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61  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: April 25, 2012, 07:11:56 PM
Here is a recently unearthed photo of Terry Allan battling Rod Coppins at Bay Park, New Zealand, in 1970.

62  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: April 25, 2012, 07:08:55 PM
Thanks Jon, very much appreciated. Further to my post above on terry Allans Camaro, when looking back on Australian touring car racing during the 1960s, and from when the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) first began in 1960, through to the end of the decade, there is a quite clear historical line that shows Australia was enjoying something of a horsepower race. The ATCC from 1960 - 1968 was held as a single race event, then became a multi-race series from 1969 onwards.

The 1960 - 1963 ATCC was dominated by MkI and MkII Jaguars, and Bob Jane was comfortably leading the 1964 ATCC when his Jaguar was struck by clutch problems. By 1964, the engine in Janes Jag was stretched out to 4.1 litres. Then, in 1965, Norm Beechey showed up with the first Mustang to race in Australasia, but as Australia was a country largely dominated by British cars, as its own local manufacturing began to gain momentum, many cars that competed in Touring car racing at the time were British, bar the local six-cylinder Holdens, but these were no match for the Jaguars.

When Beechey imported his Mustang, there was plenty of interest in the car, but also plenty of sceptics, because, in this part of the world, this was something of an unknown, and there were very few people who specialised in American V8s. But Beechey quickly began winning races, and both Bob Jane and Pete Geoghegan soon imported Mustangs of their own. Beechey won the 1965 ATCC, and from that point American V8s became the weapon of choice.

Geoghegans Mustang became the dominant touring car in Australia throughout the latter part of 1965, and into 1966, so Beechey decided to go bigger, and imported a 327ci Chevy Nova (Chevy II). Geoghegans Mustang was thought to have 360hp at the time, whereas the Nova was said to have 450. With this, he built a big lead in the 1966 ATCC at Bathurst, until his 4-wheel drum brakes slowed him towards the end, and Geoghegan moved ahead to win. But the Nova had proven how effective big cubes were.

In early 1967, when Terry Allan ordered his Camaro, the Camaro as a road race car was still a relative unknown. It took Mark Donohue until August 1967 to win his first Trans-Am race with the Camaro, and as Australia was heading fast-forward into a horsepower war, Terry Allan possibly thought he could get the jump on other competitors, by going straight to a big block. Teams in Aus were still learning how to make an American car handle well, the small capacity Mini Coopers and Lotus Cortinas could still beat them on somel race tracks, but big power could be had relatively easy by going for big cubes.

Australia at the time had a touring car maximum engine capacity of 7,000cc. Quite why Allan didn't fit his car with a 427, I'm not sure. Its possible the Confederation for Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) made the decision for him, as they accepted or rejected what cars could actually compete in touring car racing, eg, fastback Mustangs were not allowed, until 1969, Porsche 911 racer Jim McKeown wanted to race an AMC Javelin in 1972, but CAMS stopped him. Their decisions were likely based either on what had been sold in Australia at the time, or international build numbers.

I guess with the benefit of hindsight, a Bill Thomas 327 punched out to 377ci would have been a batter option. Thomas was apparently getting 520hp from his 377 motors when building and selling his Cheetahs in 1963/64, and Allan was only getting this much power by 1969 in his 396. But the big block probably appeared the best horsepower option at the time he ordered his car. But what I don't understand is why he stayed with the big block throughout the next four years when this option gave him so much trouble.
63  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: April 25, 2012, 03:25:59 AM
Hello Jon, this forum is really coming along great, I'm so impressed by what you've achieved here. Keep up the good work.

