Peter McLeod

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Peter McLeod
Nationality Australian
Born (1948-05-06) 6 May 1948 (age 68)
Newcastle, New South Wales
Australian Touring Car Championship
Years active 1980–88
Starts 25
Wins 0
Poles 0
Fastest laps 0
Best finish 3rd in 1984 Australian Touring Car Championship
Previous series
1980–86
1980–87
Australian Endurance Championship
AMSCAR Series
Championship titles
1983
1987
Australian Endurance Championship
Bathurst 1000

Peter Gerard McLeod (born 6 May 1948 in Newcastle, New South Wales[1]) is a retired Australian racing driver, best known as co-winner of the 1987 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst, and for driving the distinctive yellow and black Slick 50 Mazda RX-7 Group C touring car during the early to mid-1980s.

Group C Touring Cars[edit]

McLeod began his racing career in 1980 at the relatively old age of 32, progressing immediately into touring car racing where in just three seasons to become one of Australia's fastest privately entered touring car racers, and the fastest Mazda RX-7's behind Allan Moffat's factory supported team (though with reportedly more horsepower than Moffat's cars). By 1981 he had scored his first podium result with a third at the Oran Park 250 behind the Falcons of Dick Johnson and veteran Murray Carter.

His pace and consistency were rewarded when he won the 1983 Australian Endurance Championship, which didn't start well with 12th at both the Sydney rounds (Amaroo Park and Oran Park), followed by a DNF in the Castrol 400 at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne. It was his results in the final 3 rounds of the series which lifted him above the JPS Team BMW 635 CSi of Jim Richards. McLeod finished 7th in the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst co-driving with Graeme Bailey, 3rd at the Surfers Paradise 300, and finally 6th in the Humes Guardrail 300 at the Adelaide International Raceway (AIR) in November. Richards, who finished 5th and 15th at Amaroo and Oran Park and 2nd at Sandown, scored no points at Bathurst and only finished 7th at Surfers, needed to finish at least 2 points in front of McLeod to win the title at Adelaide, but could only manage 9th in his BMW, giving the Wollongong based McLeod his first and only touring car championship in just his 4th season of driving.

Still driving the Slick 50 Mazda, McLeod finished third in the 1984 Australian Touring Car Championship behind the Holden Dealer Team Commodore of Peter Brock, and series winner Dick Johnson in his Greens-Tuf Ford Falcon. McLeod went into the final round at Adelaide in 2nd position, 22 points in front of Brock, and needed to only finish 14th to claim 2nd regardless of where Brock finished. Unfortunately a clash with the BMW of Jim Richards on lap 4 at the end of AIR's 900 metre long front straight saw the Mazda with enough damage to have McLoeod limp back to the pits and retire, and with Brock finishing the race 2nd behind Allan Grice and gaining 23 points, he moved to 95 points, 1 point in front of McLeod. 1984 was actually the only full ATCC that McLeod ever contested. His best finishes in the series were back to back 2nd places in rounds 4 and 5 at Surfers Paradise behind Johnson and Oran Park behind the RX-7 of 1979 ATCC champion Bob Morris. These would also prove to be the highest placings McLeod achieved in 25 ATCC rounds competed in between 1981 and 1988.[2]

Following the ATCC McLeod was unable to repeat his 1983 Endurance Championship win and finished the 1984 Championship in 9th place. After finishing 3rd in the opening round, the Silastic 300 at Amaroo Park, behind the Nissan Bluebird Turbo of Garry Scott, he finished 7th in the Valvoline 250 at Oran Park, but it went downhill from there. McLeod and Graeme Bailey failed to finish at Sandown and Bathurst, while Mcleod didn't compete at the Surfers Paradise 300 bringing an end to the Group C era in Australia.

There were two more Group C races held before the end of 1994. One was the support race for the Australian Grand Prix at the Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne.[3] After qualifying 8th at Calder the RX-7 didn't get off the line and was a first lap DNF. McLeod didn't take the car to the final ever competitive Group C race at Baskerville Raceway in Tasmania.[4]

1985 Daytona 24 Hour[edit]

In 1985 he joined Allan Moffat, Kevin Bartlett and Gregg Hansford in Mazda Australia's attack on the 24 Hours of Daytona. Driving Moffat's Bathurst RX-7, but with a different rear wing and without the CAMS imposed 20 kg (44 lb) lead ballast, the car qualified in the 38th (11th in the GTO class) and ran strongly until mechanical failure near the end of the race. They were eventually classified 24th, 221 laps behind the winning Porsche 962 driven by A. J. Foyt, Bob Wollek, Al Unser and Thierry Boutsen. McLeod, Moffat and Hansford, all of whom had been regular drivers of the RX-7's in Australia, all expressed delight with how much quicker the car was without its added weight, stating that without that extra weight, the rotary powered cars would have proved more of a threat to the V8's at Bathurst.

