Classic Wheels: How Peter Brock won at Bathurst

Peter Brock retells his solid success story at Mount Panorama, through the legendary Bill Tuckey

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“He made the 1979 Hardie-Ferodo dull, he drove the opposition into the ground, he proved (if proof were needed) that Peter Brock is the finest sedan car driver in Australia. Here’s how the race looked from the driver’s seat of the winning car.”

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The contents page promo from the December 1979 issue for How I Won Bathurst says it all: the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team Torana wearing the iconic 05 number started from pole and led throughout, winning effortlessly by a record, and incredible, six laps.

This was Brock and co-driver Jim Richards at their dominant, brilliant, best. Brock’s story is personal, intimate and refreshingly honest, unlike so many ghosted (for it was ghosted and most assuredly not written by Brock himelf) biographies or stories attributed to famous sporting identities.

“After the Repco [Round Australia rally, which Brock also won] I took a long time to come down. I used to have nightmares and wake up at strange times and yell like crazy for someone to get out and change a wheel or open a gate ... [team boss] John Sheppard got a bit tense about it because he felt the Repco was over and that was terrific, but he really couldn’t care a stuff now because his job was to win Sandown and then Bathurst.”

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From the start and for the first few laps Brock, “gave the car plenty and I told Sheppo over the radio that she was sweet and away we went. If you want the story of the race, that’s it. The car was a dead-set shell.” 

The story really does read the way Brocky talked.

“When I came down for the last lap I decided I wanted the lap record and would have a go. The car was fine, like a Swiss watch, and even if it stopped up the top I could bloody-near coast to the bottom and push it home and still win. So I gave it heaps, mate, heaps, and she gave me a 2:21.1, as I found out later, which was a good feeling, because I didn’t have to do a desperate to get it.”

After making his Bathurst debut in 1969 in a Monaro GTS 350, Peter Brock won the Bathurst 1000 race nine times, plus the Bathurst 24-hour race, nine Sandown 500s and was Australian Touring Car Champion three times.

Ghost with the write stuff

Almost 40 years after the event, nobody is sure who wrote How I Won Bathurst, the story attributed to Peter Brock. We do know that Brock’s consummate skill as a racing driver far exceeded his literary talent.

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The best you could ever hope to get from the mercurial driver was to sit still for a tape recorded interview. I was Wheels’ editor at the time and I’m embarrassed to admit that I simply don’t remember who ghosted the piece. I first suspected it might be Brock’s long-time PR man and friend, Tim ‘Plastic’ Pemberton, though he denies it. Former editor and long-time contributor Phil Scott also says no to being the author.

I now believe the great Bill Tuckey was the voice of Brock, hence the quality of the piece. One clue is that Bill’s alter-ego Romsey Quints penned a sidebar to the Brock story. It makes sense that Tuckey wrote both, without using his own name.  

 

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Peter Robinson
Journalist

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