George Fury

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George Fury
Nationality Australia
Born (1945-01-31) 31 January 1945 (age 70)
Hungary
Australian Touring Car Championship
Years active 1982-90
Teams Nissan Motorsport Australia
Glenn Seton Racing
Starts 46
Wins 8
Best finish 2nd in 1983 & 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship
Previous series
1975-80,90 Australian Rally Championship
Championship titles
1977
1980
1986
1987
1990
Australian Rally Championship
Australian Rally Championship
Sandown 500
Sandown 500
Sandown 500

George Fury (born 31 January 1945 in Hungary) is a retired Australian rally and racing car driver. For the majority of his career Fury was associated with Nissan, twice winning the Australian Rally Championship, and twice runner up in the Australian Touring Car Championship. Fury, a farmer living and working in the New South Wales country town of Talmalmo, was nicknamed "Farmer George" or "The Talmalmo Farmer".

Rallying[edit]

Fury rose to prominence during the 1970s as part of the Howard Marsden run Datsun Rally Team, racing Datsun Violet 710 SSS and Datsun 1600s, winning the 1977 Australian Rally Champion (tied on points with Ross Dunkerton), then later driving a Datsun Stanza, he won the Australian Championship in 1980. Fury also twice won the Southern Cross Rally in 1978 and 1979.[1]

Touring cars[edit]

Group C[edit]

A shift in emphasis in 1981 saw the Datsun Rally Team abandoned in favour of a circuit racing program for a turbo charged Nissan Bluebird. Fury joined Fred Gibson as drivers and proved instantly competitive, though he was still seen more as a rally driver and less as a circuit racer. By 1983 the Bluebird competitive with the outright Holden Commodore's, Ford Falcon's and Mazda RX-7's, and with the benefit of running in the "Up to and including 3000cc" class which gave bonus points for outright placings, Fury narrowly lost the 1983 Australian Touring Car Championship by six points to Allan Moffat after the Nissan team decided not to attend the final round of the series. Helped by the controversial point scoring system (Fury had scored more points for finishing second in the opening round at Calder than Moffat had for winning), Fury led the entire championship despite not winning a race until the Nissan team boycotted the final round at Lakeside in Brisbane.

Fury scored his first two race wins with the opening two rounds of the 1983 Australian Endurance Championship at Amaroo Park (Silastic 300) and 2 weeks later at the Oran Park 250, before going on to qualify 2nd for the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst. Fury would give the Bluebird program its finest moment at the 1984 James Hardie 1000, qualifying on pole position for the final Group C Bathurst 1000 with a time of 2:13.85 in Hardies Heroes. The Bluebird was the only Group C car to ever lap the old 6.172 km (3.835 mi) Mount Panorama Circuit under 2:14.00 (Peter Brock got closest with a 2:14.03 in his V8 Holden Commodore in the same Hardies Heroes). As a mark of its continued development and competitiveness, the turbocharged Bluebird had qualified 3rd at Bathurst in 1982 (Masahiro Hasemi), 2nd in 1983 (Fury) and 1st in 1984 (Fury).

Fury's lap time at Bathurst was not bettered by a touring car until qualifying for the 1990 Tooheys 1000 by Tony Longhurst in a Group A Ford Sierra RS500. Longhurst's time of 2:13.84 was set after the circuit was extended to 6.213 km in 1987. Fury's time was not bettered in the Top 10 runoff until 1991 when Mark Skaife recorded a 2:12.63 in a Nissan GT-R.

George Fury gave both Nissan and turbo charging its first win in the ATCC in 1984 when he won Round 7 of the championship at Lakeside in Brisbane. With the Nissan team missing several rounds of the championship to concentrate on engine development of the 1.8 litre Straight-4 turbo engine to improve both power and reliability, Fury could only finish 11th in the championship. Fury later claimed pole for the 1984 Castrol 500 at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne before going on to claim pole at Bathurst. Fury's pole time of 1:46.2 would remain the fastest ever touring car lap of the new 3.9 km International Circuit at Sandown.

Driving his Bluebird turbo, George Fury won the last ever competitive Group C Touring Car race on the Australian mainland when he won the Group C support race at the 1984 Australian Grand Prix at Calder Park in Melbourne on 18 November. Fury won the 25 lap race from the previously unbeaten HDT VK Commodore of Peter Brock with the VK Commodore of Warren Cullen finishing third.

Group A[edit]

In 1985 the adoption of International Group A put Fury on the sidelines for a year while the Nissan team developed the Nissan Skyline RS DR30 into competitive touring car. Fury did perform some guest drives for the Frank Gardner run JPS Team BMW, finishing 2nd with Neville Crichton at Sandown, but scoring a DNF at Bathurst.[2] Fury's drive at Bathurst in the BMW 635 CSi will forever be remembered as he followed team mate and 1985 Australian Touring Car Champion Jim Richards into the sand trap on the outside of Hell Corner. Richards had just lapped Fury, but the pair were caught out as only moments before a Holden Commodore had blown its engine leaving oil on the road. The trip in the sand was to end Fury's race as sand got into the BMW's engine and caused engine failure just over 35 laps later. For Richards, who was leading at the time and spent 3 laps with George digging the cars out of the sand, it ultimately cost him and co-driver Tony Longhurst a chance of victory and what would have been a perfect score in the 1985 Australian Endurance Championship.

