For more than a decade, Allan Moffat was Ford’s racing hero, but all that changed in the early 1980s. Having been abandoned by Ford, he abandoned them, handing the Blue Oval mantel to Dick Johnson. Worse than that, he sided with Japanese carmaker Mazda to race an RX7.
Now, Australian Muscle Car magazine gives readers the most requested story of the last few years: an examination of Moffat’s RX7 era.
Moffat and controversy were always familiar bedfellows. But the Mazda RX7 ramped it up to another level, confirming Moffat as Australia’s ultimate motor racing anti-hero in the early 1980s. Not since his meteoric arrival with the Trans-Am Mustang in 1969 had the expatriate Canadian worn the metaphorical black hat so comfortably from the moment he declared his intention to race the Japanese sports, er, touring car.
The latest ‘Disruptor’ issue covers this tumultuous period over no less than 22 pages. In modern parlance a disruptor, according to our dictionary, is “Something that drastically alters or destroys the structure of something.” What better word to describe the man and his little Japanese cars!
In the end, the giant-killing RX7 almost killed Moffat himself, both metaphorically and physically. A huge accident at Surfers Paradise in 1984 left the four-time touring car champion battered and bruised in every sense. And then it was all over. CAMS adopted international Group A for 1985, Mazda and Peter Stuyvesant walked away from racing, and Allan Moffat was once again (at least until old rival Peter Brock came knocking) an unemployed racing driver.
Moffat himself, who sadly now has little memory of his glorious racing past, summed up the RX7 experience the article’s author David Hassall in a 1985 interview: “The fact that it took two years to homologate is Australian motorsport’s loss, as well as mine. I think you would agree that the Mazda RX7 did nothing but improve Australian touring car racing. It gave privateers an opportunity to compete at a financial level that wasn’t horrific. In the Ford days, 95 percent of everyone’s creative effort was spent on the engine and five percent on the car. The ratio with the Mazda was exactly the opposite. The only time we spent on the engine was how long it took to undo the box it came in…”
Our story also outlines what became of the chassis he raced between 1981 and early 1985.
Beyond our Disruptor story, the latest AMC examines another great civil war on the racetrack: the 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. There may not have been much Ford opposition but it was still one of the most hotly contested ATCC title fights ever. It was a fiercely fought and sometimes bitter civil war between two Holden camps: Peter Brock and the factory Holden Dealer Team vs Bob Morris and the Ron Hodgson Motors squad. The respective team bosses, John Sheppard and Peter Molloy share their recollections.
Meantime, the dream of driving around Australia is something that for most of us will remain always that: a dream, an unfulfilled item on the bucket list. That’s not the case, however, for a small group of Ford enthusiasts, who earlier this year took on the challenge of circumnavigating this wide brown land in a pair of Falcon XY GT-HO Phase IIIs.
Our ever-popular Muscle Man feature this issue profiles a Geoff Brabham. He carries the biggest Aussie name in world motorsport, but Geoff wasn’t content to be just a famous son. He carved out a remarkable international career over two decades – in Can-Am, Indycars, IMSA sports cars, Le Mans and even stock cars – then returned home to score more wins, including a controversial one at Bathurst.
All that and a whole lot more in issue #110 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.