to have it drop a cylinder, overheat and have coolant pissing out as we arrived to get it finalised. We managed to get a pass and came back to find the inlet manifold was stuffed and needed to be replaced. 7 Hours later we had it fixed and started it up and it purrs like a kitten now, the ECU has levelled out the missing cylinder and it's all going well.”  “The day arrives to go to ViCROADS on Monday and we are driving along thinking we are home and hosed and all of a sudden the revs jump up to 4000 and we slow down. The transmission has just dropped 4th gear and is stuck in 3rd... I could not believe it, after all the work we had done it's just been one thing after the other with this ute. So we arrive at Vicroads having Transmission fluid pissing out on the inspection bay mixed with coolant and I am thinking "this is not good." “Luckily the VICROADS guy was a top bloke and once he knew we were on the Rally he was happy to give the car a quick sighting and hand over the plates. So we are officially Road Worthy but have a potential time bomb transmission on our hands...” “So hopefully everything is fixed now, if not, we may not make it across the Nullabor to start the Rally.”  “We have raised $5,500 so far so we made our target of 5k and we are officially in the rally and the pressure is on to get this machine rally ready.” Check out Aaron’s youtube channel “Barnesy’s Builds for further updates on the build - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN816jozxyemfTzXYNIM68g   

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! 

Rare Spares’ Automotive Movie Guide – 5 of our Favourites!

There are some topics in life which are more divisive than pineapple on pizzas. Star Wars versus Star Trek, Holden versus Ford, Connery versus Moore. Best car films in any discussion fall into the divisive category.  What makes for a good car film, though? Is it the car or cars? The story line? The set pieces? Trying to pin down a definitive list is impossible, so we thought we’d shop around and get an idea of what people thought. One film that was a clear favourite is a homegrown production. Starring a young up and coming actor named Mel Gibson, it’s a movie that brings in just about everything a good car film needs. Action, pathos, a chase scene or three, “The Goose”, and of course that incredible XB Falcon. “Mad Max” is a film that simply can’t be overlooked.  Steven Spielberg is best known for a few films starring Harrison Ford and a mind-blowing sci-fi film or two. However, an early part of his career involved a story that is about as simple as it comes. With minimal dialogue it relied on Spielberg’s ability to heighten tension with a simple camera move. Starring Dennis Weaver and based upon a book written by a car driver that had a similar experience with a mad truck driver, “Duel” remains one of the most gripping films of its kind nearly fifty years on. It’s almost impossible to write a list of car films without including this entry. The stars of the film were three little machines designed by Alec Issigonis. The story line, again, was simple. Money, in the form of gold bullion, a few gags, some brilliant scenery and an amazing chase sequence, toss in the broad Cockney accent of Michael Caine, and you have “The Italian Job”. This one celebrates fifty years of delighting audiences. It was agonizing to toss out some of the films that could have made the cut. There is the original “The Fast and The Furious” from 1955, and the remake & subsequent series of films. There was Jason Statham’s “The Transporter”, and the sublime recreation of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in “Rush”.  But number 4 goes to a Steve McQueen favourite. Based on real life events, and featuring film from one of the races itself, “Le Mans”. Takes our fourth grid spot. Packed with macho appeal, and the sense of unburnt “gasoline” hovering around the screen, Le Mans was notable for the bravery of the cameramen hanging on to the cars and heavy cameras of the time. Number five features a product of Ford. Debate was heavy as to whether it was the Mustang called Eleanor, or a different hi-po machine wearing the Blue Oval badge. Ultimately it was another Steve McQueen film that won this intense battle and the honour of number five goes to a film that has an unbroken street-based chase scene of nearly ten minutes. Two cars were used, powered by a 325hp 390ci V8 powering down through a four-speed manual. The film is, of course, “Bullitt” Tell us via our social media links what your top five films are? Is there a “Fast and Furious” in there, perhaps a different Mad Max film? We’d love to know your thoughts and feedback here at Rare Spares.   

How did Datsun become Nissan?

