Ford began the power struggle for the Bathurst crown with the Cortina GT and GT-500
models, and then introduced the Falcon GTs
. General Motors
joined the challenge with the V8 Monaro
two years in a row and for 1970 Chrysler hurriedly prepared the four barrel Pacers. The cars were far quicker than before, but then so to was the mechanical failure rate higher. Only four GTHO's finished out of 16 starters and two of the works Torana’s
along with two Pacers
retired for the day.
Overall the race was not so much a thrilling spectacle, rather a procession of cars running to a plan. Class and outright placings had already been very accurately predicted, which took a lot of the excitement out of the final result. Most interesting were the first and last half hours of the race, where all the works team drivers were following team managers' orders closely. By 1970
was unlike a normal circuit event, and required a careful pre-planned strategy.
Race day saw Allan Moffat
and Bruce McPhee on the front row of the grid, Moffatt having recorded a record time of 2 minutes 49.3 seconds, some three seconds under 1969s race record time, and this was only after a short practice. The HO's engine sheared the distributor drive shaft, damaging the internals and necessitating a rebuild overnight. The new two - two grid line up, which stretched competing cars round Shell corner and up Conrod straight worked well and there were no incidents at all on the first lap.
As the thundering mass of machinery headed down Conrod, Moffatt lead the pack with Colin Bond's Torana XU-1
close behind. Moffatt began braking some 300 yards before Shell corner but Bond held out until the 200 yard mark and managed to pass Moffatt. As the bright yellow Torana headed up pit straight a wave of cheers followed, with Moffat some 100 yards behind. Obviously Harry Firth had instructed Colin Bond to push the GTHO's in the opening stages, hoping they would overcook something. However Moffat had his instructions too and it wasn't until the sixth lap, that he overtook Bond on the uphill straight. From here on the race settled down, with Bond and Peter Brock's
works Torana XU-1s
keeping the pressure on Moffat.
After an hour, an alarming number (for Ford, that is) of Falcon GTHO's began 'pitting' permanently. Head gaskets seemed to be one of the problems while number three works driver Bo Seaton was out with a broken differential. The heroes on the day were the Valiant Pacers, which surprised many in the way they made up ground on the bigger V8s. Des West in the works four barrel worked hard to reach second place after 50 laps and he even took over the lead briefly from Moffat when the Falcon went in for fuel and tyres
. However it was not for long, because West had to refuel a few laps later. The four barrels actually used more petrol than the Falcons, 70 gallons in fact. Beechey's four barrel went out with a broken timing sprocket.
The Holden dealer team's chance of a win ended when Bond and Brock both pulled into the pits with broken exhaust valves
. They were back on the track after half an hour. A protest early in the race by Harry Firth
over the use of power jacks by Ford was later withdrawn. The Toranas were a lot quicker around the mountain but they could not make any impression on the GTHOs down Conrod straight, topping 130 mph, which worked out at 6400 rpm for the Holden six engine. Pit work was well organised by all the works teams. Tyre
changes were carried out on ever, stop the works Falcons made while the Toranas were also going through the rubber. Bob Watson in the Booran Motors Torana blew a front tyre
up on the mount and had to struggle back to the pits while John Keran was not so fortunate when his Torana XU-1
blew a front tyre
. He crashed into the Armco fencing at over 80 mph bending the car in two and suffering a broken leg himself.
Battle of the Classes
In the class battles, A was the closest fought between the Mazda 1300s and the Datsun 1200s. A.M.I.'s Corollas were not quick enough to keep up and they were also suffering brake problems. Roxburgh and Tapsall both in Datsun 1200's were on the same lap as Bernie Haehnle's Mazda 1300 with only seconds between them. The Mazda 1300 was quicker but did not have the handling. It was only quick pit work by the Datsun team which kept them in front to the finish. John Roxburgh however rolled his Datsun 1200 in a big way on the 100th lap luckily escaping serious injury. In class B the Datsun 1600 had everything sewn up from start to finish. WH Motors from Sydney were campaigning two cars, both dicing with each other at a frantic pace but one retired with panel damage on the 32nd lap. Doug Whiteford in the works entered 1600 blew a tyre
but was back in the race after a short stop and finished second in this class.
Class C was the toughest to pick as the two barrel Pacers were a real threat to the Torana XU-1's. Doug Chrvas, Two Barrel and Don Holland, in a privately entered Torana kept up an hour long duel with the Pacer eventually taking the lead. Behind Holland was Leo Geoghegan
(Valiant Pacer) who was driving a consistent and steady race. With three quarters of the race gone, class E was a Ford benefit, with a lone BMW 2800 running a steady last. Stilwells GTHO had hit the bank at Forest early in the race when Richard Knight was driving and David McKay's was also out early with engine problems. Around Australia mariner Hans Tholstrup was driving well in fifth position behind Roberts and John Goss.
With over 100 laps of the race run it looked obvious that Moffat was going to win, a mechanical fault could stop him and – but was unlikely at this stage as his GTHO was running like clockwork. At no stage was Moffatt pushed and he lapped at a consistent two minutes 57, averaging 80 mph per lap. The pit area was quiet and there was an air of expectation that hung over the Ford camp. Moffat had eased up considerably while McPhee was only nine seconds behind in second place, which made Ford's position very secure. Team boss Al Turner then held out a sign to McPhee saying 'HOLD". In the press the following day it was quoted that MPhee was told not to win and a radio interview stated that he could have won. We doubt this very much at that late stage in the race, McPhee's car was way off tune while Moffat was not pushing his at all. Had McPhee tried to catch Moffat he may have blown his own engine while Moffat still had a lot of steam in reserve. The idea of team cars is to work together and this was how the race was won.
The last three laps were packed with excitement as Tony Roberts, who had worked his way up to third place making it a 1, 2, 3 for Ford, left the track high up on the mountain, hurtling over the Armco fencing and rolling eight times. This left the two barrel Pacer of Doug Chivas in a comfortable third slot with Don Holland in fourth. But again fate was unkind as, on the very last lap with the checkered flag held out for Moffat, Doug Chivas blew a rear tyre
out of Shell corner, only 100 yards from the finish. He saved himself from what could have been a nasty accident and pressed on to the pits for a tyre
change. Had he known the lap positions he could have propped until Moffat had passed, taking out third outright but instead he was forced to complete the lap allowing Don Holland to take his line honours. Moffat finished the 130 laps 39 seconds ahead of Bruce McPhee in second place and they were the only cars to complete the required distance.