No, it’s not a rock band but there was plenty of noise and a lot of fans. Bob Jane drove many sensational cars over the course of his long and successful racing career and three of them were Ford Mustangs. They were a 1965 model, a 67 and a 1968 Trans-Am.
Jane addressed a meeting of the Mustang Owners Club in Melbourne on 20 May and was made an honorary member. Now in his mid-80s, he reminisced about racing Mustangs in the days before they became classic cars.
The 65 is possibly the best known of Jane’s Mustangs, mainly due to the spectacular crash in which he rolled the car several times at Catalina Park circuit. “The car finished the right way up, the windscreen was smashed and one of the Weber carburettors was in my lap on fire,” he said. While the car was demolished, Jane was fortunate to escape with a bruised elbow.
His interest in racing was kindled in the late 1950s by contests with the young Norm Beechey when they would deliver advertising copy to the Spencer Street offices of Melbourne’s Age newspaper late at night. They would return to their base in the suburb of Brunswick “up Elizabeth Street, through the Haymarket to Sydney Road, there were no traffic lights in those days.” He obtained an ex-Sterling Moss Maserati 300S and entered it in events at Fisherman’s Bend and the Victorian Tourist Trophy at Albert Park in 1958.
By the early 60s, Jane knew Carroll Shelby through Shelby’s Californian tyre business. “I would often be on to him to get loads of tyres sent to Australia. We became friends.” A few years later this association bore fruit as Shelby was given responsibility for Ford’s Mustang racing program. A visit to Shelby American in Los Angeles led to Jane being given the latest performance parts. “I was told I could have anything I wanted and filled up a suitcase with all sorts of bits and pieces,” said Jane.
In addition to the Mustangs and Maserati, Jane campaigned in Jaguars, Mercedes-Benz, Cortina GTs, Chevy Camaros and Holden’s Torana and Monaro among others. He never let brand loyalty stand in the way of success. While racing Mustangs he was also a Holden (GMH) car dealer. “I always wanted to drive the car that had the best chance of winning,” he said.
He did plenty of that. Jane’s career highlights include winning the Australian Touring Car Championship four times, along with four wins in the Armstrong 500 and an Australian GT Championship.