26. March 2019 12:13 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Those of us of a certain age will remember that the brand name Nissan was unheard of, and Datsun was synonymous with small Japanese cars. However, there is a substantial history to both companies. Datsun itself was founded in 1911. Part of the name, DAT, comes from the company founders. Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, and Meitaro Takeuchi. Mergers and minor name changes occurred, and in 1931, produced a car called Datson, son literally in the sense of meaning “son of DAT”. These were built at a time where cars with a certain engine size could be driven without the need for a license. However, as son may also mean “loss” in Japanese, it was changed to Datsun. Nissan was founded in 1928, as a holding company named Nihon Sangyo, with the company governing manufacturers such as Hitachi and, crucially, Tobata Casting. The conglomerate was known as Zaibatsu. Ni and San came from the Nihon Sangyo names and were quickly joined to become the name Nissan. Datsun itself had been merged with another company, Tobata Casting, in 1933. This gave rise to both brands expanding, with Nissan hitting the American market soon after. It was 1934 that saw Yoshisuke Aikawa, the founder of Nihon Sangyo, created a separate automotive parts division of Tobata Casting. This was called the Nissan Motor Company Limited. Prior to WW2, Datsun’s passenger car manufacturing was expanding well, however the Japanese-Chinese war saw Datsun manufacturing mainly trucks for the Japanese Army. A need for cheap cars was seen after WW2 and both companies would soon be heavy hitters in this market. Cars such as the Patrol, the 240Z, and Bluebird came into being. Nissan entered the US market in the late 1950s and sold cars under the Datsun brand name. It’s about here that Nissan saw Australia as a potentially untapped small car market also. The same was occurring in Europe and the U.K., with small cars such as the Sunny and Cherry gaining a strong market share. This came at the same time that British Leyland’s manufacturing woes saw their products not regarded as reputable. It appears that the merge and rebranding of Datsun into Nissan was due to some internal politicking and a desire to have a “one brand” presence. It was in the first half of the 1980s that the rebranding was undertaken, with a rumoured cost of US$30 million at the time to change signs at dealerships whilst other associated costs such as manufacturing plant changes totaled over a half billion. Datsun as a brand was resurrected in 2012 for low cost cars in just a few regional markets such as Indonesia and Russia. What is your favourite Datsun? Let us know in the comment section below this article on Facebook. 

