Ford Falcon Farewell - The Racers
Australian motorsport legends John Bowe, Dick Johnson, Allan Moffat and Fred Gibson share their memories of their favourite Falcon racers
My favourite Falcon is the obvious one, the XR GT I won Bathurst in with Harry Firth in 1967. It was pretty special to get the call from Harry and what was also special about it is, I drove for Ford from then on until they pulled the plug with the two-door.
I was in my late-20s and very fortunate to get the drive. Frank Matich was going to drive with Harry but couldn't get back from the US for Bathurst. I knew Frank pretty well so Frank spoke to Ford's Sydney PR man, Max Ward, about giving me a go.
When I met Harry at the Abercrombie Hotel where he stayed he was so confident that we would win. I thought Harry was going to be lead driver and I was going to be relief, but as it turned out, I did most of the driving, with Harry as team manager/relief-driver.
Harry’s guys had done a good job building the car. It was a good strong car with good brakes, as was the Geoghegan car (also built by Harry); Ian Geoghegan qualified on pole, 0.2sec ahead of me. The race was between them and us, really, and we or the Geoghegans led most of the day. We were fortunate to win because the Geoghegans ran out of fuel before a pitstop. Harry wanted me to drive the wheels off it and that’s what we did, all day. Even though I had my Lotus Elan and was doing sports car stuff, that Bathurst was a good start to my career and my involvement with Ford.
Definitely my favourite Falcon race car was the EB that Bowey and I won the 1994 Bathurst 1000 in. It was a difficult car to drive during practice and qualifying and we were only tenth on the grid after the top 10 shootout. But back then they had a free practice session after the shootout and Jimmy Stone made one change to the rear shocks and turned that car into the best car I’ve ever driven.
It was one of those things where they hit the setup spot-on and it didn’t matter what you did, the car would never do anything unexpected, it was just amazing. Some cars, you tip them into a corner and you don’t know what they’re going to do but this thing, you could drive it over the limit and not worry about crashing. Prior to Jimmy’s change it was a handful, one minute it’d understeer, the next it would snap oversteer, and that’s not a good thing through The Chase. That EB was a big leap forward over our ’93 EB, but after Jimmy’s change to the rear end it was just a really comfortable thing to drive, it wouldn’t do anything wrong.
Not only was the car good but the team made all the right decisions at the right time because the weather was a bit inclement and everything came together for us on the day.
Allan Moffat on ‘that’ moment burned into the memory banks of countless race fans, when his team of two hardtops scored a one-two finish, side by side, at Bathurst:
"Everyone got pretty warmed up about the onetwo finish in 1977.
"I remember the marketing director saying to me, ‘You did that easily, Alan, you don’t need any more money.’ The next season proved he was wrong.
"That 1977 race was the hardest stint I did in a Falcon. I drove 82 laps and wanted to make sure I nursed the car. If I could get 82 laps out of it, Jacky (Ickx) could do the rest.
"It’s mentally demanding. Bathurst is no chicken run, and those walls come up and those corners come up and those drops come up, and the brakes start ading. It was an effort. We earned the prize money!
"To take one car to Bathurst to qualify and stay on the track was phenomenal, to manage two was nearly a miracle. Colin Bond never put a scratch on the car, and he was always there.
And the finish? "We were on our way down Conrod straight and Colin edged forward. I sent him a message telepathically, which went through to him at the speed of light: Colin, remember who’s paying the cheque on Monday!"
My favourite car started as an EBII which is the car we won Bathurst with in 1994.
It was converted at the end of 1994 to an EF, so different roof and front guards boot etc. I drove it in 1995 and won the V8 Supercar championship
You have affection for cars you do well in. Ross and Jimmy stone were at Dick Johnson Racing at the time.
Jimmy built that car himself and to this day he’s such a goer. He and I used to speak almost every day – we had a very good connection in that period. It was just a great car.
I crashed it in 1996 at Phillip Island after an almost choreographed crash with Craig Lowndes – he went one way and I went the other. It bounced around on its nose, its tail and its roof and went backwards and into the wall at the Hayshed.
The data said we hit at 235km/h, so it hurt, but I could walk away.
The car went to race car heaven, though these days you could fix it.
FALCON LEGENDS LIMITED EDITION POSTERS...
Motorsport pic agency Autopics has released three signed limited edition posters: Falcon XA 1973 Bathurst Winner, Falcon XY Bathurst 1971 Winner and Falcon XY Sandown 1972.
All are signed by Allan Moffat, John French and Fred Gibson and are limited to just 100 of each worldwide. They all come with a certificate of authenticity showing all three signing the poster.
The size is 675 x 450mm (26 x 17 inches) and is available unframed or framed. Price for the unframed is $95 and framed $295, both plus delivery.
To order go to Autopics.com.au, ring David on 0407 869 680 or email email@example.com
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