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How a legend shaped Keed’s career

ONE name regularly pops up when Phil Keed tells the story of his career in motorsport.

Colin Bond.

Keed joined the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Castrol this week in the first of a two-part episode looking back at his time in the sport to date, which includes over a decade in rallying in Australia and overseas prior to joining the Supercars scene full-time in 2003.

Bond bookends the entire period, from Keed’s very first involvement in the sport to his three years in Europe working for Prodrive on its Subaru rally programs.

“There’s a recurring theme of Bondy popping up at various points in my career and making some magic happen,” Keed explained.

The first time, however, it was a 15-year-old Keed that popped up in Bond’s career.

“I grew up in Sydney, the Chatswood area, and I realised their shop was just over in Gladesville,” he said.

“When I was in, I think, Year 9 – so around 15 (years old) – I just rang up the workshop to see if I could get involved. I can’t remember how I got the number, but I just cold-called.”

It worked though, and soon a teenage Keed was catching the bus after school to Bondy’s workshop, spending the afternoon working as a helper, then getting picked up by his mum at the end of the day, while he also joined the team trackside at local events.

“To go out to the races, mum would drop me off at Bondy’s place down at Hunters Hill and I’d get a lift out to Amaroo when those races were on,” Keed said.

“At the time he lived about five minutes away so he’d be in and out of the workshop all the time. Just a lovely guy; I’m still really fond of him now and he always comes and says hello at the track. He took a bit of an interest in me and was always really encouraging and helpful.”

It was during this period that Keed’s career began to take a clear direction, albeit not the one he’d originally intended.

“At that time I thought I wanted to be a race driver, but I was smart enough to realise you needed a back-stop, so I thought I wanted to be a mechanic because I really idolised the boys in the shop,” he said.

“I used to tell the boys that and, after a little while, once they saw how bad I was at mechanic-type things, they all said ‘young Phil, you really need to go to uni and become an engineer: this is where it’s all happening.’

“They were really polite about it, but I think they also realised that I would be a terrible mechanic – which I would. I really don’t have the strengths and characteristics that you need to be a successful mechanic.

“My poor mum was trying to stop me from leaving school at Year 10 and doing an apprenticeship, and the boys out at Bondy’s were the catalyst to refocus, stay at school and try and get into engineering.

Keed was part of the Bond team when it claimed third place in the 1988 Bathurst 1000, with former F1 world champion Alan Jones co-driving. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

“Bondy actually introduced me to Bob Riley, who was his old engineer from the very early days, who was running Ralliart Australia at that stage, so I switched across to helping them out.”

Keed’s time with the Mitsubishi-aligned squad was headlined by working on Galants and Lancers piloted by the likes of Ed Ordynski, and at rallies around Australia and into the Asia-Pacific region.

But the itch to move on to something bigger came towards the end of the 1990s – and Bond popped up once again.

“We were at the Rally Australia afterparty and Bondy was there,” Keed said.

“He’d given me a lift in the ‘Zero’ course car – I remember hanging onto the rollcage in the back! – and I must’ve mentioned that I was really keen to go overseas.

“The night went on and on and on – it was one of those really late nights that we used to have after the rallies.

“Bondy, at about 1am, grabbed me and just dragged me over and, instantly, there’s (Prodrive chiefs) David Richards and David Lapworth!

“He introduced me (and) I remember feeling deeply stressed at the level of intoxication I probably had at that stage and trying not to make a complete goose of myself.

“I don’t think it went too badly, because I got a letter two-to-three weeks later from the Prodrive customer (rally) department, saying (Lapworth) had passed us your details and said you might be interested.”

In the podcast, Keed shares more stories from his time at Prodrive, including working with Tommi Makinen as the Finnish multiple world champion’s engineer during the 2002 World Rally Championship.

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