1985 Australian GT Championship[edit]

McLeod continued to race his Mazda RX-7 in the 1985 Australian GT Championship. He placed fifth in the championship, his best finish being third at the Adelaide round. The 13B engined Mazda was still in the same CAMS production based Group C trim in which it finished 1984 and was outperformed by purpose-built GT cars such as Bryan Thompson's 4.2L Chevrolet powered, twin turbocharged Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC and his newly acquired 6.0L Chevrolet Monza (in which Allan Grice had easily won the 1984 Australian GT Championship), and Kevin Bartlett's ground effects De Tomaso Pantera. Thompson would win the title driving both the Mercedes-Benz and the Chevrolet.

Group A Touring Cars[edit]

The change to Group A Touring Car regulations for the 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship forced McLeod, and others such as Allan Moffat, to abandon the RX-7 as the cars would have to revert to running the standard 12A motor, would have no aerodynamic aids and would generally be uncompetitive. Like many privateers, McLeod opted to drive a Holden VK Commodore for the 1985 season, but like most Commodore teams, including the factory-backed Holden Dealer Team, the 1985 Group A Commodore wasn't as competitive as hoped. Compared to 1984, the cars had no aerodynamic aids, was some 120 kg heavier, and had lost approximately 110 bhp (82 kW; 112 PS) in 1985. McLeod's car, built from an ex road car, came into its own in the 1985 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst, and for much of the race McLeod and co-driver Bailey had the car running in the top 10, and indeed held 5th place for a time and was the second Commodore on the road behind Peter Brock's lead HDT car. Their good run came to an end when the gearbox broke on lap 126.

Like all Commodore runners, McLeod upgraded to the newly homologated Holden VK Commodore SS Group A for 1986. He competed in only two rounds of the 1986 ATCC at Sandown and Oran Park, and finished 19th in the championship. He did not have a good Endurance Championship. He failed to finish the Castrol 500 at Sandown and after qualifying 15th at Bathurst, McLeod crashed the Commodore heavily at the 160 km/h right hand McPhillamy Park on lap 48 of the race. McLeod later reported that the car blew its right front tyre and, unable to steer the car, he drove over the ripple strip on the outside of the track and flew clear over the sand trap and into the tyre wall, destroying the front right of the car in the process. The car's roll cars withstood the accident and Mcleod was able to walk away from the incident unhurt although he was a little shaken. Bathurst 1986 was where McLeod's friend Mike Burgmann lost his life in a 260 km/h crash at the base of the bridge near the end of the 1.9 km long Conrod straight. The consequence of Burgmann's crash saw the inclusion of Caltex Chase to the circuit in 1987 in a bid to slow the cars down. McLeod's former co-driver Graeme Bailey won the 1986 James Hardie with Allan Grice in a Holden Commodore.

McLeod continued to run his VK Commodore during 1987 including the Castrol 500 at Sandown co-driving with Peter Fitzgerald (DNF after only 17 laps with a failed clutch). Following the Sandown race, McLeod was drafted into the by then no longer factory-backed Holden Dealer Team, running under the name Brock HDT P/L after Brock's well publicised split with Holden earlier in the year, to drive the team's 2nd car at the 1987 James Hardie 1000 which had become a round of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship. McLeod joined formula 2 racer John Crooke in car #10 (Brock's 1986 car upgraded to VL Group A specs).[5] Despite setting the qualifying time for his usual #05 car, Brock also set the time for car #10. Despite it being against the rules for a driver to qualify two cars (i.e. Brock's time for car #10 should not have counted towards the cars grid position as he had also set fastest time in 05, his nominated #1 car), somehow Brock's time stood and was good enough to put the car in 20th place (McLeod's time was good enough for 27th on the grid). McLeod completed the first two stints of the race totaling 61 laps, lifting the car to 5th place. Team mates Peter Brock and David Parsons then took over the car after their 05 went out with engine failure on lap 34. Inspired driving by Brock and Parsons in a rain-plagued second half combined with good strategy and a lucky break with safety car procedures placed them into third position behind the two Eggenberger Motorsport Ford Sierra RS500s at the end of the race. The car was only thrown together with old parts lying around the HDT workshop and wasn't expected to last very long (something McLeod didn't know at the time) so for it finish third while the teams lead car expired early was a surprise to the team.

