THE last-lap board is out on our series of Apex Replicas RIP Racers for 2018 with our closing edition featuring a car that gave a now Supercars team owner his first Bathurst start as a driver – Garry Rogers’1978 Torana A9X.
This unique beast only lasted two racing seasons after it was involved in a mammoth shunt at Amaroo Park during an AMSCAR Series event with Rogers at the wheel in 1979.
He lost control of the Torana at the infamous Stop Corner, slamming into the concrete wall side-on as he tried to wash off speed, leaving the A9X damaged beyond repair.
The distinctive orange Torana first appeared in the hands of the late Bob Jane in 1977 sporting a striking livery with backing from 2UW, Kleber and the four-time Armstrong 500 winner’s tyre company, Bob Jane T-Marts.
It then made its first Bathurst 1000 appearance in the hands of Jane and Ian Geoghegan in the 1977 edition of The Great Race.
The pair qualified fifth in their only Bathurst start together, though the wheels quite literally fell off their campaign when the car lost a wheel only 35 laps into the race.
Geoghegan returned to the wheel of the Torana for the 1978 Australian Touring Car Championship and claimed victory at the Sandown round following the exclusion of initial winner Allan Moffat due to the infamous ‘roller rocker’ affair.
The car’s entry was then sold to Rogers in the lead up to Bathurst that year as a result of a rather unique incident that almost prevented the GRM team owner from racing at the Mountain.
A car salesman that worked for Rogers, John Andrew, had a disagreement with a gate attendant earlier in the ’78 season at Amaroo, sparking a response from the Australian Racing Drivers Club – the promoters of the big race at Bathurst.
“When I put my entry in for Bathurst, Ivan Stibbard, the manager of the ARDC rejected my entry saying that my nominated co-driver Darryl Wilcox did not have enough experience,” Rogers recalls.
“I was quite friendly with the girls in the office of the ARDC and they told me that my entry had been rejected because of John Andrew’s behaviour at Amaroo earlier in the year.
“I came up with the idea that if I bought somebody else’s entry and put a driver name change in as the event got closer that I could avoid Stibbard.”
The plan worked and Rogers lined up with Geoghegan for his first of 14 Bathurst 1000 starts, though the car only managed 29 laps this time with persistent engine problems putting them out early.
Rogers then purchased the car from Jane and raced it in ’79 until it met its demise at Amaroo Park in July.