John Goss (racing driver)

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John Goss
Nationality Australia Australian
Born (1943-05-02) 2 May 1943 (age 71)
Hobart, Tasmania
Retired 1995
Australian Touring Car Championship
Years active 1972–78
Teams McLeod Ford
John Goss Racing
Wins 0
Best champ.
finish
11th in 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship
Championship titles
1974
1976
1985
Bathurst 1000
Australian Grand Prix
Bathurst 1000

John Goss (born 2 May 1943, Hobart, Tasmania) is an Australian retired motor racing driver who was a star in his home country during the 1960s, 1970's and 1980's. He is the only driver to have won Australia's two most prestigious races, the Bathurst 1000 (1974 and 1985), and the Australian Grand Prix (1976).

During his career, John Goss gained a reputation for long acceptance speeches, with many joking that his victory speech on the Bathurst podium following his 1974 win took almost as long as the race itself (the race, the first to be run in wet conditions, lasted 7 hours, 51 minutes and 43 seconds, though in reality Goss' victory speech took significantly less time).

Early career[edit]

Born and raised in Hobart, Tasmania, Goss began racing in his home state in Holden FJs and Ford Customlines. He then built his own sports car, the Tornado Ford, which he took to the mainland with some success, scoring points in the Australian Sports Car Championship in both 1969 and 1970. He also raced Ford Falcon GTHOs in production car racing from 1969 and stayed loyal to Ford for much of his career.

McLeod Ford[edit]

Series Production[edit]

Goss debuted at the Bathurst 500 in 1969 driving a McLeod Ford (with its distinctive yellow/black chequer windscreen strip) sponsored Ford Falcon GTHO, but Goss's co-driver Dennis Cribbin crashed the Falcon at Forrest Elbow. In 1970 John Goss posted the fastest lap during the Bathurst 500 in his XW Falcon GTHO Phase II. The following year Goss won two rounds of the Toby Lee Series at Oran Park against such opposition as Colin Bond and Fred Gibson.

Goss won the 1972 South Pacific Touring Car Series and the 1972 Sandown 250 endurance race, both in Series Production Ford XY Falcon GTHO Phase III's. He also put his Falcon on the front row of the grid at the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500, qualifying second fastest behind the Works GTHO of expat-Canadian Allan Moffat. Engine failure after splashing around for 24 wet laps ended Goss' race.

Group C[edit]

With the Series Production class being replaced by the new Group C Touring Car class in 1973, Goss was the first driver to develop and race the new Ford Falcon XA GT Hardtop. Unlike Series Production, the new Group C rules allowed considerable modifications. Goss obtained sponsorship from Shell and continued his association with Max McLeod, a prominent Ford dealer (McLeod Ford) in Rockdale, New South Wales – known for his "Horn cars" – as well as obtaining factory assistance from Ford Australia, who provided Goss with purpose-built XA racing chassis. Goss was actually the first to race the XA Hardtop in the 1973 ATCC, even before the Works team who used a modified Phase III GTHO and didn't make the switch to the Hardtop until the Endurance races later in the year. Goss and Kevin Bartlett teamed up for the 1973 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst and qualified on pole position with a time of 2:33.4 (it was to be Goss' only pole at Bathurst) ahead of the GTR-XU1 Holden Torana of Peter Brock and Doug Chivas. Goss started and built up a good lead which was kept until he was involved in a crash at The Cutting which damaged his front end. The Falcon suffered radiator damage which later caused its retirement on lap 110 of the now 163 lap race (prior to 1973 race distance was 500 miles and ran only 130 laps.

The pair returned to Bathurst for the 1974 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 in the same car – repainted from yellow to blue after losing Shell as their major sponsor – and proved to have the reliability needed to last through a race marred by driving rain, finishing first. To celebrate the victory, Ford Australia released a limited edition XB Falcon Hardtop in 1975 called the John Goss Special. Actual production numbers of these cars were never released by Ford, but estimates range anywhere between 260 and 800 – they are now considered collectible.

John Goss's reproduction of the 1974 Bathurst winner
Ford XB Falcon GT Hardtop "John Goss Special"


Formula 5000[edit]

Goss won the Sandown Park round of the 1975 Tasman Series and the 1976 Australian Grand Prix at Sandown Park in Victoria, driving an Australian built Matich A53 Repco Holden in both events.[1] In doing so he became the only driver to ever win both the Bathurst 1000 and the Australian Grand Prix. During the mid-1970's Goss was concentrating his racing efforts more on the F5000 than his Croup C Falcons and ever loyal to Ford tried to run the A53 with a 5.0L Ford V8 but the concept had little success and replaced by the Repco Holden.

