IT doesn’t look like much at the moment, but this Falcon is a Bathurst winner.
OK, so it’s not an outright winner of ‘the’ Bathurst race, the 1000-kilometre classic, but it did conquer the Mountain in its class in the GT-Production 3 Hour ‘Showroom Showdown’ in 1997.
Run by production car ace Chris Sexton alongside his own EL XR6 Falcon, this car was run under the Ford Motorsport banner and was driven to victory in Class C by journalists Michael Stahl, Paul Gover and Chris Nixon.
Gover has appeared on our V8 Sleuth Podcast before, have a listen to his episode here.
Each of the journalists had driven the car in a round of the GT-Production car series in the lead-up to Bathurst, however none of the three – nor Toby Hagon who drove it in the last round of the series in ’97 at Amaroo Park – are guilty of the damage inflicted on it that you see in the photos in this story.
The guilty party?
AFL legend and former ‘The Footy Show’ star, John ‘Sam’ Newman …
Newman used the car for private practice in early 1998 prior to embarking on racing another Falcon in GT-P later that year. Of course he carried on with racing, at the wheel of a Gibson Motorsport-run Vectra in GT-P in 1999, a Hot Wheels-backed V8 Supercar at Albert Park as a wildcard entry in 2000 and then in Ferraris and a Lamborghini in Nations Cup.
He walled the EL XR6 at Calder in early ’98, the results of which were published in Motorsport News magazine, Issue 124.
In fact, that very issue of the much-loved magazine is now available to access digitally here now, along with a range of other Motorsport News back issues with more to be added over upcoming weeks and months.
The damage on the car described in the Motorsport News article matches with the front and rear right damage on the car in the more recent images.
The Falcon was found in a wrecking yard in Melbourne and purchased last year by Newcastle-based enthusiast David Perkins, a longtime friend of three-time GT-P class champion and period XR6 campaigner Chris Sexton.
There’s no doubt it’s the Bathurst class winner. But quite what it has done since and tracing its full timeline since Newman’s Calder test crash is a job even beyond the best of sleuths!
“I found it on Marketplace and initially thought it was a speedway car or something like that painted like the old GT-P car, but it was THE car!” Perkins told V8 Sleuth.
“I found Chris Sexton on Facebook and called him up, he went and got it for me and we’ve been great mates since and he’s helping me restore it. We’ve got Michael Stahl involved too and he’s really excited about it. It’s a super cool thing, my dad had a company just like it back in the day too!
“Chris dug out the logbook for it – it had been sitting in the glovebox of the XR6 EL he used to race and still has. The back window was busted out of it and the exhaust was still full of mud from the accident on the day at Calder. That was a good thing though, it’s helped preserve the engine.
“The roll cage and race seat has been taken out of it and bits and pieces from the dash have also been taken. It’s got about 12,000 kilometres on the clock.
“I’ve got a donor car, we’ll get the bits required from that and get the GT-P car back up and running in future.”
The GT-P class was a popular support category for the Australian Super Touring Championship up to the end of 1998 before it made the jump across to support V8 Supercars in the 1999 Shell Championship Series.
A range of cars that competed in the class are still around, including the Toyota Camry that also raced in Class C and is making a return to racing at this year’s Bathurst 6 Hour.