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When Brock, Moffat were both banned from racing

FOR this edition of Ryco Rewind, we’re looking back at a scenario that’s hard to imagine nowadays: at the height of the factory-backed touring car wars of the 1970s, both Holden and Ford’s star drivers were forced to the sidelines for a championship round.

The Calder Park round of the 1978 Australian Touring Car Championship took place on May 28 of that year, but Peter Brock and the Holden Dealer Team weren’t there.

Neither was Allan Moffat and his Moffat Ford Dealers outfit.

The absence of Australian touring car racing’s two biggest stars was the result of a controversial race at Sandown on April 16.

Reigning champion Moffat had taken his first win of the season after a thrilling four-way dice for the win.

Moffat crossed the line just under two seconds ahead of Ian Geoghegan in Bob Jane’s Holden Torana, who had Bob Morris in the Ron Hodgson A9X on his rear bumper, while polesitter Brock was a further second adrift in fourth.

Moffat and some of his crew celebrate on the victory lap following the Sandown win. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

But if you look up the final results of that race, it shows Geoghegan receiving the ninth and last ATCC race win of his career, with Morris second and Allan Grice third.

After the race, scrutineers impounded both the #1 Falcon and the #05 Torana and sealed their engines for closer inspection the following week.

The investigations led to both cars being excluded from the Sandown results; Moffat for an engine fitted with roller rocker arms, Brock for an illegally-fitted front sway bar.

It was the culmination of months of frustration for the former.

After blowing numerous engines trying to extract more horsepower while using the standard pressed-steel rocker arm, Moffat allegedly fitted the roller rockers – illegal under Group C touring car rules – for the Amaroo Park round one week prior to Sandown, where he was passed for the win on the final corner by Grice.

The discovery of the roller rockers in his Sandown engine led to his exclusion, although the stewards didn’t suggest a licence suspension – that came after an appeal from CAMS itself!

In the end, Moffat was suspended for the six weeks following the Sandown race, which forced him out of the Calder Park round.

Brock was still racing the A9X hatchback that John Harvey started the season in, after Harvey crashed Brock’s two-door at Amaroo. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

For the Holden Dealer Team, its exclusion – prompted by a multi-point protest by Moffat – also left a bitter taste, as it had been trying to gain a ruling over the front sway mount since early in the season.

The factory Holden squad appealed the exclusion but it was upheld by the tribunal, which handed both team and driver a suspension of four weeks.

However, in contrast to Moffat’s, Brock and the HDT’s suspension was not retrospective – indeed, Brock won the Wanneroo round between Sandown and Calder! – and was eventually cut to two weeks on appeal, which still forced him out of the Calder round.

The team suspensions stripped four cars from the entry for Calder, with both of Brock and Moffat’s teammates – John Harvey and Colin Bond – also sidelined.

Morris took a comfortable win at Calder in both Brock and Moffat’s abscences. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

That left the way clear for Morris to lead all 50 laps on the way to victory at Calder, a task made easier when closest challengers Allan Grice and Charlie O’Brien collided in the early stages.

The Calder round is notable for another reason beyond the factory teams’ absences, however.

In second place was Dick Johnson, the best race finish of his ATCC career to that point.

The Calder race delivered Johnson’s best ATCC result to date. Pics: an1images / Ian Smith, Dale Rodgers

This story is the latest in our series of Ryco Rewind stories as we take a look back through Australian motorsport history and explore the great races, drivers and cars from the past on the relevant anniversary.

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