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Bathurst 1973

Peter Brock
Bathurst 1973
3rd Round of Manufacturers Championship.
Double points being awarded.

Bathurst 1973 was like no other Bathurst race before for the fact that this years race was over 1000 (approx. 630 miles) kilometres instead of 500 miles (approx. 800 kilometres).  There was speculation about the reliability of some of the fancied cars over the extra distance but the Toranas had been a proven distance runner unlike the blown engines of  the Falcons!

Toranas were a popular choice for teams wanting outright honours as the entry list showed, 21 Toranas out of 32 Class D entries.  This showed that people had a lot of faith in the reliability of this 'little car' with a big heart.  The Torana cost so much less to run and alot less to build into a competitive race machine and with it's proven reliability was always going to be the choice for many teams!  This goes back to Harry Firth and the Holden Engineers as this is what they had wanted and was all the Holden budget could afford!

One four door Monaro was entered in Class D by Muir Motors and was driven by Ron Dickson and Bob Stevens and was fitted with a movie camera that the driver could operate when he felt like it! (The first race cam at Bathurst!).  Ford had 5 representitives with 2 of them being works cars, Chrysler also had 5 cars in this class and all were private entries. 

The HDT Pit Crew
Since the 1-2 victory at Sandown the HDT (Holden Dealer Team) under the Management of Harry Firth (Grey Fox), arrived at Bathurst with 3 cars. One was the Bathurst winning car from the year before which both Brock and Bond used as a test car to guage themselves.  Brock was partnered this year with one of the oldest but highly respected drivers, Doug Chivas in a brand new Torana. Co-drivers were required for the first time at Bathurst because of the extra distance instead of being optional.

Colin Bond was partnered with Leo Geoghegan.  The diff ratio was a big factor at Bathurst and there was a new ratio available for the first time, 2.78:1 and this proved to be better than the 3.08:1 in the race but not in qualifying.  Brocks car had the 3.08:1 diff and Bonds car had to be changed for qualifying.  The 3.08:1 was destroying Torana engines thanks to a bump on Conrod where the cars were becoming airborne and over-revving. 

One of the interesting facts about pre '73 Bathurst was with Dick Johnson who was running in his engine on his way to Bathurst from Queensland in his Torana XU-1 (yes thats right), his engine coughed and spluttered to a halt. They traced the fault to water in the fuel and by the time it was fixed Dick arrived at Bathurst to miss out on the first practice session.

As expected the Fords were the quickest and took the front row but the Ford team was a little worried about the 3 Toranas which qualafied in the top six as the past performances showed that the little Torana could do the distance and on less fuel! 

On Sunday the HDT cars, fitted with there low profile Bridgestones, were ready on the grid to go into battle against the powerful Falcons.  I must add here that Peter Brock found that the worst wearing tyre they could use would do a theoretical 396 laps at race speed before wearing out, now that is incredible compared to these days.

Colin Bond

Race Time
9:30am was the start time and with a crowd of 35,000 the race was started, the Fords went straight to the front, Goss leading from French, Moffat then Brock, Bond and Gibson chasing. The Ford of Gibson was fighting the Toranas of Bond and Brock and after a short while used the power of the Ford to slip by the Toranas.  Gibson was on the move and a lap later passed French which put him in striking distance to Brock who was just in front of the Toranas of Morris and Bond.  Morris was the first casualty of the front runners on lap four and pitted with a thrown conrod which left him parked up for the day.  The race was an hour and quarter old when Murray Carter (Ford) pitted with a shredded tyre and then just after, Gibsons Ford came to a halt near Skyline with a blown engine , another conrod had let go leaving a gaping hole in the side of the block.  Howard Marsden (works Ford manager) was now down to one car and Moffat seeing his team mates car parked up eased up a little, French who still had Brock at his heels was being closely followed by Bond and an improving John Harvey.

Brock chasing Moffat hard up the hill
At this stage the placings were Goss, Moffat, French, Brock, Bond and Harvey.  French picked up a puncture and pitted which lost him 2:10s in the pits and came out a lap down on the leaders.

Lap 43 saw just four cars on the lead lap and Moffat was being pressured by the Torana of Brock who was attacking at any chance, after a tussle Moffat went into a spin and had to do a three point turn to get back into the race.

Two laps after Moffats incident Goss who was still leading pitted for his 35 gallons of fuel and a change of driver to Pete Geoghegan, 2:23s later the Falcon returned to the track.  Torana (Brock), Torana (Bond), Torana (Harvey), they were still out there and stretching there lead. The Brock car which was running triple twin throat webers as opposed to Bonds car who ran triple SU's, was thirstier and Harry Firth was trying to see if Brocks car could go the distance with just two stops.  The Webers gave the Torana around an extra 9 bhp which wasn't much but on this mountain circuit every little bit helped.

The Holden Dealer Team were looking good at this stage with everything going according to plan and by the time Brock pitted at one third race distance it was looking hopeful that they could do it.  A full tank of fuel , a little oil and Doug Chivas took over the driving.  Five laps later Bond pitted and handed over to Leo Geoghegan, filled with fuel and also a little oil and was out in just 1m44s which was quicker than the 2m03s for the Brock stop.

By the time everyone had done there regular pitstops and the race settled back down into an order the Bartlett/Goss Falcon led from the two HDT cars of Brock/Chivas and Bond/Geoghegan. Pete Geoghegan in the Falcon was gaining on the number 24 HDT car and was soon in front and going away from him. 

1:00pm brought about another flurry of pit-stops Bartlett took over the lead car early and only took on 20 gallons, it wasn't long that Bartlett indicated that the oil pressure was dropping in the Falcon. Goss and Jane were lapping George Garths Torana when Goss tangled with it, the Torana rolled and Goss holed his radiator after several attempts to get back into the race the team finally pushed it around the back of the pits.

Five minutes after the Goss Falcon retired the French/Skelton entry blew on pit straight and he coasted to the side road, this left only Moffat as the sole surviving Ford.  Pete Geoghegan suffering from arm cramp came in ten laps early where they changed three tyres, took on fuel and handed over to Moffat.




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Chivas was now over two minutes ahead of Moffat, Peter Brock held out a sign for Chivas to get maximum laps and on lap 112 Chivas was coming in but at Reid Park the Torana spluttered and the engine died.  Chivas coasted from there all the way to the pits but the hill into the pits was too much and the Torana almost stopped so Chivas lept out and began pushing. The pit-crew unable to help him until the car was in there designated area cheered encouraged the light-weight Chivas until he reached the area then they flew into action.  Filled with fuel Brock started to turn the engine over and over until the it fired into life, two laps later Bond took over from Geoghegan and entered the track two and half minutes behind Moffat and Brock a further two minutes back, what could have been!

Chivas pushing the XU1 into the pits
Brock was now driving his heart out to try and pull some time back and to try and do the impossible. Just over the 500 mile mark Moffat pitted and took on 25 gallons of fuel and didn't bother to take on tyres which took 1:24s and re-entered the track 80 seconds ahead of Bond who was being hauled in quickly by the wide-eyed Brock who was driving the Torana hard.  Brock was called into the pits to take on five gallons of fuel as a safety measure which took 32 seconds.  This put Bond securely into second spot until he came into to change a deflating tyre which put Brock into second place.  Brock was catching Moffat at a phenomenal rate but when the the chequered dropped Moffat won, but to give some credit to the Torana they filled the next four places with the HDT Toranas getting 2nd and 3rd.