Adelaide 2019 Race Report - Adam Marjoram

Adelaide is now done and dusted we had our best overall result yet and below is how it unfolded. Wednesday 27th February I arrived in Adelaide on Wednesday morning for the usual day of set up, scrutineering, track walk, team meetings and review data and vision from previous years. Now for the un-initiated in Supercars or Motorsport, I will use these race reports to take you behind the scenes of Supercar racing as understanding some of the intricacies of the sport will make the race reports more interesting. Although I am still racing for image Racing this year, the support from Erebus Motorsport this year has stepped up to another level. Combine that with the fact that Dunlop Super 2 Supercars and main game Supercars are now identical except for main game will use a soft tyre at some tracks where we are restricted to hard tyres at most events (2 events will be soft tyre). Just to cover the track walk and why we do it, every driver walks every track before practice to make their driver notes as things change from year to year, track surfaces and grip levels change, bumps in braking zones, curbs, even track signage or other landmarks that drivers may use as a pointer as to where to brake for a corner may move. Can you imagine if last year’s track notes tell you to brake at the Fosters sign and this year they moved it 20 metres closer to the turn, it would get ugly very quickly. Once the track notes are made the engineer and driver use them as a guide during the meeting combined with the car data to quantify if the driver is actually braking and accelerating where he should be or whether he can gain time by braking later and accelerating earlier. Everything done it was time to have dinner and get an early night.  Thursday 28th February Today I get to drive the car in anger for the first time at a race weekend this year. The format for Adelaide is two practice sessions on Thursday, qualifying and Race 1 on Friday, Race 2 on Saturday and Race 3 on Sunday. For Practice 1, we elected to put on a very well used tyres as being a street circuit the track was dusty and dirty, and the first session is really all about getting you eye back in and finding out how well balanced the car feels so there is no point wasting a new set of tyres. With that said numerous teams actually bolted on a new set which are obviously faster so we finished well down the order in P12 about 1.5 seconds off the pace. The car had a fair bit of understeer during the session, so we made some adjustments before practice 2 to find more balance. You will hear the word “balance” used a lot in Motorsport as that’s what every team and driver is chasing, the better the balance, the faster the car. A car that is well balanced will brake in a nice straight line, transferring weight to the front wheels to aid in turn in without trying to swap ends, it will then rotate when steering input is made, and will then squat down and transfer the weight to the rear wheels as you accelerate off the turn giving you great drive.  A racecar that wants to go straight when you turn the steering wheel has understeer, a car that slides in the rear when the throttle is applied has oversteer. Too much understeer or oversteer will be slow, as you can’t direct it and transition the weight perfectly through the different zones of a corner .  With some set up changes made it was time for Practice 2. We started the session on the same old tyres we used for practice 1 and the car felt instantly better. Half way through the session we elected to put on a green set (new) tyres to see how the balance is on new tyres as this is what we will qualify on. On the first flyer we were in the top 3 in times, however the end result was not that good p15 as we went early on the new tyres and the track got faster and faster so those that left it later to put on greens were rewarded with better times. We used this to make sure the car was good for Qualifying rather than set a good lap time. Just talking tyres for a second, depending on the track surface and the track temp a new set of tyres will only produce their fastest times for between 1-3 laps, after that they drop between 2 tenths to half a second a lap. After that they level out a bit and slowly lose time over the next 20-30 laps. So if you have not set a good time in qualifying with two flying laps you may as well pull in and save the tyres because you will not go any faster as the tyres have lost their best bit. After each session we viewed the data, debriefed with the engineer as to what changes we need to make to go faster. At 7.00pm I was a guest speaker along with Steven Johnson at a corporate function held in the city, where I was interviewed on stage and did a question session with the audience and shamelessly dropped some great sponsor plugs. It is always good fun being able to share my stories and experiences with guests, and love meeting new fans!  Friday 1st February Qualifying was scheduled for a 12.30 start, with the ambient temperature being 40 degrees and inside cabin temp being about 20 degrees hotter than ambient it was going to be a tough session.  Regarding tyres, each team is allocated 3 new sets of tyres to use through practice, qualifying and three races, so tyre conservation is always part of the strategy, otherwise by race three you have nothing good to race on. We rolled out on our best used tyres to set a banking lap just in case a red flag is pulled ending the session. Our strategy was to do two flying laps on our two remaining sets of race tyres and sit out the rest of qualifying. With the first set, the car felt great and I had lit up two green boxes on my second flyer only to brake a little too deep in turn 14 locking the rears costing me about three tenths and that would have put me in the Top 5. I then boxed and sat in the pits for a few minutes counting the clock down before my last run. With new tyres on I set about ragging the hell out of the car to put me further up the grid. Unfortunately as the track temp was still rising not many went any faster so my qualifying lap was the one set on the first set of tyres. As the chequered flag waved I had Qualified 9th for Race 1. Although not a bad result if I had not made the mistake in turn 14 I would have finished 5th fastest. Race 1 was scheduled to start at 5.40pm and it was still close to 40 degrees so 19 laps in this heat was going to be gruelling. As a driver we have a few driver aids to help us deal with the heat stress from the high in-cabin temperature. We have a cool shirt that pumps coolant through an ice box and then through capillaries in the fireproof undershirt we wear. We also have a helmet fan that forces cooled filtered air through a tube connected to the top of our helmets onto the top of our heads and via a manifold on the helmet for us to breathe.  The problem for me was that on the roll around lap before the start of the race my helmet fan decided it was way too hot to work so it gave up. As the lights went green, I did not get a very good start, I simply did not hook the car up properly and lost two positions before the first corner. It was then “elbows out” to get those positions back which I did by going around the outside of cars on the first lap. We had two safety car periods during the race due to accidents, but in the heat this only makes the inside of the car hotter as you get heat soak from the engine and brakes but very little air flow to remove it.  After the second safety car period the gap I had made had disappeared and I had to fight for the rest of the race to rebuild the gap behind me. My brake pedal had got so hot that it had burnt and started to blister the bottom of my foot through my race boots.  The final few laps were quite painful as you can imagine applying 100kg pressure on a burn each time I hit the brake pedal. By the time the chequered flag waved I was 7th across the line, a great way to open the account for the year! Saturday 2nd February Our race start today was not until 3.30pm so there was plenty of time between corporate box visits, driver signing sessions and pit tours to review the data and race set up from race 1. To alleviate some understeer problems I had in race 1 we decided to change the rear roll centre, and put on our other set of new tyres. Race 2 Starting P7, this time I absolutely nailed the start, as I went to pass the car in front down the middle, he blocked me, so I flicked it left and passed him on the inside and made it 3 wide into the turn 1-2 chicane. The set up changes we had made had still not fixed the understeer problem which made me very vulnerable to dive bombs at turn 9 as I could not hold mid corner speed through turn 8. The cars behind me were putting immense pressure on, so I backed them up a little into each other working their rear tyres harder than they wanted also whilst they were fighting each other it gave me a bit of a break.  At the end of 19 laps I crossed the line in 6th, with a nice straight car – more points for the championship. Sunday 3rd February Once again only one race today with Race 3 starting at 2.00pm, after reviewing the data, my engineers decided to change front springs and rear anti roll bar to fix the understeering problem I had had during the last two races. This has been a problem we battled all weekend, and to move forward we needed this fixed. But at least the weather today was a bit cooler – a nice change, but it became very humid! I again got a good start, but by the end of the first lap I knew we had gone a little too far with the changes and my understeering car was now oversteering quite badly. As a drivers we can trim understeer or oversteer by stiffening or softening the front and rear anti roll bars. As a general rule if you soften the bar you give more grip, if you stiffen the bar you lose grip.  By about quarter race distance I was maxed out on bar adjustment and still oversteering to the point of having a couple of scary moments through the high speed turn 8 that ended my race last year. I tried everything I knew to keep my position but unfortunately lost three positions during the race to finish 9th. All in all we had a great start to the Championship with me taking 6th overall for the round and Championship. I would like to once again take this opportunity to thank all my sponsors, Penrite Oil, Rare Spares Fabcon, Altrex, Carplan, Little Tree’s, Industrial Chemical Supplies, Bremtec Brakes, CoolDrive Ultima Shock Absorbers, Supercharge Batteries, Wesfil, Tridon, PK Tools, Nova and DB Connect. Until next time. Adam Marjoram       

