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