John Harvey (racing driver)

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John Harvey
Nationality  Australia
Born (1938-02-21) 21 February 1938 (age 76)
Sydney, New South Wales
Retired 1988
Australian Touring Car Championship
Years active 1965-86
Teams Holden Dealer Team
Wins 2
Best finish 3rd in 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship
Previous series
1965-70
1966
1966-72
1969-72
Australian Drivers' Champ.
Australian 1½ Litre Champ.
Tasman Series
Australian Sports Car Champ.
Championship titles
1966
1971
1972
1983
Australian 1½ Litre Champ.
Australian Sports Car Champ.
Australian Sports Car Champ.
Bathurst 1000

John Francis Harvey (born February 1938 in Sydney, New South Wales) is a retired Australian racing driver. He was a top Speedcar driver for many years in the 1950s and 1960s, winning many championship races including the NSW Championship for three successive years and the Victorian Championship twice.

Despite being regarded as one of the best Speedcar drivers in Australia, Harvey switched from speedway to road racing in 1964 following the deaths of a few friends in Speedcar racing, as well as a contentious 6 month suspension received from the Sydney based National Speedcar Club officials after he was alleged to spin fellow driver Al Staples in a scratch race at the Sydney Showground Speedway.

Harvey drove cars such as the Austin Cooper S and Brabham BT14 Ford 1.5 litre. Harvey won the 1966 Australian 1½ Litre Championship in the Brabham and in the same year finished runner up in the Australian Drivers' Championship for 2.5 litre Australian National Formula cars in the same car, competing against much more powerful machinery. He began an involvement with Bob Jane’s racing team in 1967 and moved to Melbourne. Harvey won the 1971 and 1972 Australian Sports Car Championships driving the McLaren M6B Repco-Holden V8 for Bob Jane. He drove Jane's Repco V8 powered Holden Torana in Sports Sedan racing in the early 1970s, winning both the Toby Lee Series at Oran Park and the Marlboro Series at Calder Park Raceway in 1973.

Reproduction of the 1976 Bathurst Bond/Harvey Torana

In 1976 John Harvey won the first round of the Australian Touring Car Championship in a one-off drive in a B&D Autos-sponsored Torana L34 at Symmons Plains. Later in the year Harvey was signed up to co-drive with Colin Bond in the Holden Dealer Team Torana L34 which finished a close second in the Bathurst 1000.

The race winning #7 Holden was accidentally credited with an extra lap, putting it ahead of the #1 Holden. The error was picked up after the race and the relevant race official offered the Holden Dealer Team, the official factory team, the right to appeal. However, the #7 car was entered by Ron Hodgson Motors, one of Holden's biggest dealerships. The Holden hierarchy decided it would be good 'politic' to let Bob Morris and British sportscar racer John Fitzpatrick keep the win. Holden apologised to John Harvey for this at a testimonial dinner in 2002.

With Bond leaving the Holden team at the end of 1976, Harvey then became the lead driver for the 1977 season.

In 1978 Peter Brock re-joined the Holden Dealer Team and became No.1 driver with Harvey driving the No.2 car. This established the pattern for almost a decade. The Harvey car effectively becoming Brock’s backup, notably winning the 1978 Rothmans 500 event at Oran Park teamed with Charlie O'Brien. 1980 Peter Brock took over the Holden Dealer Team, deciding John Harvey would not contest the ATCC races and contest only the endurance races at the end of the year. This arrangement continued until the advent of Group A in Australia in 1985, though Harvey did run in rounds of the 1984 ATCC, driving Brock's #05 when Brock and Perkins were attempting to win Le Mans. Harvey would then run selected rounds in the 1985 ATCC, as well as rounds of the 1986 ATCC.

John Harvey's biggest win came with the HDT at the 1983 James Hardie 1000. Originally to be partnered with Brock's brother Phil, Harvey qualified his #25 Holden VH Commodore (the car in which Brock and Perkins had won the 1982 race) in 5th place (Brock claimed pole in #05). After just eight laps, Brock's car blew its engine, seemingly putting him and Perkins out of the race. However, due to the pair being cross-entered in #25, Brock and Perkins then took over from Harvey for the rest of the race (leaving Phil Brock without a drive). The race win was controversial at the time as many felt Brock and Perkins should not have been allowed to move into the HDT's second car after theirs retired. Under race rules at the time however, cross-entering was allowed and had actually been used in previous 1000's, though this was the first time drivers had moved from one car to another and had gone on to win the race.