Jaguar[edit]

Group C[edit]

From 1977 to 1979, Goss registered three 'Did Not Finish' results at Bathurst driving Falcons with 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo as co-driver. In the 1977 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 he ran a second team car for Australia's three time Formula One World Champion Jack Brabham, and Jack's son Geoff.

Then in 1980, Goss began campaigning a V12 powered Jaguar XJS at Bathurst, at first with no luck. In the 1980 race he started what was basically a standard car from 58th on the grid, but lasted only 14 laps before retiring with gearbox failure. In 1981, he teamed with 1965 winner Barry Seton in the XJS, and after an improved qualifying effort (19th), they weren't classified as finishers of the crash shortened race having completed only 73 of the 120 laps and being caught up in the crash on the top of the mountain. Goss returned with a better prepared effort in 1982, sharing the driving with American IMSA Jaguar sports car race driver / team owner Bob Tullius, who also assisted with technical info for the car and engine. Goss qualified the car 14th with a time of 2:22.3 (almost 5 seconds slower than pole sitter Allan Grice in a V8 Holden Commodore, but some 5.7 seconds faster than he had achieved in 1981), but after a strong, consistent run, once again the big cat failed to finish following suspension failure on lap 119.

Goss missed the 1983 James Hardie 1000, but returned in 1984 for the last year of Australia's Group C racing sharing a drive with Tom Walkinshaw, team owner of the European Touring Car Championships Tom Walkinshaw Racing. Waklinshaw, who ran three factory backed Group A XJS' in the ETCC (and would go on to win that title in 1984), added a lot of technical assistance to the team with revised suspension and the use of one of TWR's own V12 engines. Despite trouble in qualifying with no suitable rear tyres arriving in time to use, the Scot qualified the car in 8th with a 2:16.09 lap (faster than Peter Brock's 1983 pole time), before falling to 10th in the Hardies Heroes top ten run-off with a 2:18.96, again due to unsuitable rear tyres. Walkinshaw also started the race never left the line. The Jags clutch had gone leaving Walkinshaw stranded with his arm out the window warning other drivers he was stationery. Before the race Walkinshaw had informed John Harvey, who was lined up behind him on that grid, that he wasn't confident of a quick start as the cars clutch was designed for the rolling starts used in the ETCC. Harvey took the precaution to line his HDT VK Commodore so that he could get around the slow starting Jag if needed, a tactic which allowed him to avoid the chaos that ensued. Unfortunately in the dust kicked up off the start, the Kevin Bartlett owned Chevrolet Camaro of John Tesoriero was coming through at speed and could not avoid the #12 Jag, hitting it in the rear. The Camaro was then hit by the fast starting Toyota Celica Supra of Peter Williamson causing a start line pile up. This caused the race to be stopped as the track was completely blocked by the three cars involved, with the back half of the field having to stop to avoid the incident. It would be the only time the race has ever been restarted in its history. While Goss later admitted that the team could have repaired the Jaguar and re-joined the race, the decision was made to withdraw the car as the repairs would have taken almost half the race.

Group A[edit]

Australian Touring Car racing changed to International Group A rules in 1985, and Goss scored his second and last ourtight Bathurst win that year with West German co-driver Armin Hahne in one of a three-car assault on the Great Race by Tom Walkinshaw's TWR team using the 1984 ETCC-winning V12 Jaguar XJS' (Walkinshaw had been stung by the bad showing in 1984 and was determined to bring his own team back to conquer the race). Goss, installed by Walkinshaw as lead driver of the team's third car (#10), actually qualified fastest going into Hardies Heroes, giving lie to those who believed he was past his best as a driver and that Walkinshaw had made an error by having him drive. He ended up 6th in the Top Ten run-off after mistakes on both laps (1985 was the last year that cars were given two laps in Hardies Heroes).

The cars were held on the grid for a long time before the green flag was shown. This caused several cars, including the Goss Jaguar, to start overheating. To avoid this Goss actually turned the car off and only restarted it when the 30 second sign was shown, though the car was still overheating. Goss made a good start and for the opening laps was in a dice for 2nd with Allan Grice (Commodore), Robbie Francevic (Volvo), Dick Johnson (Ford Mustang), Jim Richards (BMW 635 CSi) and Peter Brock (Commodore). First Francevic, then Goss, broke free of the dice. Once free of the dice, Goss would chase down and take second from the Volvo in less than 10 laps, giving Jaguar a 1-2 on the road for the first time since the early laps before the team's second car driven by Jeff Allam retired with engine failure. From then on, the Goss/Hahne Jaguar was in second place for most of the race behind the Walkinshaw/Win Percy car. Goss and Hahne's job was made all the more difficult by the driver's seat of their car having completely broken at the base of the back. The seat first cracked during Hahne's first driving stint and broke completely when Goss returned to the car, giving both drivers very little support despite efforts by the team to hold it in place with cable ties to the roll cage. The team could have replaced the seat but felt they would have lost at least a lap in doing so and decided to soldier on, a decision ultimately justified. The #10 car took the lead on about lap 120 following a split oil line on the Walkinshaw/Percy car. Goss, unable to drive the car hard through the corners due to the broken seat, had to use the superior power of the V12 on Mountain and Conrod straights to keep up lap times, with both Peter Brock and Roberto Ravaglia (BMW) closing the gap to within 30 seconds. The chase effectively ended with Brock's engine failure on lap 160 allowing Goss to back off over the last 3 laps. Team owner Walkinshaw, who qualified on pole following the Top Ten, finished third with Win Percy, the pair crossing the finish line together.

