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‘The Bear’s lost Bathurst 1000 chance

ON the list of the best local racers that never started a Bathurst 1000, Kent Youlden’s name is surely near the top.

Despite eye-catching performances in Sports Sedans in the 1970s and his pair of Australian Production Car titles in the early 1990s, ‘The Bear’ never did get a crack at going touring car racing.

However, he did come very close to having a run in the ‘Great Race’, although the long-time Ford employee would have been doing so in a Holden Torana, driving for Peter Brock!

“He definitely had the talent,” Youlden’s son, 2017 Bathurst-winner Luke Youlden, told the latest issue of Australian Muscle Car Magazine.

“He did have the opportunity to race with (Team) Brock in 1977. Dad had a very exuberant racing style. He was very loose and there are a lot of photos of his (Sports Sedan) Torana sideways.

“They were looking at him for Bathurst, but they thought he was way too loose and that he would wreck the car.

“I think Phil Brock told him that he messed up big time.”

The Bill Patterson-backed Team Brock squad fielded three cars in that year’s ‘Great Race’; an A9X hatch for the brothers Brock, an A9X four-door for international stars Gerry Marshall and Basil van Rooyen, and an L34 four-door that, in lieu of Youlden, was steered by veterans Tony Roberts and Doug Chivas.

While he never raced a touring car at Mount Panorama, Youlden earnt success in the Bathurst 12 Hour in the early 1990s.

Along with finishing second alongside younger brother Brett and production car rival Ken Douglas in a Ford-supported Laser TX3 in the inaugural event in 1991, the Youldens won their class with Chris Muscat in an EB Falcon XR6 in the 1993 race.

Another touring car sliding-doors moment came in between, when Youlden was given a chance to turn laps aboard one of Dick Johnson Racing’s Ford Sierra during a test at Mallala in 1992.

“That was after Dad had driven the Ford Laser TX3 in the (1992) Bathurst 12 Hour with Brett and Dick Johnson,” Luke added.

“(John) Bowe told him he did very well in the Sierra, but it didn’t go further.

“I think there were a couple of other opportunities, but they didn’t work out. I think that would be a regret of his, but I never actually spoke to him about it.”

The snippets are part of a posthumous Muscle Man feature on ‘The Bear’, who sadly passed away last year.

His career with stories from Youlden’s life and career shared by Luke, Brett, and a co-worker of Youlden’s at Ford Australia.

Also in AMC Issue 143, new evidence changes what was always believed about the history of Ford Australia chief Bill Bourke’s legendary 428ci Ford Falcon XW GT company car, a rundown on all the action at the Phillip Island Classic, as well as a feature on Australia’s top 25 drag racing muscle cars from the early years of the sport.

Click HERE to buy Australian Muscle Car Magazine Issue 143.

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