After skipping the event last year, it was great to return to this year’s huge Muscle Car Masters event at Eastern Creek. Held on Father’s Day since its inception, it’s a great family day at the track and quite popular as you can tell by the 20 000 people who turned up for it!
GTHO and Tru Blu looking quite at peace, just before the last run of the afternoon.
Two of our best Ford falcons came down for the event; Dick Johnsons mighty Tru Blu that is celebrating 30 years since its 1981 Bathurst and ATCC victories. John French was on hand to drive it and another of his famous cars, the Factory GTHO Falcon he piloted back in 1971 at Bathurst, some 40 years ago. That year he finished in a gallant 5th position after issues with the fuel foam breaking down and his team mate Allan Moffat winning in the significant sister GTHO, # 65E.
Our tent area was dead bang in the middle of the pits and it seemed we were to become the information booth for the entire event! It was great to meet so many of the people who get our newsletters and on our facebook page, thanks for coming to say hello and giving your support to us, it means a lot. We released our new wash sponge “Muffy” to Sydney as well, which went over very well, selling out of them before Sunday morning was over. Great o get so much positive feedback from those who have used Muffy as well.
Phil Brock testing our Muffy sponge his own special way.
Both cars ran well, we were hoping to run Fred Gibson in the GTHO on Sunday, but lack of the right apparel and other CAMS issues left Fred quite happy in the Legends Box watching the action. I reluctantly stepped in for him (things you have to do!!), running the first two runs of the day. The GTHO is pretty special to drive, funny how people think of them as a race car, but they are really just a road car that made their way to the track. Still she is lovely to drive and you get used to the body roll and lack of grip the tyres give after a lap or two, mainly as y this stage your more concerned by the fact it has no brakes! The guys that raced these things hard in the day are legends, especially for 500 miles around Bathurst!
Braking duel with our old Allan Grice LJ XU-1, now beautifully restored
Many of those who know me would be very aware that Tru Blu is one of my all time favourite racing cars, after seeing DJ win the 81 championship at Lakeside in that huge race with Brocks HDT Commodore. That afternoon Frenchy said he was done for driving her, so taking the elder brother duties I again stepped in for my first ever drive of her. Dick has had Tru Blu rebuilt for the Gold Coast Indy race and both DJ and French said it is just the same to run as it was all those years ago, I was curious as to how good this childhood favourite actually was..
Jason Richards was on hand for the last run of the day, in one of the Porsche Museum cars, namely the beautiful and sleek Le Mans winning 962 race machine. Most would know about the battle Jason has had with cancer, so to see him in this machine was something really quite special. Another thing that was special was getting Chris Bowden out of the corporate box, to grace us with his presence and drive the French GTHO in this final too.
John French driving hard in his old beast.
I had myself fitted into the Tru Blu seat, which was tight as hell, they must have made them that way back then, or was it one too many spring rolls from the lunch kiosk for me on the day.
Kid in a candy store....
Everything in the car is heavy; steering alone just about puts your back out trying to get it around the pits, a real man’s car! I followed Chris out and as she burbled to life, you can feel she becomes happy once it gains speed upon entering the track. Clutch and steering lightens up, engine begins to get active and sound at ease and the shift…my dear god the shift, just makes you wonder how the hell it can be a top loader gearbox in the thing! That shift was one of the first things that made me realise I was driving something truly awe inspiring as it slicks in with very little effort, hot knife into butter is the best over used term I can think of. Brakes need a lot to warm them up, so they begin to get a full pedal and pull straight and the tyres are feeling ok after the normal warm-up lap too. Following Chris with some distance in the GTHO, I caught pretty easily and had him wave me through, as he battled to keep it all in control. I had the lovely ex Glenn Seton Ford Credit V8 Super Car come roaring up behind me, as it has at numerous events, I waved him past, as we always do, with its late model engine, brakes and chassis being no match for the old Tru Blu..well so I initially thought.
Catching the Seton Falcon in Tru Blu
As the Seton Falcon pulled away down the straight I gave Tru Blu’s 351 Cleveland its first airing with a solid push of the throttle to the floor, oh my god.. the earth moved as it pushed me right back in the seat and bellowed out one of the best notes I have ever heard in a car to this day, it felt almost like a computer game as I began belting through the gears as quick as I could, till we were at the end of the straight, catching right back onto the Seton Falcon’s tail.. Thinking he was just taking it easy and there way no way I could have caught him as I floated through turn one at a speed I had never been comfortable running at before in our other cars, much thanks to the fat race tyres and suspension really offering great grip and confidence. Not even meaning to be catching the Seton car, I did and passed him in about the same place I let him go the previous lap, and then just kept going.
Dan has passed and is away!
Jason Richards, hunting Falcons!
Feeling quite in awe of tru Blu and my driving, my reality check was about to come a lap later as I saw the low slung 962 Porsche approach me, with the headlights piercing the rear view mirror as Jason Richards caught me coming onto the main straight. It was the 962 vs Aussie Muscle icon for a drag race and I thought I would be in for a chance for sure! I was going well for at least a second, till I changed gear and heard the Porsche screaming somewhere close to me, I looked across to sight it and the 962 had disappeared!! Impossible I thought as it was so noisy, before I could work out what was going on it appeared right in front of me, being so low I lost total view of it, hiding under the door line of Tru Blu! What a sight as it ran off and away down the straight, hitting some unbelievable speed with me only half way down there, when it was hitting the brakes into turn one, seriously fast!!! I can only imagine how menacing they would have been for the slower Le Mans privateer teams at 2am coming up behind you doing close to 350km/h down Mulsanne straight!
Getting back to my reality of Aussie tin-Tops, Tru Blu is the most perfect package that would offer a driver with a lot more talent than me the chance to really shine. A real credit to Dick and his team, in creating such a great race machine from the humble XD Falcon. For me it is something quite exceptional to get out of her realising the car is even better than I had previously thought.
It was a great weekend for our whole team, thanks to all those who came along and said hello. thanks to Mark Pryor and Neale Bayliss for ther images of the cars on track. See a heap more shots from the day in our Facebook album by clicking here.
Love your car,