Before the race, a formal protest had been lodged against the Eggenberger Motorsport Sierras for illegal bodywork relating to the size of their front wheel arches. As no road-legal Sierra existed in Australia at the time, the protest was delayed by a few months and it wasn't until January 1988 that McLeod, Brock and Parsons were declared the winners of the 1987 James Hardie 1000.[6]

Like other privateer Commodore runners, McLeod saw little value in driving in the 1988 Australian Touring Car Championship against the improving Ford Sierras, though he did run in the first five rounds of the nine-race series. Following the ATCC, McLeod built a new 'Walkinshaw' spec VL Commodore Group A SV with the engine and suspension supplied by the Peter Brock organisation, who by that stage were running the BMW M3's. The car debuted at the Enzed 500 at Sandown complete with sponsorship from Yellow Pages, the car's yellow and black paint scheme looking very similar to the Slick 50 Mazda of McLeod's Group C days. Clutch failure ended Mcleod and co-driver Jim Keogh's race after just 21 laps at Sandown after qualifying 15th. The Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst wasn't much better for the team. The car had three separate crashes in practice and qualifying and then blew its engine in the morning warm-up. The crew had just under 90 minutes to replace the engine and get the car into pit lane to make the start. This they accomplished just as the field was coming around for the rolling start (used for the first and only time in the race's history) and after taking two laps to get the car started, it lasted only 7 laps before the replacement engine failed. Before the first engine failure, McLeod had reported that the car felt better in the morning warm up session, and had reportedly set a faster time than he had during qualifying.

Following the Tooheys 1000, Peter McLeod bowed out of touring car racing. Like many other privateers, he claimed it was too expensive to run a competitive Group A touring car.

Bathurst 12 Hour[edit]

With the advent of the 12 hour Production Car Race at Bathurst, McLeod took to the Mountain again in a Citroën BX 16V in 1991 finishing second in class B, returning the following year with a 3-car factory team to win the class, this time beating the Brock-prepared and driven Peugeot 405s. Further 12-hr attempts followed in the BX 16V's and later in a Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo with moderate success.

V8 Supercars[edit]

McLeod faded out of the scene over the next few racing seasons but returned to the sport in 1994 as McLeod's son Ryan started to make his way into V8 Supercar racing. McLeod co-drove with Ryan McLeod in endurance races from 1994-96 in the Family run ENZED sponsored Commodore before retiring completely. McLeod has stayed involved in the sport and recently has acted as driver of V8 Supercar's safety car.

Semi-Retirement[edit]

McLeod has since turned his attention to his passion for Citroëns, importing and fully restoring the rare and highly prized Maserati-engined Citroën SMs from the early 70s. His work is highly regarded on an international scale and the cars are in demand by classic car enthusiasts worldwide. Over 30 such examples have now been completed. A return to Bathurst as a competitor occurred for the 2009 WPS Bathurst 12 Hour driving a Holden Astra SRi Turbo, co-driving with his two sons, Ryan and Gerard. The family run car finished 21st in 2009 before returning in 2010 to win Class D and finish 10th outright. As of 2015 McLeod was competing in the Kerrick Sports Sedan Series in a turbocharged Mazda RX-7 Series 1 which made its debut in 2012.[7]

Career results[edit]

Season Series Position Car Team
1980 Australian Touring Car Championship 24th Mazda RX-7 McLeod Mazda
1981 Australian Touring Car Championship 17th Mazda RX-7 McLeod Mazda
1981 Better Brakes 3.5 Litre Series 9th Mazda RX-7 McLeod Mazda
1982 Australian Touring Car Championship 15th Mazda RX-7 Strongbow Cider
1982 Australian Endurance Championship 37th Mazda RX-7 Strongbow Cider
1983 Better Brakes AMSCAR Series 6th Mazda RX-7 Petrolon Slick 50 Racing
1983 Australian Endurance Championship 1st Mazda RX-7 Petrolon Slick 50
1984 Australian Touring Car Championship 3rd Mazda RX-7 Petrolon Slick 50
1984 Australian Endurance Championship 9th Mazda RX-7 Petrolon Slick 50
1985 Australian GT Championship 5th Mazda RX-7 Petrolon Slick 50
1986 Australian Touring Car Championship 19th Holden VK Commodore SS Group A Autopart Centre
1986 Australian Endurance Championship 56th Holden VK Commodore SS Group A Autopart Centre
1988 Australian Touring Car Championship 17th Holden VL Commodore SS Group A Peter McLeod
2015 Kerrick Sports Sedan Series 20th Mazda RX-7 Slick 50

