IT was the weekend that Harry Firth believed was a turning point in Peter Brock’s career.
Brock, Firth and a sole Holden Dealer Team Torana XU-1 headed to Macau in November 1971 to take part in the touring car support race at the Macau Grand Prix event.
Firth’s story of the weekend can be heard in the latest episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco, which features an interview recorded with the ‘Fox’ in 2008.
Listen to the episode in the player below!
Modified slightly from Series Production trim, the XU-1 was undermatched against international Group 2-spec touring cars, led by the Ford Capri RS2600 of newly-crowned European Touring Car Champion and Spa 24 Hours winner Dieter Glemser.
Neither the German ace nor Brock had raced at the demanding street circuit before, although Firth had an idea that gave his young charge a leg up.
“A taxi fare (was) two dollars, unlimited mileage; after 50 laps of the circuit (the taxi driver) wanted another two dollars!” Firth explained.
“We were up against the German Capri V6 works car – twin-overhead cam, race tyres, every mortal thing – with Glemser, the champion of his class.
“I said, ‘Peter, don’t worry about him, just you get out there and drive,’ (and) in the practice, Brock’s fastest.”
Glemser came back to take pole and the wins in both the heat and the final, while Brock brought the Torana home second in the main race.
“(A) twenty lap race of a six (kilometre) circuit, he was only one minute behind at the finish; he did very, very well,” Firth surmised.
“I said, ‘Peter, just let this be a lesson to you, don’t take any notice of the opposition, no matter what they are, or what they’re supposed to be, or anything, it’s the result what counts.’
“Peter came back from that a totally different person. Realised what international (racing) was all about. Totally different world.
“And (he) realised that he was as good as any of them. All he had to do was have the proper machine.
“So when we got back, of course, he went up the ladder another rung.”
Less than 12 months later, Brock secured the first of his eventual nine Bathurst triumphs with a drive that established him as one of the country’s top touring car drivers.
While the Macau trip was serious business, Firth also shared a light-hearted tale from a product launch for clothing company sponsor Levi’s on the eve of the meeting.