Falcon GT By The Years: 1977

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Ford Falcon XC Cobra
The 10th anniversary year of the racing Falcons, 1977 was their best ever. Over the last few years the crowds at race meetings had become used to seeing no more than two or three Falcons competing - but by the time of the 1977 Hardie-Ferodo there were no less than 12 Falcon's on the circuits. The year opened with the shock announcement that Colin Bond was leaving the Holden Dealer Team to join the Moffat Ford Dealer Team.

This announcement very much took everyone by surprise. However, it wasn't all that impossible either, as both these men had built up a solid respect and friendship for each other over their years as rivals on the racetrack.

The third part of this very effective package was one Carroll Smith, a highly regarded American mechanical engineer, who had worked with the successful Ford GT-40 teams at Le Mans in the mid 1960’s.

The result of all this was a thoroughly professional, well equipped and well financed racing team with only one object in mind - winning. Several other new Falcons appeared for the 1977 season, including the Pioneer car for Ron Dickson, the Bryan Byrt car for Dick Johnson and a car for Jim Richards (which had been rarely seen in the early part of the season).

Colin Bond's first appearance in the Falcon was at Sandown Park in February, where he won two races from two starts - a promising beginning! These races were completely dominated by the Moffat Ford Dealers Team. Of the seven “short” races, Moffat and Bond (dubbed the Dynamic Duo by the press) came in first and second respectively in four of them. Moffat won another with Bond in eighth place after he blew a tire on the first lap in the Oran Park round and in the last "short" race, at Lakeside, Peter Brock won with Bond second and Moffat a non-finisher.

Of the “long” Championship of Makes races, Moffat won two of the three races he entered, while Bond scored a second, two fifths and a did-not-finish. Other Falcon drivers did well too. Murray Carter, Ron Dickson, Dick Johnson and later on Jim Richards were often well up in the placings. John Goss only contested three rounds, scoring a fourth at Amaroo and suffering a heavy crash in the "short" race at Adelaide and a fire in the "long" race at Adelaide.

The series was not without drama for Moffat however, as at the fifth round at Sandown a 14-point protest was lodged against him by Norm Gown and countersigned by Allan Grice. After much investigation and mud-slinging, Moffat's cars were cleared.

For the first round of the Championship of Makes, also at Sandown, Holden introduced their new hatchback Torana, with the A9X competition option, including among other modifications, four-wheel disc brakes. The A9X specifications were also available for the four-door Torana's.

Also at Sandown, some of the Falcons appeared with XC series bodywork for the first time, with deeper front spoilers. At the conclusion of these two parallel series, Allan Moffat was again Australian touring car champion, with Colin Bond in second place.

Also Ford won the Championship of Makes to conclude a great year. The Rothmans 500 was a new event for 1977, with big prize money and national television coverage. It was raced over 581 kilometres at Oran Park. Six Falcon’s started, but only two finished, the race being the most disappointing of the year for Ford. The Dick Johnson/Jim Richards car crashed into the wall on the first lap, while the Falcon’s of Moffat and Bond, Ron Dickson and Fred Gibson, and John Goss and Leo Leonard withdrew with mechanical problems.

The first Falcon home was the Murray Carter/Bob Stevens car in fourth place, while Garry Willmington earned one of his best results by coming home in eighth place, sharing his car with Jeff Barnes. The event was won by the Pioneer Torana of Warren Cullen and Brian Sampson.

The 1977 Hardie-Ferodo was a great event if only for the degree of international participation. Drivers such as Jacki Ickx, Jack Brabham, Vern Schuppan, Leo Leonard, John Fitzpatrick, Johnnie Rutherford, Janet Guthrie, Henri Pescarolo, Gerry Marshal and Basil Van Rooyan added a strong character to the race. No less than 11 Falcons entered, the biggest Ford entry since 1971.

Many Believe This To Be Ford's Finest Hour...

Allan Moffat
was teamed with Jacki Ickx, Colin Bond with Alan Hamilton, John Goss with Henri Pescarolo, Jack and Geoff Brabharn were together in the second Goss car, Jim Richards with Rod Coppins, Ron Dickson with Fred bson, Dick Johnson with Vern Schuppan, Murray Carter with Bob Stevens, Rusty French with Leo Leonard in a new car, Rod Donovan and Ron Lindau, the two West Australian Kings of Wanneroo Park's "Street Class" races, also in a car new to production touring and finally, Jim Keogh was teamed with Graeme Ritter.

Against this were 19 Torana’s, a mixture of hatchback and four-door models, headed by the Marlboro-Holden Dealer cars led by John Harvey, plus a three-car entry from Bill Patterson Racing with Peter Brock their No 1 driver. There was good back-up in the other Torana teams. For the first time the cars were permitted to use two-way radios to communicate with their pit crews.

Practice saw Peter Brock on pole position with a time of 2min 24.9sec, one-tenth better than Moffat's time in 1976. Colin Bond was next fastest with a 2min 26.4sec to take the other position on the front row of the grid. Moffat started. from position 4. The next best Falcon was that of Jim Richards who unobtrusively earned sixth spot.

The race was dominated by Moffat, Bond, Ickx and Hamilton, the two Falcon’s crossing the line in a classic 1-2 formation, finishing only inches apart after instructions were given to the cars by Carroll Smith to put on a grandstand finish. The two cars did the last lap side by side in one of the most stirring moments witnessed at Bathurst.

Of the other Falcons, only two were classed as finishers, the Dickson/Gibson car being credited with 11th outright after an over-rev in the opening laps did enough damage to the engine to rob the car of a lot of power, and the Brabham/Brabham Falcon which was racing very strongly for most of the race, actually being third outright (behind Moffat and Bond) for some time, was credited with 16th outright.

The others suffered from various maladies, Murray Carter for example, blowing an engine after 19 laps. His crew worked for a couple of hours to install a new engine, and after 19 further laps that one blew as well!

The Torana challenge for this race appeared to be, and was, very strong. But the Moffat cars simply could not be challenged on the day. They ran faultlessly at a very fast pace, the only untoward happening being a tire change on Moffat's car in the closing laps. It was the perfect conclusion to 10 years of racing Falcon's.

Also see:
GT Falcon Race Results 1977
Bathurst Race Results 1977
Bathurst Race Program 1977
Bathurst Memorable Moments
Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource