The First "1000"
The 1973 Bathurst classic was run for the first time over a distance of 1000 kilometres (630 miles) rather than 500 miles, due to Australia's conversion to the metric
also the first to be run under the new production touring regulations, and there was some doubt as to how many cars would finish, because of the dual threat of more highly stressed components and the extra distance. For 1973, the classes were based entirely on engine capacity: - Class A, 0-1300cc; Class B, 1301-2000cc; Class C, 2001-3000cc; Class D, over 3000cc.
This put the XU-1 Torana’s and the Falcons in the same class, together with the four E49 Chargers
. In all, five Falcons and 17 Torana’s faced the starter. To turn back the clock a few years to 1969, co-drivers were required for all the cars because of the extra length of the race. Crewing the Falcons were Allan Moffat and fan Geoghegan in the number one works car, and Fred Gibson and Barry Seton together again in the number two car. In the privately entered Falcons, John Goss was with Kevin Bartlett, John French with Bob Skelton, and Murray Carter with Laurie Nelson.
For the Hoiden Dealer team, Peter Brock was sharing with Doug Chivas, and Colin Bond had Leo Geoghegan
as his co-driver. Other strong challengers were Bob Jane and John Harvey, plus Don Holland and Max Stewart, all in XU-1 Torana’s. Race day was warm and sunny, in direct contrast to 1972's pelting rain, and as the flag fell John Goss, who had won pole position, leapt to an immediate lead with Moffat, French and Carter filling the next three places.
Freddie Gibson's was the first Falcon to retire with a cooked engine after less than an hour of racing, his fifth "DNF" (Did Not Finish) in a row. Meanwhile, Goss had increased his lead to 10 seconds over Moffat, with French next, about to be overtaken by Peter Brock and his XU-1. A very rapid pace was being set by the leaders, and after only 90 minutes Goss, Moffat, Brock and Bond were the only drivers on the same lap. At this stage things were looking rosy for the Fords, especially since a number of Torana’s were having troubles with conrods letting to and valves
The problem was that most of the privately-entered Torana’s were using 3.08 to 1 final drives
, which meant they had to use a lot of revs to stay with the Dealer Team cars which were using a taller 2.78 to 1 final drive
. The Dealers Team Torana’s were pulling 6500 rpm on Conrod Straight for a top speed of 150 mph. To match this, the lower-geared Torana’s would need to have revved to around 7000, a speed of revolution at which point things start to break.
As the race progressed, the Goss/Bartlett car maintained its advantage, but two things happened which changed the face of the race: first, the Torana’s of Bob Jane and George
into contact, causing the Garth car to roll right into the path of John Goss. The resultant damage not only wrecked a tyre
but also damaged a radiator
hose. Goss pitted, changed the tyre
and went out again. Secondly, Doug Chivas, who had taken over from Peter Brock in the XU-1, ran out of petrol, and had to push the car unaided up to the pits.
The time lost possibly cost the Holden Dealer Team car the race. Soon afterwards, the Goss/Bartlett Falcon retired. The damaged radiator
hose caused severe overheating, ultimately resulting in a well-fried piston. Understandably, Goss was a little savage about the whole thing, especially when remembering that the offending GTR Torana should not have been on the track at all, as it had been towed to the pits earlier in the race and was therefore ineligible to restart.
All this drama put Allan Moffat into a comfortable lead, a lead which held to the finish, giving him his third Hardie-Ferodo victory and "Pete" Geoghegan his first. Toranas filled the following four positions, headed by Brock and Bond, with the Kaleda/Granger Charger sixth, and the only other Falcon to finish, the car of Carter and Nelson, in seventh spot. The Falcon of John French and Bob Skelton, which was well up with the leaders in the early stages, blew its motor to pieces in Pit Straight at about two-thirds distance. It was a very pleasing result for Ford, with the combination of Moffat, Geoghegan and Howard Marsden demonstrating a fine tactical plan and an equally fine execution of that plan.