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Friday, June 21, 2024


MARCH 22 marks a significant anniversary in the career of multiple Australian Touring Car Champion and Bathurst 500/1000 winner Allan Moffat.

On that day in 1970, Moffat took his first win in a championship race in the season-opening sprint at Calder Park, a win that also marked the first championship race win for his iconic Ford Mustang Trans-Am.

The red, Coca-Cola backed machine had been racing in Australia for almost 10 months by that point, having made its race debut on May 4, 1969 at Sandown’s Southern 60 meeting.

However, the Sandown event wasn’t part of that year’s ATCC, which was conducted for the first time over a series of events instead being awarded to the victor of a one-off race.

Although starting and winning many non-championship touring car races through the rest of 1969, Moffat only made two ATCC appearances that season.

The car was entered for the Bathurst round at Easter but the Mustang had yet to arrive in Australia, instead making its ATCC debut at Mallala in June where Moffat qualified third but was a lap-2 retirement with engine issues.

Moffat working hard in the Mustang at Calder’s October meeting in 1969 – one of many non-championship touring car races the car took part in outside of the ATCC rounds. Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

The Mustang also skipped the Surfers Paradise round in August before returning for the finale at in November at Symmons Plains, where Moffat again qualified third but was out early with overheating.

The 1970 season-opener therefore marked only the third ATCC appearance for the Mustang and Moffat’s fourth, having made his championship debut with a fourth place in Sandown’s 1965 title race.

Conducted on Calder’s original 1.6-kilometre layout, Moffat claimed his maiden ATCC pole position and ran out the winner by just over seven seconds after 50 laps.

The Coca-Cola Mustang didn’t have it all its own way, Moffat battling with a charging Norm Beechey aboard his brand-new Holden Monaro HT GTS 350.

Beechey charged from 12th on the grid to pass early-leader Moffat, only for a tangle with a slower car to fold a guard onto the yellow Holden’s tyre.

The subsequent delay effectively left Moffat unchallenged for the victory, with all his other main opposition also out of contention.

Fellow front-row starters Bob Jane and Ian Geoghegan both had dramas with their Mustangs after running well-up early – in fact, Moffat and Jane rubbed panels as the former came through to lap the latter!

And as for reigning ATCC champion Geoghegan, his spectacular exit on Lap 16 is best illustrated with a photo:

A broken rear axle sent the left-rear wheel under Geoghegan’s Mustang, pitching him high into the air at the first corner and leaving him a spectacular retirement. Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell

That left Moffat’s closest challengers as the two Porsches of Brian Foley and Jim McKeown, the only other cars to finish on the lead lap.

Also worthy of note was the pilot of the car who finished in 16th place, 30 laps down aboard an enthusiastically-driven EH Holden: Garry Rogers.

Garry Rogers made the first of 20 ATCC round starts as a driver at the Calder round in 1970. Pic: an1images.com / Terry Russell
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