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Author Topic: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds  (Read 26426 times)
Steve Holmes
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« Reply #90 on: August 05, 2012, 10:15:42 PM »

I was excited by a new collection of historic Australian racing photographs posted on The Roaring Season recently, from Dale Harvey. Dale's photos were taken during the 1960s and early '70s, at New South Wales venues including Bathurst, Warwick Farm, Oran Park, Amaroo, and Newcaslte Hillclimb.

In amongst them are two photos that show the Norm Beechey '68 Camaro. This car is quite mysterious, in that Beechey appears to have raced it only four times, then it completely disappeared, and has never been found. Beechey debuted the car at Warwick Farm in July 1968, to replace his Chevy Nova, photos of which I posted here earlier. The Camaro still required some development at WF, but was competitive with the front runners. At Calder, its second event, Beechey beat Pete Geoghegans previously dominant Mustang. Then at Catalina Park, Geoghegan just beat off Beechey, but had to work incredibly hard for the win. Clearly the Camaro had plenty of potential.

Up until 1968, the Australian Touring Car Championship was a single race, rather than a full series. The 1968 ATCC was held at Warwick Farm in September 1968. This was the Camaro's fourth, and, as far as I can tell, final race. Geoghegan qualified fastest, from Beechey, by half a second, and Bob Jane in a Trans-Am Mustang was third fastest. The first two photos posted here are from that race. Geoghegan went on to win, while Beechey only lasted 12 laps before retiring.

Then the Camaro was replaced by an Australian HK Monaro, the yellow car in the third photo. Curiously, Beechey came to New Zealand in late 1968 to race, but rather than bringing either the Camaro or Monaro, he brought his old Nova!

After its ATCC race at Warwick Farm, the Camaro appears never to have raced again. I'm sure it had more potential than the bulky Monaro, but I think Beechey must have had some pressure from General Motors Australia to race an Aussie product. But what I don't understand is why the Camaro wasn't purchased by another competitor. Beechey was a top driver, with well developed cars which all found eager buyers after he'd finished with them, but the Camaro never raced again. Myles Johnson, who I think is a member on this forum (thunder427), actually saw the Beechey Camaro in a used car yard when he first moved to Australia from New Zealand. He tried to buy it, but couldn't muster up the funds. The Camaro has since vanished, and never re-emerged.

The rest of the photos from the Dale Harvey Collection can be viewed on The Roaring Season, for anyone who is interested: www.theroaringseason.com





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Jon Mello
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« Reply #91 on: August 06, 2012, 01:48:38 AM »

Steve, many thanks for thinking of us and posting those terrific photos over here. It is a shame that Norm's Camaro has not been found but such is the case with many of these old race cars. Hopefully somebody will keep picking away at it and eventually solve the mystery of what became of the car.
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Jon Mello
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L22K19
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« Reply #92 on: October 15, 2012, 06:01:52 AM »

Some more of the Bryan Thompson car.
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L22K19
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« Reply #93 on: October 15, 2012, 06:03:06 AM »

I finally got around to doing what I have promised people many times before. I have scanned all of the photo's I have of the Bryan Thompson car as I viewed it back in 2003 with the intention of buying it for one of my clients at the time. As you can see, other classes of racing have taken their toll on the car and there was not much left of the main boby shell. The original motor that Bryan ran was for sale seperately in Tasmania, the gearbox's where abouts was unknown, and the 12 bolt disc brake rear end was also somewhere unknown but believed to have been fitted into a Ford Transit camper van of all things. The owner still had the original doors from the car but no other steel panels, just the fibreglass you see here. The original subframe along with all of the panel cut from the main shell had been taken to the rubish tip decades before.

I approached CAMS (Confederation Against Motor Sport ) to start the process of obtaining a Certificate of Description so that the vehicle could be restored and raced again. While the amount of work required was a daunting task, I was prepared to do it and myu client was prepared to pay for it, but CAMS advised that there was no enough of the car to enable them to issue a Certificate. As a result my client went cold on the idea and as I didn't have the money to purchase it myself, it stayed where it was.

