Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The TR7 Pro-Car Series - Tales from the Crypt

·     * The idea of our TR7 one-make race series originally sprouted from a US magazine article about a BMW series run in conjunction with Formula One races, and our thanks go to Bill Nolan of our ad agency.
·      *The great thing about a one-make series is that you win every race!
·      *In one round an exuberant ‘Pete’ Geoghagen rolled several times and totaled a TR7 and as they were dragging the wreck off the circuit he returned to find me in the Paddock, and hand over the ignition key with the disarming line: “Here you are JC, it’s the only thing f……g straight on the car!”
·      *Our car whiz, Ron Gillard, held a ballot every race for the cars, so each driver got a different car for every round. Bob Morris did ‘flat changes’ every gearshift (no clutch), which put enormous pressure on the mass-produced transmission. He was warned by Gillard to stop it, but when he wouldn’t, Ron simply made sure that whatever car Bob drew in the ballot, the much-thrashed gearbox would be fitted to that car.
·      *John Goss prevailed upon Leyland Australia to provide him with a TR7 loan car at the end of 1980, however in early 1981 he departed Australia for Europe, without a word to us and spent the 1981 northern summer assisting his brother Michael, a ship's master, sailing around the Mediterranean. We never saw the car again for 12 months!
·      *Despite the intense competition in each of the 1980 races, the chequered flag went each time to only TWO drivers, Jim Richards or Bob Morris.
·      *Before the TR7 series began, Phil Moore, Leyland Australia’s head of marketing, suggested we go rallying, using a turbocharged TR7, in lieu of a V8, as BL did in the UK. The rally program costs were paid by a budget handed to us by BL so we could convert all our TR7 stock into turbocharged cars, to make them more saleable. However, the rally idea soaked up all the budget, and the car only entered one rally, and failed to finish – so that was the end of the costly rally campaign.
·      *Barclays Bank made an auspicious start in new car financing thanks to the Series, which became a profitable revenue stream for it. The bank confirmed that all of the visibility it achieved, stemmed purely from the race series, plus inviting lots of car dealers to attend the races in the Barclay's hospitality tent. Barclays happily returned in 1981.
·      *Gillard rehabilitated all the original 1980 race cars for the 1981 Pro-Am series, and sold two of those cars to aspiring amateur racers. There we 22 spots on the Amaroo Park starting grid, and we sold enough TR7s to amateurs to fill the grid in the last few rounds of 1981.

·     * The leading amateur Gary Walden got his start by ‘winning’ his race car in a promotional go-kart support series run by Village Grand Prix. He used his start in the Barclays TR7 Pro-Am to go on and develop a promising racing career, including joining the Alan Moffat Mazda team one year at Bathurst.

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