Returning to racing with the Fred Gibson run Peter Jackson Nissan team in 1986 where in its first year of competition Fury, driving the new Skyline, lost the 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship by just five points to Robbie Francevic despite winning 5 races of the 10 round championship to Francevic's 3. Retirements at Round 1 at Amaroo Park and again in Round 4 at Adelaide hurt his chances as Francevic only failed to finish at Calder Park for Round 7. Fury served notice on how competitive the turbo Skyline was to be when he put the car on the front row for its debut race at Amaroo Park.

Fury won four of the six rounds of the 1986 Australian Endurance Championship, including winning the Castrol 500 at Sandown, but could only finish second behind Jim Richards after not starting the opening race at Amaroo Park and failing to finish at Bathurst where he had qualified third on the grid.

The emergence of Glenn Seton as a touring car driver, and two retirements in rounds three and four of the 1987 ATCC (despite finishing 3rd in the opening round at Calder behind winner Seton, and winning Round 2 a week later at Symmons Plains), saw pushed Fury into a supporting role for Seton for the remainder of the championship,[3] but Fury still finished third in the championship behind Seton and Jim Richards who won his second ATCC driving a BMW M3.

George then teamed with Sydney driver Terry Shiel to win his second consecutive Sandown 500, before the pair went on to finish third at Bathurst which in 1987 was a round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship.

1988 was a frustrating year for Nissan with an abbreviated program forced by development of the new HR31 GTS-R model Skyline into a competitive car. Jim Richards joined Nissan in 1989 replacing Seton who had departed to start his own team, but with the emergence of another young driver in Mark Skaife, Gibson saw a diminished role for Fury and released him at the end of the year. George Fury's final win ATCC win came in Round 7 of the 1989 ATCC when he scored a surprise win in wet conditions at the tight Winton Motor Raceway in country Victoria. With just 4 laps remaining, Fury pressured race leader Peter Brock into a rare spin to take the lead, but had to survive an almost disastrous last lap when he almost spun the Skyline in turn 2 which brought Brock's Ford Sierra RS500 back within striking distance. He then narrowly avoided the spinning Sierra of former Nissan team mate John Bowe in the esses to post the first non-Ford win in the ATCC since 1987.

Without a regular touring car drive in 1990, Fury returned to rallying, dominating the early rounds of the 1990 Australian Rally Championship until a lack of funding ended his run. He then joined former Nissan team mate Seton for the 1990 Australian Endurance Championship, where Fury and Seton won the 1990 Sandown 500 in a Ford Sierra. It would prove be George Fury's last touring car race win.

In 1991 Fury qualified third for the 1991 James Hardie 12 Hour at Bathurst in a Mitsubishi Galant VR4. During the race the car encountered a problem with its engine computer when it didn't recognise the use of unleaded fuel. To repair the problem the battery had to be disconnected to erase its memory. Driving with Rod Jones and Brisbane touring car privateer Alf Grant, Fury finished the first Bathurst 12 Hour in 9th place.[4]

Retirement[edit]

George Fury retired from motor racing at the end of 1991 and tended to stay away from the sport, preferring to live his life on his farm and driving the school bus in Talmalmo. However, in mid-2014 at the request of his former Nissan team mate and later team boss Fred Gibson, George was re-united with his Bathurst pole winning Bluebird turbo at the Winton raceway for a few laps of the circuit. It was the first time Fury had driven the car since the 1984 James Hardie 1000.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Fury's 1984 pole position at Bathurst, he drove the pole winning Bluebird again at Bathurst for some demonstration laps before the 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. The #36 Nissan Motorsport Altima L33 to be driven in the race by Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore wore a similar paint scheme as the #15 Bluebird driven by Fury 30 years earlier as a tribute to Nissan's first ever pole position on The Mountain. This continues the growing trend in recent years of V8 Supercar's sporting retro paint schemes at Bathurst to honour the anniversary of past significant moments (such as success or a noteworthy event) by manufacturers or individual teams on The Mountain.

Career results[edit]

Season Series Position Car Team
1977 Australian Rally Championship 1st Datsun 1600
1980 Australian Rally Championship 1st Datsun Stanza Datsun Rally Team
1982 Australian Touring Car Championship 12th Nissan Bluebird turbo Nissan Motorsport Australia
1983 Australian Touring Car Championship 2nd Nissan Bluebird turbo Nissan Motorsport Australia
1983 Australian Endurance Championship 3rd Nissan Bluebird turbo Nissan Motorsport Australia
1984 Australian Touring Car Championship 11th Nissan Bluebird turbo Nissan Motorsport Australia
1985 Australian Endurance Championship 12th BMW 635 CSi JPS Team BMW
1986 Australian Touring Car Championship 2nd Nissan Skyline DR30 Peter Jackson Nissan Racing
1986 Australian Endurance Championship 2nd Nissan Skyline DR30 Peter Jackson Nissan Racing
1986 South Pacific Touring Car Championship 1st Nissan Skyline DR30 Peter Jackson Nissan Racing
1987 Australian Touring Car Championship 3rd Nissan Skyline DR30 Peter Jackson Nissan Racing
1988 Australian Touring Car Championship 13th Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R Peter Jackson Nissan Racing
1989 Australian Touring Car Championship 6th Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R Nissan Motorsport Australia
1990 Australian Touring Car Championship 13th Ford Sierra RS500 Peter Jackson Racing
1990 Australian Endurance Championship 11th Ford Sierra RS500 Peter Jackson Racing

References[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ross Dunkerton
Australian Rally Champion
shared with Ross Dunkerton

1977
Succeeded by
Greg Carr
Preceded by
Ross Dunkerton
Australian Rally Champion
1980
Succeeded by
Geoff Portman