Complete Australian 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 DC Points
1980 McLeod Mazda Mazda RX-7 SYM CAL LAK SAN WAN SUR
Ret
AIR
5
ORA
6
24th 3
1981 McLeod Mazda Mazda RX-7 SYM CAL ORA SAN WAN
4
AIR
6
LAK SUR 17th 5
1982 Strongbow Cider Mazda RX-7 SAN
12
CAL
Ret
SYM
7
ORA
Ret
LAK WAN
5
AIR
Ret
SUR 15th 12
1984 Petrolon Slick 50 Racing Mazda RX-7 SAN
Ret
SYM
4
WAN
4
SUR
2
ORA
2
LAK
5
AIR
Ret
3rd 95
1986 Autopart Centre Holden VK Commodore SS Group A AMA SYM SAN
5
AIR WAN SUR CAL LAK WIN ORA
9
19th 25
1988 Peter McLeod Holden VK Commodore SS Group A
Holden VL Commodore SS Group A
CAL
9
SYM
Ret
WIN
Ret
WAN
8
AIR
15
LAK SAN AMA ORA 17th 5

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 Australia HDT Racing P/L Holden VL Commodore SS Group A MNZ JAR DIJ NUR SPA
BNO SIL BAT
ovr:1
cls:1
CLD
ovr:11
cls:7
WEL
FJI NC 0

* Despite winning the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst, McLeod scored no World Championship points as he wasn't a registered WTCC competitor.

Complete Bathurst 1000 results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1980 Australia McLeod Mazda Australia Mal Brewster Mazda RX-7 2001-3000cc 65 DNF DNF
1981 Australia Peter McLeod Australia Peter Dane Mazda RX-7 6 Cylinder & Rotary 96 26th 7th
1982 Australia Strongbow Racing Team Australia Peter Dane Mazda RX-7 A 153 9th 8th
1983 Australia Petrolon Slick 50 Australia Graeme Bailey Mazda RX-7 A 157 5th 5th
1984 Australia Petrolon Slick 50 Australia Graeme Bailey Mazda RX-7 Group C 39 DNF DNF
1985 Australia I.M.B. Team Wollongong Australia Graeme Bailey Holden VK Commodore C 126 DNF DNF
1986 Australia Autopart Centre New Zealand Glenn Clark Holden VK Commodore SS Group A C 48 DNF DNF
1987 Australia HDT Racing P/L Australia Peter Brock
Australia David Parsons
Australia Jon Crooke
Holden VL Commodore SS Group A 1 158 1st 1st
1988 Australia Yellow Pages Australia Jim Keogh Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV A 7 DNF DNF
1994 Australia Peter McLeod Australia Ryan McLeod
Australia Kevin Burton
Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV A 83 DNF DNF
1995 Australia Enzed Racing Australia Ryan McLeod Holden VR Commodore 0 DNF DNF
1996 Australia Enzed Racing Australia Ryan McLeod Holden VR Commodore 85 DNF DNF

Complete Bathurst/Eastern Creek 12 Hour results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1991 New Zealand Glenn Clark
Australia Barry Jones
Citroën BX16 B NA NA 2nd
1992 Australia Peter McLeod Australia Peter Dane
New Zealand Peter Janson
Citroën BX16 B 238 8th 1st
1993 Australia Peter McLeod Australia Peter Dane
New Zealand Peter Janson
Citroën BX16 B 191 DNF DNF
1994 Australia Peter McLeod Australia Peter Dane
Australia Des Wall
Mazda RX-7 X 225 26th 5th
1995 Australia Peter McLeod Australia Ryan McLeod Mazda RX-7 X 137 DNF DNF
2009 Australia Racer Industries Australia Ryan McLeod
Australia Gerard McLeod
Holden Astra SRi F 216 21st 3rd
2010 Australia Racer Industries Australia Ryan McLeod
Australia Gerard McLeod
Holden Astra SRi Turbo D 192 11th 1st

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tuckey, Bill, ed. (1987–88). The Great Race. Hornsby: The Berghouse Floyd Tuckey Publishing Group. 7: 277. ISSN 1031-6124. 
  2. ^ Howard, Graham; Wilson, Stewart (1986). "1984: Goodbye big bangers". Australian Touring Car Championship: 25 fabulous years. Gordon: R&T Publishing. p. 272. ISBN 0-9590378-2-9. 
  3. ^ 1984 AGP Group C Support Race Pt1 on YouTube
  4. ^ Group C Touring Car Era Baskerville 1975-84
  5. ^ Tuckey, Bill, ed. (1987–88). The Great Race. Hornsby: The Berghouse Floyd Tuckey Publishing Group. 7: 84. ISSN 1031-6124. 
  6. ^ Tuckey, Bill, ed. (1987–88). The Great Race. Hornsby: The Berghouse Floyd Tuckey Publishing Group. 7: 263–265. ISSN 1031-6124. 
  7. ^ "WPS 12 Hour / Shannons National - Round 1 Mount Panorama WPS 12 Hour". National Software. 22 February 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Allan Grice
Graeme Bailey
Winner of the Bathurst 1000
1987
(with Peter Brock & David Parsons)
Succeeded by
Tony Longhurst
Tomas Mezera