Words: Chris Ralph
Photos: Phil Wisewould and Luxmoore family
A motor racing career spanning 61 years is something to be very pleased about and ‘Fast Johnny’ Luxmoore is certainly that. But a recent medical problem has black flagged him forever. He’s not happy about it, but still laughing and cracking jokes - a measure of the qualities that have made him one of the Historic Touring Car Association of Victoria (HTCAV)’s best-loved characters.
The irony is that Fast Johnny is now faster than he ever has been. The nickname was originally derisive: when he returned to the track in a 4-door Cortina in the 90’s after a 30-year racing layoff, ‘fast’ he was certainly not!
But once he got his hands on the ex-Ian Robertson 2-door GT, Johnny became more competitive and, in the last few years, his battles within the Cortina class have been stirring, especially with his closest rival Simon Browning.
One of the keenest competitors in the HTCAV, his regular appearances at race meetings earned a big bag of points - Fast Johnny has been either on the podium or close to it at the end of every championship year.
Rodding and Racing
Born mid-1940 in the Peoples’ Republic of Moreland, Johnny grew up in nearby Preston, in the house and ’37 Willys his father had bought after winning Tattslotto.
As a youngster, FJ’s passion for cars manifested in Dinky Toys and going to race meetings, including the 1956 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, standing on the back of noted racer Bill Leech’s semi-trailer for a better view.
Learning to drive in his Uncle Eddie’s ’34 Chev, John couldn’t wait to get a-motorin’. Leaving Bell State School at 16, he took an apprenticeship in Uncle Doug’s dental technician business with cousin and best mate Wally, who later joined his Cortina equipe in the pits. Saving his pounds, shillings and pence, Johnny cunningly waited to carry out his plan…
In 1958, aged 19, he pounced on a 1951 Holden 48-215. Within two weeks, the motor was out and a hot cam, steel Vauxhall crank, ¾ inch +40 thou. bore, triple SUs on 9-inch ram tubes and extractors were in. Wide wheels and a flash paint job were added, too.
Then Johnny did what every self-respecting pretend bodgie with a hot Holden did: he went out in the middle of the night to the drags. In his case, it was the end of Gilbert Rd in Preston, and at two quid for every win, the money rolled in.
Our hero joined the East Preston “Scuderia Oak Hill Service Station”, crew-chiefed by Reg Price. Team-mates were Peter Lewis-Williams, Bruce Hindhaugh, Ed Marshall and six other guys, all Humpy mounted.
From there, Johnny progressed to the Fishermans Bend drags where the only guy he couldn’t beat was Dave Bennett of Yella Terra head fame.
Round and Round…and Stop
Moving on to circuit racing, Johnny took the Humpy to the likes of Calder, Sandown, Phillip Island, Hume Weir and Tarrawingee, plus the popular hill climbs of Templestowe and Rob Roy.
Back then, he was one of thirty or so Humpy Holdens mixed with Zephyrs, VWs, Fiats, Simcas, Hillmans, Morris Major Elites, Minis and more: this was the Appendix J era in its prime. Contemporary HTCAV members like John Mann, Ted Brewster, Ken Zinner and the late Rob Jamieson were with him. It was the spirit of these years that led to the Appendix J revival in the early ’80s and on to todays Historic Touring Car racing.
Fast Johnny continued to race fast until the beginning of 1965, when Appendix J ended and most Humpy Holdens like his were turned into Div 2 Sports Sedans.
It was time to turn into Responsible Johnny and raise a family (no more illegal racing pissed from the Portsea Pub!), but he kept his hand in driving other people’s cars in hillclimbs - successfully too.
Back on Track
Fast Forward Johnny to the end of 1997 and he made a return to racing in a green 4-door Cortina. This had come onto the market when fellow racer Brian Deveson bought the purpose-built blue 2-door Cortina of your writer, after he himself had upgraded to a 289 Mustang.
Coincidentally, the red and yellow Cortina for which Johnny’s best known these days was the sister car to that blue 2-door, both of which were built in 1994 by the late Paul Trevethan.
Into his ’70s and early ’80s, Fast Johnny went faster and faster, courtesy of strong pushrod motors from Antony Webb of Casey Performance. Getting to know the Cortina like an extension of himself, Johnny also found time to become President of the Mk1 Cortina Car Club for several years.
Unfortunately for Fast Johnny, the brakes have been applied and the flag on racing fun has fallen. Being hit by facial skin cancers was bad enough, but a problem with restricted blood flow in a vertebral artery to the brain means he must hand, in his licences – for both road and track.
Undeterred, John Luxmoore Esq. will now be available in the role of Crew Chief, adding to existing HTCAV responsibilities of Senior Scallywag and Sex Symbol, Lunch Companion For Hire and Resident Court Jester.
“I hate the result of what’s happened to me, but I have had the best time of my years racing with the guys of the HTCAV,” he recently wrote “Friendship and laughter every time we meet. I might be hanging up my suit and gloves but I’ll still be in the Club, helping wherever I can.”