THIS edition of RIP Racers was prompted by a question to the V8 Sleuth Podcast asking the whereabouts of the Tim Slako and Alf Barbagallo Group A Holden Commodores from 1989.
While the Slako car survives and has since been repurchased by its original builder, sadly the other is long gone.
The two Perth racing identities banded together to form a professional touring car team based in the west, with Slako building a pair of identical pink and black Commodores during 1988.
Listen to the full Q&A episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast in the player below!
Delays in sourcing parts for the new Group A SV evolution package meant the team missed its planned debut at the 1988 Tooheys 1000, and the two cars instead had their first race at the Wanneroo 300 at the end of the year.
The pair finished in third place in Barbagallo’s #77 car, which carried the chassis number BMS.WR.001 in honour of ‘Barbagallo Motor Sport’ and Slako’s ‘West Racing’ outfit.
Barbagallo and Slako campaigned the stunning Commodores in local Sports Sedan and Group A races during 1989 before joining the Australian Touring Car Championship circus as it made its western swing.
In Barbagallo’s first major touring car race – he was a decorated speedway racer prior to linking with Slako – he qualified 13th and came home 11th, right behind his teammate in tricky wet-but-drying conditions.
He again qualified 13th a week later at Mallala but failed to finish, and notched up another DNF in the following round at Sandown.
It was the last time the two cars ran an ATCC round together under the Barbagallo Motor Sport banner as the relationship between Barbagallo and Slako soured.
However, the pair combined at the end of the year to win the Wanneroo 300 in BMS.WR.001, and took it to a few wins in WA’s local Endurance Series over the next couple of years.
The car was eventually sold to Phill Johnson – father of future V8 Utes star Grant – in 1992, who purchased the sister Slako car the following year.
The mechanicals from BMS.WR.001 were transferred into the Slako car – which Johnson continued racing – while the Barbagallo shell was sold off.
The Slako car was eventually tracked down by Troy Stapleton, who restored it and raced it successfully in Heritage Touring Cars, and has since been bought back by Slako.
However, the story doesn’t end quite as well for the Barbagallo shell.
“It went through a few different hands before ending up being modified for drag racing, but it wasn’t accepted because of its rollcage design,” Stapelton told Australian Muscle Car.
“The gentleman who owned it ended up taking whatever bits he could off it and chopping up a lot of the car.
“What was left was taken to the local tip in around 2000.”