Words: Chris Ralph
What to do under COVID-19 lockdown conditions? For many of us, it’s been a case of binge-watching Netflix… and binge eating! But for the Historic Touring Car community, it’s been time to get in the shed or garage and get on the tools. New builds, restorations, go-faster bits, dynamic detailing and more have been happening all over Victoria and beyond for the past couple of months, so when racing resumes, everything will be fresher, faster and shinier.
Here’s what’s been happening in a shed near you…
Cheesed off in Chelsea
HTCAV product sponsor, Ozito’s Danny Myers’ long-held dream to race at the holy grail – Bathurst - got hit by the curse of Covid. All set to take part in the Easter 6-Hour support races, he was pretty cheesed to find himself on the couch instead.
‘Hmmm, every cloud has a silver lining,’ thought Danny. ‘The money we didn’t spend going there can go into more prep…’
Danny’s HQ Holden has the usual big V8 appetite for brakes, so it was new pads, rotors, calliper pistons and seals, with a second set of callipers rebuilt as spares. “And with some experience in these gearboxes now (grrr!)” said Danny, “we invested in a spare Muncie 4 speed plus some US bits including a nice new Hurst shifter.
“The rocker covers went off to the boys at HSD Cylinder Heads for some slight oil leak mods. With all fluids changed, and a good clean and detail, all we can do is wait…”
Busy in Black Rock
Ben Dahlstrom, in the ever-quicker ’62 Valiant S Series, reports from his Bayside bunker: “After a great Island Classic run, those that are older and wiser have convinced me of the benefits of 15 inch wheels and larger tyres, giving me access to better motorsport compounds. Despite fierce debate between the Minister of Speed and the respective Opposition Delegate in control of finances, I’m please to announce bipartisan support was eventually found.
“More suspension work, courtesy of Eddie Dobbs, is coming my way, too - along with a new colour by Richard Fairlam. The chase for more HP never ends and a few subtle changes are planned in this department to soup up the Slant Six. I hope your isolation has been as productive as mine!”
73 goes into 44
There’s been a game of musical race seats between HTCAV sponsors.
Silver Sponsor CS Airconditioning’s Chris Stern has purchased the No. 73 ’68 Trans Am Mustang of Gold Sponsor, Futura Trailers’ Andrew Whiteside, after selling his ex-Mike Bugelly, Chris Stephen and Rob Bailey version of the same car.
“It’s a newer build,” said Chris, “and once I sold the orange car to Dominic Leo (son of the legendary Tino), I thought ‘What have I done?’ and was very pleased to get back into a ’68 Muzzy.”
The new car has a 58 per cent podium achievement rate at major meetings between 2017-2019, so Chris can’t wait to get behind the wheel and has already slapped his No. 44 race number on the bonnet.
Grrr! in Geelong
Nathan Gordon growls at the 2020 Planner on the wall of his garage, thinking ‘What a waste of money!’ His call for a class action against the printing company gained no adherents, but a lot of thumbs up from fellow historic touring car racers in the same position. So he just makes his Torana GTR XU-1 present even better.
The refreshed engine from Davidson Race Engines had never looked shinier before it was slotted back in and the rest of the car backs it up. The HTCAV Silver Sponsor (Clean Fleet Truck Detailing) knows how to make metal and paint gleam. Of course, Nathan uses his own Clean Fleet range of products. (That plug make you smile again, Nathan?)
Meanwhile in bountiful Bendigo
For former HTCAV President and motorsport parts hero Gordon Cox, it’s full steam ahead on the new blue Mk2 Cortina bought from Gavin Sheehan.
“The engine’s in bits for crank offset grinding to make it all legal. A new gearbox with those beautiful noisy straight cut gears and “secret” ratios,” says Coxy, “I’ve still got a way to go but I’m confident it’ll be ready for The Bend in October. Just need to renew the old licence and convince the doc that the extra 30kg in the front of my shirt is just in case we get locked down again!”
Ever the iconoclast, Coxy has decided to run on traditional historic Dunlop Racing tyres to get some proper old school drift through the corners, and there’s a chance that some of the older car drivers may be tempted to join him…
More beavering near Bendigo
Ex-HTCAV President and current Eligibility Officer, Dean Bryant has had the body on his XR Falcon seam welded and perfected by Mick Stupka, caged by Brown Davis and painted in the correct GT Charcoal internally, to match the GT Gold soon to be applied externally.
Parts have arrived from far and wide - a set of IDA Webers and watercooled quad manifold from the ex-Chris Stern ’68 Trans Am Mustang will make the Falcon’s 289 cu in V8 sing like Pavarotti. A genuine GT close ratio Toploader gearbox, radiator and brakes have come from Mat Jager’s XY Falcon, while a Watts linkage from Savy Motorsport had just been received at time of writing.
“It’s only a 289 hauling a big car and a big bloke,” laughs Dean, “but it’s going to look and sound fantastic and I’ll be having HEAPS of fun!”
Ssshh. The Supercar sleeps.
Tucked up in a nice warm garage in Cranbourne, Phil Barrow’s extraordinary Holden FJ ‘Supercar’ - a racer that has been in the family for more than a generation and confounds all expectations by getting faster every year - is dreaming of yet more historic touring cars it can embarrass at tracks around Australia. “I’ve tickled up the engine a bit,” says Phil – words that could strike fear into many a driver’s heart.
Anything else? “Oh well, I had the steering lock up on me at the top of the back straight at Sandown,” he says casually, “so I thought I’d better fix the problem. A mod to the steering shaft sector should do the trick.” We’d like to think so – not the time or place to have something like that happen and we wouldn’t want to see Phil or FJ the Supercar bent in the slightest.
What’s up in Wagga?
Vintage Racing Services’ Craig Smith is building an all-new ’69 Fastback Mustang for former Club Champion, WA’s Darryl Hansen. Already acid dipped, caged and painted, it was almost a roller when we checked in. Given that Darryl was super competitive in his ’68 Mustang, we asked the question – why the 69? Apart from the obvious “because he can”, there are plenty of good reasons, according to Craig: “Think about Moffat in the day – it was a game changer. The better platform, better weight distribution, sleeker shape – it’s an easier car to drive and inherently faster.”
The ’69 Fastback’s extra 60-80 kg over the ’68 Mustang should be easily taken care of by the high-revving Boss 302. It’s on track to be finished by the end of the year – or even earlier if race meetings come back on line…