With regards to the Terry Allan Camaro, and your questions about his choice of big block power, well, I can only guess. But another Australian sedan racer called Bryan Thomson, who also raced a big block Camaro in the late 1960s, had an interesting theory for choosing big block power. I put together a brief article on the Thomson Camaro on The Roaring Season a few months back, and here is what I wrote about his reasoning behind the big block motivation based on an article supplied to me by Chris Bowden, who at the time was selling the Camaro for owner Peter Sportelli:

"Thomson was from Shepparton, Victoria. His local race track was Calder Park, a 1.61km circuit with a fairly simple layout, containing four corners, linked by two long straights, and a couple of squiggles. The front straight doubled as a drag strip. So when Thomson found a 396ci big block powered '68 Camaro drag car being sold by local drag racer Neville Thompson, he pounced.

Norm Beechey held the Touring Car lap record at Calder, at 49.2sec. Thomson figured that as his Camaro could do 11sec mile times, and that as Calder was made up of two long straights, his Camaro, converted to road race trim, would be competitive. Not a particularly scientific approach, but a pretty good guess none the less".

The Thomson Camaro began life as a 396 car, but Thomson later had it fitted with a 427, which gave him 620hp, which, in 1969/70, was impressive for a road race car. Most small block cars in Australia at the time had around 450 - 500hp. Of course, as you've rightly pointed out Jon, a small block car will handle better than a big block car, but Thomson felt the extra power and straight line speed he gained could off-set the loss in braking and handling, and I can only assume Terry Allan was working on a similar theory. Of course, as history showed, both were wrong, the small blocks were better, barring Bob Janes alloy big block Camaro.

If interested, here is the article I put together on the Bryan Thomson Camaro:
64  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: 1969 Mid-Ohio Trans-Am photos on: August 15, 2011, 04:04:44 AM
Jon, those are wonderful photos. Thanks so much for making the effort to share these. I don't know how you manage to find this stuff, but I'm really glad you do.

Is the Don Yenko Camaro the same car Smokey Yunnick built in 1967, painted gold and black? This car appears to be the same car Yenko drove occasionally in the Nascar Grand Touring championship.

Its interesting that the Bud Moore Mustangs started the season fitted with 5-spoke wheels (I call them Daisy mags but I doubt that is their correct name), then they ran a mix of 5-spoke and Minilites, as pictured here, then they ran Minilites at the end of the season.

Interesting too to see the Firebirds don't run front chin spoilers, and the Titus car doesn't wear a spoiler on the rear deck either. Was the front Camaro type spoiler not homologated for the Firebirds?

Boy that Mid Ohio track looks a real handful doesn't it. Easy to see why so many cars ended up with panel damage. It would have been a real testing track.
65  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 10, 2011, 09:12:54 PM
Hi Jon, the nephew of Terry Allan has started a thread on the Camaro, searching its current whereabouts/fate. It seems to have just vanished from trace around 1975. Hopefully it has survived. But the internet has certainly become a wonderful place for tracking down old race cars. I hope they find it.

Here is the thread:
66  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: 69 Penske vinyl roof on: August 03, 2011, 05:01:58 PM
You guys are right! I just went and checked, and as Jon has said, the Penske cars just had large holes that lined up through the bodywork, there was no piping involved. Apologies, it seems I was attempting to fabricate a new story!
67  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: 69 Penske vinyl roof on: August 02, 2011, 07:32:04 PM
Isn't it amazing, the paranoia that existed between the teams at this time, that a vinyl roof should be so controversial. Donohue also ran wide flexible piping from his engine bay through the bodywork and doors which exited into the rear wheel wells to help extract heat from the engine bay. This also gained plenty of interest.
68  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 02, 2011, 07:12:40 PM
Guys, many thanks for your compliments on the painting. Its been a few years since I painted anything, but they were fun to do at the time.

Jon, yes there is a definite 2nd gen Camaro influence in the side styling of the Monaro, but possibly even more so it was influenced by the Pontiac GTO and Le Mans. The front in particular has Le Mans influences. It was important that there be a clear family lineage in the styling of GM cars around the world. But it was the US styling that led the way.
69  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 05:07:02 PM
Years ago, when I had a little more available spare time, I used to do large oil paintings on canvas. I only used two colours, black and white. I liked the b/w for historic paintings. Seemed to work well. Anyway, this is one I did of Bob Janes Camaro, in the final round of the 1971 ATCC in which he narrowly won the championship from Allan Moffats Mustang. Whoever won the race would win the title, and it was this close at the finsih.

