BATHURST-WINNING MONARO’S WINNING STREAK

The Bond/Roberts #44D heading down the mountain on its way to victory in the 1969 Bathurst 500. Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

IT’S the Monaro that gave Holden a first-up factory success in ‘The Great Race’, but victory in the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst was far from the only prized silverware earned by the car.

In fact, there was a period where the combination of the HDT Monaro and driver Colin Bond was unbeatable.

The car began its racing life with its biggest headline triumph, one of a fleet of three GTS 350 Monaros entered for Bathurst by the new Holden Dealer Team.

The HDT Monaros are among the many cars depicted in the new book Racing the Lion: An Illustrated History of Holden in Australian Motorsport, a 400-page hardcover book paying tribute to the marque’s rich competition history spanning over seven decades.

It’s in stock in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop – order it now HERE!

Note the number plate… Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

Bond and rally driver Tony Roberts were paired in the Monaro carrying rego plate KJK-345 and the racing number #44D – the letter denoting its place within the race’s class structure, the Monaro fitting into Class D for cars costing between $3,101 and $4,500.

The race loomed as the first straight fight between factory-backed Ford and Holden entries, the first big step in a rivalry that formed a cornerstone of the race’s history.

Victory in that first battle went to Holden: the works Fords were felled one-by-one by tyre failures after a pre-race decision to opt for Goodyear racing tyres, while the HDT Monaros maintained a steady, relentless pace armed with road-going Michelin rubber.

Bond and Roberts rose to the lead early and ran out comfortable winners, while the HDT’s other Monaros came home third and sixth.

Bond talked about the victory in a wideranging episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast focused on his legendary career – listen to the full episode in the player below!

But Bathurst was far from the final triumph together for Bond and the winning Monaro.

Bond and Roberts (R) accept the spoils of victory along with HDT team boss Harry Firth (L). Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

Their next race together was in Queensland at the ‘Lakeside 1500’ meeting that November – where Bond duly won. He repeated the dose in a Series Production race at Warwick Farm in December aboard the Monaro – still wearing the KJK-345 plates.

Its next race, however, was arguably even more arduous than the Bathurst 500.

Bond and Roberts paired once again to race the Monaro at the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour in January 1970, the race starting in the heat of a Queensland summer’s day and ending well after dark.

Despite a track surface that was falling apart causing a litany of tyre trouble for all competitors, Bond and Roberts repeated their Bathurst success aboard the very same Monaro that had won at Mount Panorama.

The HDT Monaro took the chequered flag after 435 laps of Surfers Paradise Raceway, a race distance of 1,400km – almost 600km longer than at Bathurst!

Bond charging through the infield at Warwick Farm in February 1970. Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

While Bond posted yet another win in the car at Warwick Farm in January, besting a factory Ford presence, the 12 Hour win was the Monaro’s final major circuit race success, Firth and the HDT switching their focus to Holden’s six-cylinder Torana for Series Production racing.

Sadly, with the Monaro’s time as Holden’s frontline weapon over, the car’s history after it was sold off by the HDT are, to this day, an unknown.

It remains a missing piece of Bathurst ‘Great Race’ history – imagine the value of such a car in today’s collector world!

Will Dale began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport for the next six years, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.