Sandown Park was a happy hunting ground for the Falcon GTHO. Wins in the 1969 Three Hour, the 1972 Sandown 250 and numerous Touring Car Championship events are part of the folklore. So when the Falcon GT Nationals came to Melbourne for 2015, there was no more appropriate venue.
More than 200 gleaming examples of Ford’s Australian muscle car make for an impressive sight. All the variations from the GT Gold XR of 1967 through the Phases I, II and III of the GTHO, the hardtop era and on into the 21st century. There’s no doubt that the early model cars take pride of place at these events, evoking an era of spectacular racing that many current owners now fondly remember from their childhood.
The work of the racing engineers and technicians who prepared the great cars is being recognised by the Ford GTHO Lot 6 Foundation, a non-profit organisation started by former team manager Al Turner. The Foundation is named after the location of the Ford Special Vehicles Department in Melbourne.
Turner’s daughter Lori and son-in-law Peter Dietze manage the foundation, which aims to provide scholarships for talented young motor sport technicians and engineers along with support for former Lot 6 personnel in need.
One of the legendary Ford drivers of that era, Murray Carter, attended the Nationals with the Phase III GTHO he campaigned in 1972 and 73. Looking over the gleaming red car, he says “It’s beautifully restored. In fact it’s a lot better than it was when it was new. Everything is perfect.”
Carter was happy to chat at length about racing in the golden era of series production. “It was really a sport then. The drivers were friends and often helped each other out. I remember one occasion when I was short on pit crew. Peter Brock said his brother Phil wasn’t doing anything so he could help us change a tyre. That was the way things were.”
Memorably, Carter once went so far as to loan Allan Moffat the car we were standing beside after Moffat’s was stolen from a workshop the night before the Touring Car Championship round in Adelaide in 1973. Moffat drove Carter’s GTHO to second place, which kept him in the lead in the championship and helped him secure his first Australian title.
Murray Carter is still involved with motor sport and his latest project is a Chevrolet Corvette. But that’s a story for another day, not at the Falcon GT Nationals.