70  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 04:30:41 PM
In 1972, Bob Jane was already looking to replace his ZL1 Camaro, and had a Holden HQ Monaro built. As he owned a General Motors Dealership and Holden was the Australian branch of General Motors, it made sense from a marketing perspective to be racing a local product. The HQ Monaro was fitted with coil-springs on the rear, but otherwise was similar in many ways to the Camaro, and could be fitted with a small block Chevy, as the biggest engine available for the car was a 350 Chev.

The small block Chevy was built by Al Bartz, with Warren Brownfield alloy heads. John Sheppard, who was a Jane employee built for car for Bob Jane, then fitted a self-modified Lucas mechanical fuel injection system, and was getting 600hp.

The Monaro made its debut in 1972, driven by John Harvey, while Bob Jane himself continued to drive his Camaro until the Monaro was fully sorted. Bob Jane raced the car until the end of the 1977 season. Here he is chasing another Monaro at Calder Park, this being Pete Geoghegans car, which was also fitted with a fuel injected small block Chevy, and Ford GT40 wheels!

Some video footage of the Geoghegan Monaro in its second season with ugly widened bodywork and racing against Allan Moffats DeKon Monza can be viewed here:

Note in the footage, Jim Smith is shown racing the old Bob Jane Camaro in mid field, as is John Pollard, racing the ex Frank Gardner SCA Freight Camaro which I'll cover also.

Anyway, I promise this will be the last post on non-Camaros.

71  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 04:04:32 PM
Of all the Camaro's that raced down-under, this car was the most successful. It was built up for Bob Jane from a genuine 1969 ZL1, to compete in the Australian Touring Car Championship. The ATCC at the time had a maximum engine size limit of 7,000cc, so Jane was able to run the car with the alloy 427. The car took a full year to build, and made its ATCC debut in 1971. Jane is a very successful businessman who at the time owned the largest General Motors dealership in the Southern Hemisphere, and his nationwide tire chain called Bob Jane T-Marts.

He'd raced a succession of Mustangs in the ATCC but hadn't achieved the success he'd hoped with these, so set about building this car. Bob had close ties with the McLaren racing team, who provided info to help with the rollcage construction and suspension. The plan had been to fit fuel-injection as the Mclaren Can-Am cars were running at the time, but the project was running late for the opening round of the '71 ATCC, and so a big 1180cfm Holley was fitted to the top of the 427. But Bob put the car on pole in the opening round of the ATCC, even though he placed 2nd in the race behind Allan Moffats Kar-Kraft Boss Mustang in wet conditions. The team realised then the single Holley should be up to the job.

I'm unsure of power figures, but John Sawyer, who oversaw the build of the car, said it had upward of 600hp. The real problem the team had was holding gearboxes together, as the Muncie M-21 and M-22 casings kept breaking under the load. So a steel casing was fabricated, then sand blasted and anodised to look like it was alloy, and this worked well. The rear end was a full-floating 12-bolt and Watts-linkage. Wheels were 15" x 10" Minilites.

Jane narrowly won the '71 ATCc with this car from Moffats Mustang, then the Confederation for Australian Motorsports (CAMS) imposed a 6,000cc engine limit for 1972, so the 427 was pulled and replaced with a small block. With this fitted, Jane won the ATCC again in '72. Jane used to regularly rev it to 9,000rpm, so it was a strong little engine.