I spoke to Bryan before I went to Tasmania to check out the car and he gave me some very good information on the car from his file that he had kept all these years. Somewhere I have a copy of the broadcast sheet and the Protector Plate and from memory the car was originally a Z28. When I find it along with some photos he gave me I will post them aswell.
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L22K19
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« Reply #94 on: October 15, 2012, 06:05:55 AM »

More Bryan Thompson car from 2003
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L22K19
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« Reply #95 on: October 15, 2012, 06:07:46 AM »

What a shame.
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L22K19
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« Reply #96 on: October 15, 2012, 06:09:40 AM »

I have dozens like these but I think everybody get the overall view of the condition of the car.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #97 on: October 15, 2012, 01:09:53 PM »

Many thanks for posting those photos of BT's old Camaro. It's a sad thing to see it so cut up and in poor condition. I, for one, would enjoy
seeing the original protect-o-plate and other documents for the car. Please post them here when you find an opportunity. Thanks again.
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Jon Mello
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #98 on: October 23, 2012, 01:15:11 AM »

Wow, those photos are staggering! I had no idea the Camaro became so heavily modified. It was clearly further evolved as a Sports Sedan throughout the 70s and 80s, and must have taken a huge amount of work to restore to its current condition/guise. Thanks for posting your photos.
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #99 on: October 23, 2012, 01:26:29 AM »

Finally! I was sent this beautiful photo a couple of nights ago from one of our Roaring Season members Gerard Richards. This is from Gerards own collection of photos taken by the late, great, Jack Inwood who was a highly celebrated New Zealand motorsport photographer. This is the first colour photo I have ever seen of the Terry Allan big block Camaro when it was painted blue. And it looks an absolute treat!

This is from Bay Park, exiting the hairpin, which was the only right hand corner on the whole track! Terry raced the Camaro in NZ three times, this being the first, and most successful of them.

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Jon Mello
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« Reply #100 on: October 23, 2012, 10:01:26 AM »

Terrific shot, Steve! Many thanks for sharing that with us. I know it has taken you guys a lot of time and effort to find a pic of Terry's car in blue.

Are you saying the Bryan Thomson Camaro as seen above has been restored or something? I'd like to see some pics, if possible.
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Jon Mello
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #101 on: October 23, 2012, 02:49:01 PM »

Yes thats correct Jon, its been owned by Peter Sportelli for many years, in fact, since the mid-1970s. He slowly evolved it from how it originally ran as an Improved Production car, through to becoming a Sports Sedan with the big boxed flares etc. A multi year restoration took place, and was completed in 2007. Sportelli still owns it, but its been for sale for a couple of years. Note, the car is right hand drive. Its been like this most of its life. Thomson bought it from a drag racer and converted it for road racing, and I think it was right hand drive when he bought it.

Here is a link to where the car is being advertised, with more info plus period photos and additional info:

http://www.ecurieinvestments.com.au/ex-bryan-thompson-1968-improved-production-l88-427-camaro

Here is a photo of how it looks now:




« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 03:08:32 PM by Steve Holmes » Logged

MO
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« Reply #102 on: October 23, 2012, 10:25:10 PM »

Great picture of the blue Terry Allan car. A lot of stuff going on in that photo.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #103 on: October 24, 2012, 09:52:01 AM »

Steve, thanks for posting the picture of the Bryan's car as it is today. I guess as an Improved Production car it still has the modified chassis as seen in the state of neglect above?
« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 05:29:38 PM by Jon Mello » Logged

Jon Mello
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Steve Holmes
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« Reply #104 on: October 24, 2012, 02:51:51 PM »

Jon, I'm pretty certain its been restored to its original guise, which would mean fitting the correct floor etc. Would have been a massive job, but these cars are so few and far between in Australia, and so desirable, that it would have been worth the effort.
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