Ford Works Team (Australia)

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The Ford Works Team (Australia) was a former Australian motor racing team that was supported by the Ford Motor Company of Australia. The team was formed in 1962 and was wound up when Ford withdrew from motor racing at the end of 1973. Regular drivers for the works team included Allan Moffat, Fred Gibson, Harry Firth, Bob Jane, John French, Ian Geoghegan and his brother Leo.

The Firth Years[edit]

A "race replica" of the Ford Australia entered Ford XR Falcon GT driven to victory in the 1967 Gallaher 500 by Harry Firth and Fred Gibson

In 1962 the Firth Motors workshop at Queens Avenue, Auburn (Melbourne) became the base for the Ford works team with Harry Firth as team manager. At the 1962 Armstrong 500 at Philip Island Firth and Jane drove a Ford Falcon to victory and the following year won again this time in a Ford Cortina GT at the first Armstrong 500 run at Bathurst. In 1964 Bob Jane and George Reynolds were first across the line at Bathurst in a works Cortina GT and also that year Harry Firth took out the Ampol Trial.

1966 saw Firth and navigator Graham Hoinville take out the inaugural Southern Cross Rally in a Cortina. In 1967 Firth won another Bathurst 500 with co-driver Fred Gibson in a Ford Falcon GT with the Geoghegan brothers in second place. Then in 1968 Firth and Hoinville won the first Australian Rally Championship in a Cortina.

Allan Moffat and Al Turner[edit]

In 1969 Canadian-born Allan Moffat joined the Ford team and became the team's No.1 driver. With Harry Firth switching to the Holden Dealer Team, American Al Turner was signed up as the new team boss. The Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 1 with a 351 cubic inch V8 engine looked to be a big threat at the Bathurst 500 but Al Turner's tactic of flying in untested special tyres from the USA proved to be the undoing of the Ford challenge as Falcons kept pulling into the pits with shredded tyres.

The 1970 Bathurst race was a 1-2 victory for the Ford works team with Allan Moffat winning his first Bathurst 500 in a GTHO Phase 2 and team-mate Bruce McPhee holding back in the final laps following team orders.

Howard Marsden and more Moffat victories[edit]

Replica of the factory entered Ford XA Falcon GT Hardtop which won the 1973 Hardie-Ferodo 1000

By 1971 Howard Marsden was the new team manager at Ford. Moffat drove his Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III to an 'all the-way' win at the 1971 Hardie Ferodo 500 at Bathurst. 1972 saw the Supercar Controversy which killed off the Phase 4 Falcon project. Ford was forced to use the Phase 3 GTHO again for its Bathurst campaign and in a race that started on a wet track the light-footed Holden Torana GTR XU-1 won the day. But Ford did add a major trophy to their cabinet by winning the 1972 Australian Manufacturers' Championship.

In 1973 the Ford team contested the Australian Touring Car Championship with Allan Moffat winning from Holden rival Peter Brock. At Bathurst (now a 1,000 km race) Moffat and co-driver Ian Geoghegan won in a Falcon XA GT after early leader John Goss was involved in a collision and Doug Chivas famously ran out of petrol.

On 25 January 1974, the Ford Motor Company announced that they were pulling the plug on factory involvement in motor racing, with the effects of the 1973 Oil Crisis being cited as one of the reasons for the company's withdrawal. The Australian Ford works team was wound up, with Moffat driving as a privateer in 1974 with sponsorship from Brut 33.

Later Ford involvement in racing[edit]

Moffat Ford Dealers[edit]

In 1977 Ford supported a two-car team, the Moffat Ford Dealers Team, in the Australian Touring Car Championship and Bathurst 1000 with Allan Moffat and Colin Bond as drivers. Moffat and Bond (under Ford's Direct instructions in separate cars) finished 1-2 in both the Touring Car Championship and Bathurst 1000 in 1977 but when Moffat and Bond split at the end of 1978 Ford again withdrew factory support from Australian touring car racing.[1]

In rallying, in 1977 a very competitive Ford works rally team was formed with Colin Bond as team manager and driver and Greg Carr as the other team driver. Carr won the 1978 Australian Rally Championship for Ford in a Ford Escort BDA. The team was wound up at the end of the 1980 season.

1978-1999[edit]

After 1978, Ford withdrew all development and involvement in Australian motor racing. Various Racing drivers however stuck to ford products, and the XD and XE Falcon's saw success in the 1981, 1982 and 1984 as well as the 1981 James Hardie 1000 with Dick Johnson at the wheel.

In order for the Falcon to still be eligible for racing though, a limited number of XD Falcon's were produced by Phase Autos, with aerodynamic improvements by Ford Australia designer Wayne Draper. It wasn't until 1999 that Ford supported a proper factory outfit, purchasing Glen Seton's team renaming it Ford Tickford Racing

List of Championships and major races won[edit]

1962 Armstrong 500 at Philip Island (Firth, Jane)
1963 Armstrong 500 at Bathurst (Firth, Jane)
1964 Armstrong 500 at Bathurst (Jane, Reynolds)
1964 Ampol Trial (Firth, Hoinville)
1966 Southern Cross Rally (Firth, Hoinville)
1967 Gallaher 500 at Bathurst (Firth, Gibson)
1968 Australian Rally Championship (Firth, Hoinville)
1969 Australian Rally Championship (Kilfoyle, Rutherford)
1969 Datsun 3 Hour at Sandown (Moffat, French)
1970 South Pacific Touring Series (Moffat)
1970 Sandown 3 Hour (Moffat)
1970 Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst (Moffat)
1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst (Moffat)
1972 Australian Manufacturers' Championship
1973 Australian Touring Car Championship (Moffat)
1973 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst (Moffat, Ian Geoghegan)

References[edit]

  • The History of the Falcon GT (Stewart Wilson) © 1978
  • Australia's Greatest Motor Race 1960-1999 (Chevron) © 2000