It was sold to Jim Smith in 1973, but never enjoyed much success again as a road race car, and was eventually converted into a drag car. It was bought back by Bob Jane several years ago and restored by Myles Johnson. More info on the restoration can be found here:

72  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 03:16:14 PM
Thanks again for your compliments Jon, very much appreciated.
73  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: ZL1 CAMARO SCCA ? on: August 01, 2011, 03:15:35 PM
Yes Jon, Bob drove the drag car. He liked to be involved with the drag racing side of Calder Park. He had an HQ Monaro built in 1972 to replace his orange ZL1 and he sometimes did a bit of drag racing with this car also from time to time, even though it was a road race car.
74  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 30, 2011, 06:45:19 PM
Jon, thanks so much for your kind words about The Roaring Season. Yes, there was a lot of hard work involved, and still is, as there would have been with you creating this amazing forum you have here. But the hard work is all worth it when new people join the forum and contribute their own stories and photos. I worry sometimes people think its a New Zealand forum, when my intention is that it be international, but its only been running for 3 months, and a large number of the members are Kiwis, so it may give that impression. I'm very pleased in that members of the forum are now organising their own Roaring Season get-togethers, at certain venues in NZ and Australia, where they can meet up and shoot the breeze. I always intended that it be a community, so this is very encouraging.

Re the Beechey Monaro, yes it is impressive how subtle they were able to keep the flares. The Australian regulations at the time were quite strict, in that the shape of the production vehicle had to be retained as much as possible. 1970 was the first year teams were allowed to fit 10" wide wheels. Prior to that it was 8", same as the Trans-Am.

Beechey used two different gearboxes in the Monaro, depending on which track he was racing at. He had a close-ratio Muncie, and a Saginaw. The Saginaw really only retained the Saginaw casing. Inside was a set of straight cut gears machined by Australian gearbox specialist Peter Hollinger. Hollinger created a very tall 3rd gear so Beechey could by-pass some gears on certain tracks. On the top of the gear lever Beechey had a small trigger hand throttle device linked to the carbs. On down changes he would blip the hand throttle, rather than having to heel-toe, as he felt this set-up was more sensitive than the traditional heel-toe.

The rear end was a full-floating custom made 12-bolt with additional GM clutch plates and factory heavy-duty sprint pack. The axles were 30-spline custom made steel billet.

This was a very trick car for its day.  
75  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: ZL1 CAMARO SCCA ? on: July 30, 2011, 06:24:10 PM
Guys, Bob Jane purchased two new ZL1 Camaros in 1969. One was an orange manual car (VIN 610732) the other a blue auto (VIN 620934). Bob Jane owns a race track in Melbourne, Australia, called Calder Park. Calder has a very long front straight that doubles as a drag strip when not being used as a road race track.

The orange Camaro was stripped and built into a road race car utilising the alloy big block. Jane raced this car in the 1971 and '72 Australian Touring Car Championship, winning the championship on both occasions. But it only raced with the 427 in 1971, as the Confederation for Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) placed a 6,000cc engine limit for 1972, so Jane pulled the 427 and fitted a 350. The 427 was sold to Frank Gardner, for a 2nd generation Camaro he raced in Europe sponsored by SCA Freight.

The blue Camaro was built up for drag racing, and Jane raced this at his Calder Park drag strip. Jane raced it with the 427 for a couple of years, then pulled that out, and replaced it with a small block. However, Jane kept the 427. The orange road race car was sold in 1973, and I think the blue drag car was sold the same year. It was eventually converted for road use, and was involved in a collision on the road in the 1980s, stripped of its salvagable parts, and the rest was scrapped.

The orange race car was road raced by Jim Smith for a few seasons, then sold a couple more times, then bought by a fellow named Mike Tydell, who converted it for drag racing. When Bob Jane eventually bought the car back, it was in poor shape, as can be seen in the thread Jon has posted above on its restoration. But it has now been restored back to its 1971 guise by Myles Johnson. The engine fitted when the car was restored was that originally fitted to the blue drag car, when Jane had kept.

Hope that clears things up slightly?
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