Top 5 Australian Touring Car Drivers

Motorsport in Australia is, it’s fair to say, in a state of flux right now. There are new cars, new championships, and new drivers. It’d also be fair to say that the new crop of drivers would all want to be seen, be remembered, in the same category as those regarded as Australia’s best and legendary touring car heroes. Although the Australian Touring Car Championship effectively lives on in name only, as the award for the winner of the Supercars championship, it’s still an honour to be listed as a winner. In no particular order, here are the five drivers we reckon will be remembered. Peter Brock. Any list of Australian motorsport drivers that doesn’t include Victorian born Peter Geoffrey Brock A.M. isn’t worth considering. Brocky, Peter Perfect, “God”, PB won a record nine Bathurst 1000 races, Sandown nine times, the Australian Touring Car Championship three times, and engendered an aftermarket car company that is synonymous with motorsport. Brock was known for racing with Holden, but also saw his name on the side of BMW cars, Ford cars, Volvo, Porsche, and Peugeot. He even lent his name to a brief flirtation with Russian car company, Lada. PB made his Bathurst racing debut in 1969, muscling Holden’s HT 350 Monaro GTS around Mount Panorama alongside Des West, with the 24 year old partnering West to a third position that year, an impressive debut.  Brock raced in a number of categories including Formula 2, the Australian Super Touring Championship, and Le Mans. His record of 37 wins from 212 starts in the ATCC and V8 Supercars would stand until 2007. He also scored 57 ATCC pole positions and won from pole 22 times. PB would have turned 74 on February 26, 2019.  Jamie Whincup 36 year old Whincup has the dubious distinction of somehow being the most polarising driver in Supercars. Irrespective of how he’s perceived, there is no doubt that he has talent, talent that has given him a record seven (V8) Supercars crowns, four Bathurst 1000 wins, and a Bathurst 12 Hour hat in 2017. Whincup has raced in Australia’s two main brands in the Supercars, being Holden and Ford. In 2016 he became just the second driver, alongside long term team mate Craig Lowndes, to have won 100 Supercars and ATCC races. Throw in 73 pole positions for good measure. What’s impressive about Whincup’s record is simple: he didn’t start in V8 Supercars until 2002. Craig Lowndes Like pizza and garlic bread, you can’t have Whincup without Lowndes, Craig Lowndes. He’s retired from full time racing and leaves behind a fantastic CV. 42 pole positions, 3 championships, over 100 race wins and almost nose to nose as his former team mate in that respect. There are over 250 event starts in those numbers too. With a background in small open wheeler racing and including a win in the Australian Formula Ford Championship, Lowndes started his V8 Supercars career alongside Brad Jones in the 1994 Sandown 500 and clocked up his first ATCC in 1996. Mark Skaife There’s a birthday coming up for our number four driver. Gosford born Mark Stephen Skaife was born on April 3, 1967, and cements himself in Australian Touring Car Championship history with 90 race wins. Factor in 41 pole positions, 220 event starts and 479 races for 87 podiums, international exposure, and clinically oriented driving style and it’s clear that Skaife is in the upper echelons. 1990 was the year Skaife started as a full time driver and 1991 saw three ATCC wins under his tyres. It was also the year that he, Jim Richards, and “Godzilla” worked together to win the Bathurst 1000 and inspire many to boo at the podium presentation. Skaife would finish his full time career as a driver with five championships to his name. Dick Johnson Our fifth grid position goes to Dick Johnson. DJ may have finished with a few less pole positions than others (28), a few less race wins (30), and a few less event starts (202), but the burly, genial, Queenslander did finish with five ATCC crowns, equal to Skaife and 1960s legend, Leo Geoghegan. Much like Brock, the Johnson name is synonymous with one brand, yet Johnson started his career with the red lion against his name. FJ, EH, and Torana, including one previously raced by P.G. Brock. Johnson moved to Ford in 1977 and became a household name in 1980 thanks to a football sized piece of rock at Mount Panorama. 2001 and Johnson was inducted into the Supercars Hall of Fame. With 3 Bathurst wins to his name as well, along with co-running the DJR-Penske team, Richard Johnson gives us our top five ATCC drivers. Say happy birthday to Dick on April 26. Who are your top five ATCC drivers? It’s a question sure to raise debate so we’d love to get your thoughts via our blog and social media pages.