After Jaguar Rover Australia declined to help fund a return effort by TWR in 1986 Goss returned with his own privately entered XJ-S backed by Citibank Australia and co-driven by veteran Bob Muir. After numerous problems in qualifying the pair started 26th, slower than the only other XJS in the race, a private effort driven by Garry Willmington and Peter Janson. Electrical troubles in the race resulting in a flat battery saw them complete 140 laps and finish 24th outright. Goss was involved in an incident on lap 2 of the race that took out the Roberto Ravaglia/Dieter Quester BMW 635 CSi which resulted in Ravaglia physically attacking Goss from behind following the Jag's first pit stop. Despite being offered by the race stewards the chance to lay charges against Ravaglia for the incident Goss refused to take the case any further believing it was just one of those things and that the Italian was just caught up in the emotion of the moment.

1987-1990[edit]

Goss missed the 1987 World Touring Car Championship round as well as the 1988 race but returned to drive for Glenn Seton Racing at the 1989 Tooheys 1000 in a Ford Sierra RS500. Originally teamed with Tony Noske in the team's second car, they were joined during the race by team leader Glenn Seton after the bosses own car had failed. After a troubled run the trio went on to finish 20th outright after the car started 17th.

Goss' final Bathurst 1000 came in 1990 when he paired with fellow Sydney based veteran Phil Ward in a Mercedes-Benz 190E to finish 12th outright and a Division 2 class win after starting 38th. In contrast to his outright wins at Bathurst in 1974 and 1985, Goss' Div2 win with Ward was relatively straight forward as the Mercedes-Benz ran the race with no problems.

Career results[edit]

Season Series Position Car Team
1969 Australian Sports Car Championship 9th Tornado Ford John Goss Racing
1970 Australian Sports Car Championship 10th Tornado Ford McLeod Ford
1972 South Pacific Touring Series 1st Ford XY Falcon GTHO Phase III McLeod Ford
1972 Australian Touring Car Championship 11th Ford XY Falcon GTHO Phase III McLeod Ford
1973 Australian Touring Car Championship 14th Ford XA Falcon GT Hardtop McLeod Ford
1974 South Pacific Touring Series 2nd Ford XA Falcon GT Hardtop McLeod Ford
1974 Toby Lee Sports Sedan Series 7th Ford XA Falcon GT Hardtop McLeod Ford
1974 Australian Drivers' Championship 9th Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1975 Tasman Series 6th Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1975 Toby Lee Formula 5000 Series 2nd Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1975 Australian Drivers' Championship 13th Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1976 Australian Drivers' Championship 5th Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1976 Rothmans International Series 5th Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1977 Rothmans International Series 4th Matich A53 Repco Holden John Goss Racing
1977 Australian Touring Car Championship 28th Ford XB Falcon GT Hardtop
Ford XC Falcon Hardtop
John Goss Racing
1978 Australian Touring Car Championship 30th Ford XC Falcon Hardtop John Goss Racing
1985 Australian Endurance Championship 10th Jaguar XJS JRA Ltd

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans Results[edit]

Year Pos Class No Team Co-Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1976 27 GT 70 Belgium "Beurlys" Belgium John Blaton
United Kingdom Nick Faure
Porsche 934 Porsche 3.0L Turbo Flat-6 168
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Allan Moffat
Ian Geoghegan
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
1974
(with Kevin Bartlett)
Succeeded by
Peter Brock
Brian Sampson
Preceded by
Max Stewart
Winner of the Australian Grand Prix
1976
Succeeded by
Warwick Brown
Preceded by
Peter Brock
Larry Perkins
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
1985
(with Armin Hahne)
Succeeded by
Allan Grice
Graeme Bailey

References[edit]

  • A History of Australian Motor Sport, © 1980
  • Australian Competition Yearbook, 1974
  • Australian Competition Yearbook, 1975
  • Australian Competition Yearbook, 1976
  • Australian Competition Yearbook, 1977
  • Australian Competition Yearbook, 1978
  • Racing Car News Champions, 1972
  • The History of the Falcon GT – Stewart Wilson (1978) – pg 44
  • Team Dan
  • Cams Manual