Words: Chris Ralph
This isn’t the first father and son story we’ve run. But this one features the same car, first raced by Don Green when his son Brock was still in the stroller. Little did they know then that four decades later they’d both be celebrating a popular win.
Lion to Jaguar
Don Green had raced a 48-215 Holden in the original Appendix J days, never thinking he could afford the car of his dreams - a Jaguar. But in the mid ’70s a 1959 Mk 1 Sports Sedan came his way and the die was cast. From then on, Don would race Jaguars and nothing but Jaguars; but his devotion to the marque meant there would be a 26-year gap between competition outings…
As Don’s old Mk 1 racer was becoming become less competitive, discussions around the revival of Appendix J were gaining strength. ‘Hmmm,’ Don thought, ‘David McKay’s famous ‘Grey Pussy’ won the first-ever Australian Touring Car Championship in 1960...’ So, a 1962 Old English White 2.4-litre manual version was found in 1980 and the racy bits were transferred from Don’s mildly-tweaked Sports Sedan, which still ran road-going suspension.
At the first ever Victorian Appendix J race (now called Group N historic touring cars) at Calder on December 7, 1980, Don had his new Jag ready for action and the combination was immediately effective - his meticulous results file showing several placings inside the first half dozen behind Mustangs and Lotus Cortinas.
In 1982, the car’s livery changed to its current black with gold stripes, but the car would race for only another few years as growing family commitments took priority. Never to be sold, the car was stored as Don, with equally enthusiastic son Brock, continued to lavish love and care on the big Cat.
Given his father’s devotion, it was clear early on that young Brock had no options when it came to his choice of vehicle for Historic Touring Cars.
Central to Brock’s earliest memories is a big, sleek, black car that smelled of wood and leather and had a leaping cat emblem over the chrome grille. It’s Dad’s car and together they share the love of cleaning and fettling, in Dad’s shed and with Jaguar stories going straight into the mind and psyche of the wide-eyed kid.
Not only is Brock ‘a chip off the old block’, he followed Don into the electrician trade and by about 2010, hard work had provided just enough resources to do what the pair had their hearts set on – getting the old Jag back on the racetrack.
Budgets limited them to sprints and hill climbs with Don behind the wheel, but engine problems arose at this point, taking the car out of action for a few more years. Cue the blood, sweat and tears of a long and painstaking rebuild…
Rebuilt, Raced and Ready for More
By the time the rebuild was finished, Brock was in a position to help out more and together, father and son prepared Coventry’s finest for Historic Sandown 2017, a perfect track to stretch its long legs – and a good place for a P-plated Brock’s first HTC race meeting.
Having done two years in Regularity and Sprint events at Calder, Winton and Baskerville prior to Historic Sandown, it was a nervous Brock who lined up to face the flag.
First time drivers are expected to tail the field, but Brock was into it from the start, cutting seconds off his qualifying time to circulate in the 1.33s. Little did we know Brock had been a front-running go-kart racer for years, which showed in his cut and thrust approach and resulted in the Makulu Vehicle Storage Award for Driver of the Meeting – a rare thing for a first time driver. But more was to come.
Also picking up the 2017 HTCAV Rookie of the Year perpetual trophy, Team Green was pumped and set their sights on more glory at Historic Sandown 2018.
A new format was to be trialled at the 2018 historic meeting – Division One and Two, and Brock’s qualifying time had him eighth in the second group. He was in with a chance and when the big black Jag swept over the finish line to win the Sunday afternoon race, there was a whoop of joy from the purists – and tears of joy from the Team Green tent.
“I never expected a WIN!” said Don in amazement after Brock’s victory. “An outright has been my goal since the ’60s and to watch Brock do it at such a big meeting was fantastic.”
To see father and son with arms around each other in the pits afterwards was the perfect demonstration of why grassroots-level family motorsport is such a great endeavour.
It’s been forty years so far for father and son in the big, snarling black Cat. With Brock racing and Don sprinting, the pairing promise they’ll be a unique and devoted racing team for many years to come.