AUSSIE motorsport legend Bill Brown has reportedly passed away in Sydney this morning at the age of 81.
One of the sport’s most well-known amateur drivers of the 1960s and 70s, Brown didn’t start racing until he was 21.
After starting in a 1600 Super Porsche, he formed a relationship with David McKay via Spencer Martin and drove for McKay’s team. He won the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour with Greg Cusack in a Ferrari 250LM in 1967.
Brown made 10 Bathurst 500/1000 starts, making his debut in 1964 at the wheel of a Vauxhall Viva alongside Martin and the duo took a class victory.
He raced a range of Falcons and Toranas in the ‘Great Race’ as well as a Charger, Escort and Capri, his last start coming in 1978 in a Capri with Sue Ransom.
He and then-wife Ransom (they were divorced before they then again drove together in the race in 1978) finished 11th in 1975 in an Escort RS2000, marking the best-ever finish in the race’s history by a husband and wife combination.
However, he’s best known in Bathurst history for rolling along the McPhillamy Park fence in the 1971 race after a tyre had blown on his Falcon GTHO and sent him into one of the most spectacular accidents in the race’s history.
The accident was caught on Channel 7 cameras and, amazingly, Brown emerged largely unscathed while the V8 muscle car was bent like a banana and declared a write-off.
It wasn’t the first time he had found himself on his roof at Bathurst. In 1969 Brown’s Falcon flipped at the top of the Mountain as a huge multi-car crash on the first lap unfolded around him.
He continued racing into the 1970s, including spending time racing a Porsche 911 sportscar, before giving the sport away before the close of the decade.
V8 Sleuth passes on its condolences to Bill’s family, friends and racing fans.