Harvey would go on to finish second at Bathurst the following year in the last race for the Group C touring cars in what was a 1-2 form finish for the Dealer Team with Brock/Perkins bringing in their VK Commodore home first in front of Harvey's co-driver, 25 year old Tasmanian David Parsons. Harvey would finish second again two years later for the HDT. Driving a VK Commodore SS Group A, he teamed with HDT driver/engineer Neal Lowe to finish second behind the Commodore of Allan Grice and Graeme Bailey.

Harvey split with Brock by 1987, being unhappy with Brock’s flirtation with ‘New Age’ ideas like his ‘Energy Polariser’. Harvey told his side of the story of the split in Bill Tuckey’s 1987 book The Rise and Fall of Peter Brock.

In March 1987 Harvey teamed up with Allan Moffat to drive their VL Commodore SS Group A to victory in the first round of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship at the famous Monza circuit in Italy. After finishing seventh, the pair were promoted as the first six BMW M3s were disqualified from the race. Spa Francorchamps 24H August 1987, Class win and 4th outright behind the works BMW Team.

After Moffat abandoned the Commodore in favor of the Andy Rouse Ford Sierra RS500, Harvey missed the 1987 James Hardie 1000 which was a round of the WTCC. The race was also the 9th and last Bathurst 1000 win for his long time team mate Peter Brock. Harvey's last Bathurst 1000 was in 1988. There he teamed with Kevin Bartlett in a VL Commodore SS Group A SV to finish in 14th after qualifying 22nd. Harvey almost didn't get to drive in the 1988 race. At the time he was working for the Tom Walkinshaw owned Holden Special Vehicles, and Walkinshaw had a rule that no employee barring himself or those specifically employed as a driver or part of a race team could go motor racing as a driver. Walkinshaw finally relented and let Harvey race at Bathurst, originally offering him the lead driver role in the HSV teams 3rd car, something which Harvey turned down stating that "I had been the number two behind Brock for eight years and I wasn't about to become the number three".

In February 1988, Harvey drove the new VL Commodore SS Group A SV which was the pace car driver for the first ever NASCAR race held outside of North America, the Goodyear NASCAR 500 held at the then new, A$54 million Calder Park Thunderdome in Melbourne.

Following the 1988 Tooheys 1000, John Harvey retired from competitive motor sport to concentrate on his work with Holden and HSV.

Career results[edit]

Season Series Position Car Team
1965 Australian Drivers' Championship 10th Brabham BT14 Ford RC Phillips Sports Cars
1965 Australian Touring Car Championship 7th Austin Cooper S
1966 Australian Drivers' Championship 2nd Brabham BT14 Ford RC Phillips Sports Cars
1966 Australian 1½ Litre Championship 1st Brabham BT14 Ford RC Phillips Sports Cars
1966 Australian Touring Car Championship 4th Morris Cooper S
1967 Tasman Series 10th Brabham BT14 Ford
1967 Australian Drivers' Championship 4th Brabham BT14 Ford
Brabham BT11 Climax
1969 Australian Drivers' Championship 4th Brabham BT23E Repco
1970 Tasman Series 12th Brabham BT23E Repco
1970 Australian Drivers' Championship 3rd Brabham BT23E Repco
1971 Australian Sports Car Championship 1st McLaren M6B Repco
1972 Australian Sports Car Championship 1st McLaren M6B Repco Bob Jane Racing
1972 Australian Touring Car Championship 9th Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350 Bob Jane Racing
1973 Toby Lee Series 1st Holden LJ Torana-Repco Bob Jane Racing
1976 Australian Touring Car Championship 11th Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34 B&D Autos
Holden Dealer Team
1977 Australian Touring Car Championship 6th Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34
Holden LX Torana SS A9X
Holden Dealer Team
1978 Australian Touring Car Championship 8th Holden LX Torana SS A9X Holden Dealer Team
1979 Australian Touring Car Championship 3rd Holden LX Torana SS A9X Holden Dealer Team
1984 Australian Touring Car Championship 33rd Holden VH Commodore Holden Dealer Team
1985 Australian Touring Car Championship 19th Holden VK Commodore Holden Dealer Team
1986 Australian Touring Car Championship 11th Holden VK Commodore SS Group A Holden Dealer Team

Complete World Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 DC Points
1987 Allan Moffat Racing Holden VL Commodore SS Group A MNZ
1
JAR
Ret
DIJ
Ret
NUR SPA
4
BNO SIL BAT
CLD
WEL
FJI NC 0

† Not registered for series & points

References[edit]

  • Australia's Greatest Motor Race 1960-1999 (Chevron) © 2000
  • Australian Competition Yearbook 1974
  • Ten Top Drivers (Forsyth Publications) 1979
  • The Rise and Fall of Peter Brock (Bill Tuckey) 1987
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Peter Brock
Larry Perkins
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
1983
(with Peter Brock and Larry Perkins)
Succeeded by
Peter Brock
Larry Perkins