Saturday Sleuthing: Bathurst Runner-Up

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 11/05/2013
  • By V8 Sleuth

We delve backinto the mid-1990s today on Saturday Sleuthing and focus on the car that ransecond to Larry Perkins in LP’s famous ‘last to first’ 1995 Bathurst win.

Today onSaturday Sleuthing we’ve decided to focus in on a Glenn Seton Racing-builtFalcon that has in recent times been restored to its familiar blue colours.

The increaseof collectors and V8 Supercar enthusiasts securing 1990s Commodores and Falconsis on the rapid rise and one of them is Ballarat’s Andre Matheson, who hasrestored the 1995 Alan Jones/Allan Grice Bathurst 1000 runner-up PJ Falcon (GSRchassis 5) to the #35 colours it carried 18 years ago when it narrowly missedclaiming the ultimate prize in Australian motorsport at Mount Panorama.

“I’m a Fordman through and through and I had the opportunity to buy it – as, well, as abit of a mid-life crisis – so I bought it and didn’t tell the missus!” ownerMatheson told our V8 Sleuth this week.

“I alwaysfollowed Glenn going back to the Sierra days and his father Bo in the Capris.This car came up and I was attracted by the history and originality of it. It’sunmolestered and three of the five mechanics that worked on it in the day havecome up and told us they can’t believe how original it is.”

Originallybuilt as an EB Falcon in 1994, the car made its debut at that year’s Bathurst1000 (running under the #1 in deference to Seton being the previous year’sAustralian Touring Car Champion) and was put on pole for The Great Race bySeton in the Top 10 Shootout.

However, heand Kiwi Paul Radisich dropped out of the race after just 82 laps with amisfire and the car only made one more appearance for the year at theend-of-season Australian Grand Prix support event in Adelaide.

It began thenext season in EB specification before being updated to EF and being run byAlan Jones in 1995 as the #35 entry, though things went wrong during the yearat Lakeside when the car caught fire.

Sidelined fora few rounds while being repaired, the former F1 World Champion returned todriving it for the final ATCC round at Oran Park plus the Sandown 500 where heshared with David ‘Skippy’ Parsons.

This was oneof the cars that found itself in hot water at that time pre-Sandown ‘95 when itwas found the Ford teams were actually running lightweight bodyshells,deliberately running with lighter gauge steel panels and thinner window glass.

It causedplenty of uproar in pit lane, so for Bathurst, the panels and glass had to meetproduction specification and, as a result of the thinner (and thus lighter)base shells, the weight limit for the category was lifted from 1300 kilogramsto 1325.

The Sandowncombination of Jones and Parsons began in #35 at Bathurst, however team bossGlenn Seton made the decision on Friday afternoon to swap drivers and choseParsons to co-drive with him, leaving Allan Grice to pair with Jones.

Jones andGrice took this car to second place at Bathurst (Grice’s last of seven podiumfinishes in the race), leading nine laps and finishing six seconds behind thewinning Castrol Commodore of Larry Perkins and Russell Ingall.

On the otherhand, Seton came within laps of winning his elusive Bathurst crown, enginefailure late in the race ending his chances with 152 of 161 laps completed inthe sister car in one of the most heart-breaking losses in Bathurst history.

To round outthe season, Seton took over the car and ran it as #30 at the Adelaide AGP (thefinal time the event was held and the last time a touring car carried tobaccosignage in this country) before the car also ran at the end-of-season PeterBrock Classic at Calder Park in Bridgestone colours.

Seton and hisfather Bo split at the end of 1995 and the 1965 Bathurst winner took this carwith him as part of his departure from GSR, selling it in 1996 to Tasmania RayHislop, who had been running an EB GT Club Car.

Hislopappeared in a handful of Shell ATCC rounds in 1997 and 1998 and he and fellowTasmanian Tim Briggs ran the car at Bathurst in both years, finishing 14thoutright (and second in the control tyre privateer class) in 1998.

The car wasplaced up for sale and eventually purchased by former Formula 3 driver DavidBruce with the intent of competing in the inaugural season of the Dunlop Seriesin 2000 (then known as Konica V8 Lites).

That, however,did not eventuate and the car was updated to EL specification and painted adarker blue, spending time on display at the Ford Discovery Centre in Geelong,Victoria.

Purchased byDavid Gardner in late 2010, it was then on-sold to current owner Matheson lastyear.

Since then ithas been put back into its 1995 Bathurst colours, EF specification and #35Jones/Grice livery and been on display at a range of events, including thisyear’s Phillip Island Historics as part of a display from the recently formedAustralian Five-Litre Touring Car Association – a group formed by a range ofowners of ex-V8 Supercars.

There are somesmall elements to be changed on the car to get it 100 percent right back to its1995 Bathurst-spec and livery, but it’s a living, breathing form of mid-1990sfive-litre racing.

“The shell isthe original colour, we just touched up the exterior and put the decals on,”says Matheson.

“Butoriginality was a big thing I was looking for in purchasing this car.

“Since we’vehad it, we’ve met Gricey and Bo Seton, who is only a phone call away. We’ve hadopportunities to run the car and meet people and show it off. We gave it a runthe other week at Phillip Island and for fans it evokes great memories. I thinkGlenn had a much bigger fan base than most people probably realised at thetime.

“Troy Kelly looks after the servicing and maintenance of the car. He works atthe Ford proving grounds, so he’s the right man for the job. We display andparade the car and have done some Make-A-Wish rides for kids in it.

“It’s bookedto go to the Muscle Car Masters again this year for some display laps and Troyhas started an association for five-litre touring cars, so it’s all starting togain great momentum within the group of owners of these types of cars.

 “I don’t fancy racing it. It’s too original ofa car for that. But I’ve bought an EB Falcon with a cage so we’re thinking ofbuilding a replica of my car when it ran in EB trim and sat on pole at Bathurstin 1994.”

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