Home' Supercar Xtra : Oct Nov 2015 Issue 89 Contents 90
LEGENDS FRANK COAD
claim that Class C winners Geoff Russell and David
Anderson in a Peugeot 403 had actually covered the
500 miles in a quicker time, owing to the class starts
being separated by 10 seconds and the Class C runners
starting 10 seconds later than those in Class D. Coad,
not surprisingly, never bought that story.
“In 1960, once we crossed the line after 167 laps,
well, the race was over,” he says.
“We were four laps ahead of it all, but Geoff Russell
put the story around that he could see the Vauxhall
and he should have won it because of the 10-second
gap. But that 10 seconds didn’t make any difference.
“In the words of Graham Hoinville, who went
through all the results 20 years ago after they rehashed
it and I went crook, the only way Geoff could see the
Vauxhall was in his rear-vision mirror as it was about
to pass him for the fourth time!”
The significance of what they’d achieved couldn’t be
fathomed, but they knew they’d done something great.
A O E Coad and Roxburgh
enjoying the accolades of
victory at Phillip Island.
“We were very proud of ourselves; there was a big do
at the Isle of Wight on the Sunday night and a big, gold
thing presented, which Cheney has,” says Coad.
“Of course, we didn’t realise what it all would mean.”
Coad and Roxburgh’s Great Race win in the Vauxhall
proved to be a crucial first step in the ‘win on Sunday,
sell on Monday’ culture that would fuel the local racing
scene through the decades and deliver classic cars like
the Cortina/Falcon GTs, Torana XU-1/A9X and more.
“GM, of course, didn’t race in those days,” says Coad.
“They didn’t want us to run and they threatened to
take the Vauxhall franchise off Cheney if he ran. But
who went and advertised the win in the Melbourne
papers on the Monday? General Motors!
“After that they couldn’t get enough Crestas; they
were coming in CKD (complete knocked-down form
for local assembly) and they hadn’t brought enough in,
so they ran out.
“GM realised the business potential after that;
they’re not stupid and they soon got involved. When
Harry Firth went over to Ford and brought the little
Cortinas out, that’s what really got it all started.”
Coad and Roxburgh backed up to defend their title in
1961 in a Velox (a cheaper version of the Cresta). They
were front-runners in the race until Roxburgh had a
major spin and had to pit for repairs. They ended up
second in Class A (the classes were restructured com-
pared to the previous year) and third outright behind
the winning Bob Jane/Harry Firth Mercedes 220SE
and Studebaker Lark of David Mackay and Brian Foley.
“The previous year we had Col running everything
like a tight ship and I think we let things go a bit in
1961,” says Coad.
“The problems John had that year were down to
him getting a bit loose the night before! He did a 360-
degree spin in mid-air at the first turn, landed on the
left-hand front and it bent everything under.
“We were very competitive. Once Jane had his tyre
troubles it was ours because we could round up the
Studebakers. But it got away from us. We were stopped
for two and half laps getting it straightened up and
that buggered us up!”
Coad and Roxburgh returned again in a Cheney-
entered Cresta for 1962’s final Armstrong 500 at
Phillip Island, but fell prey to the brutal track condi-
tions that contributed to the race location’s demise.
“We just kept breaking tie-rod ends; I broke one on
the right-hand side going around Southern Loop and
had to repair it myself to get it back,” he says.
“Then a bit later I was coming around Lukey Heights
and it did the left one! I was able to get it back but by
then we were down about six laps, so we retired it.”
Coad didn’t race at the inaugural Armstrong 500 at
Bathurst in 1963 or through most of the 1960s events.
“We were busy trying to get our lives and business
sorted out,” says Coad, who ran Holden dealers in
Victoria’s Mallee before making a switch to freelance
plane sales (he started flying in 1949).
“Racing was becoming more of a part-time thing.”
ELO The Cresta replica
has been lovingly restored
to match the original and is
still used regularly by the
Coad family today.
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