Stephen Gregory Service Crew Car 60

I was a young technical officer at 3HA Hamilton when the cars came ashore at Perth on way to Sydney.
I knew Stephen Baird Wes’s mechanic from Stawell and when I found that Wes and Noel were pretty well financing the car and their travelling expenses I approached some of the advertisers at the radio station and was able to secure a large number of travel vouchers to stop at any Flag Inn, for a rest stop.
Two Way Radios were required and I obtained AWA units, which were fitted to the Corolla in Perth and to the Toyota Corona, which I acquired from Stephen Baird at Stawell Toyota for $4000.
Stephen agreed to support the crew for the Adelaide to Temora loop, and I went to Alice Springs loaded up with spares from Australian Motor Industries in Port Melbourne.
I had spare axles, a diff, brakes, alternator, starter motor, driving lights, front and rear shocks and struts as well as two four stud wheels and tyres and four jerry cans three fuel one of water.

We communicated at night on 2020 KHz RFDS channel and after they came up The Gun Barrel we met out near Giles and I shepherded car 60 back to Alice and stayed at the Flagg in on the layover date.

They did the Tanami loop and I went up to Katherine and then drove back down to Tenant Creek and out to Yuendumu to escort them back in to Alice, all in 48 hours and then we headed south to Port Augusta in 10-12 hours over the dirt, which started at Hungerford in those days and ended at Woomera.

That 24 hour day started with the Bon-Bon station with a broken axle housing in the Corolla which we repaired with steel droppers and Silicon using a petrol driven welder and then driving into Port Augusta and seeing a brand new Toyota Corolla in the window of the Toyota dealers MINUS its rear axle assembly which had been cannibalised to put into Nadler’s rally car. I laughed myself silly it was so funny;

Then after waiting for them to do the special section in Pitchie Ritchie pass in the Flinders ranges, I followed them down to Quorn but Wes became so concerned about my erratic driving, Noal came back and drove the service car while I had my first sleep in 24 hours.

I have some pictures on my website
Of the conditions in those days.

My website is all about the service car a 1974 Toyota Corona GT and you can find photos from the SAL Rally including the finish at the Sydney opera house where someone drove their 4WD up the steps. I have lots of slides of the rally if anyone wants copies.

As service crew of one I saw many dramas and had day-to-day contact with the rally crews and filed many stories like the ones above.
I carried a Studer recorder and the hardest thing was finding phone boxes to send in my daily reports to 2UE/3HA/Max Stahl and the Macquarie B/S.
And then catch up with the rally crew.

After Adelaide I had 24 hours to get to Temora NSW, so I went to my folks place and washed all my tee-shirts and had them spread out all over the car as I headed east to Tailem bend and to Hay where I was forced to rest in another Flagg Inn due to severe fatigue.
I made it to Temora having been passed by car 72 at a rapid speed, followed about ten minutes later by a red faced policeman in an old Holden Ute who was at the service point on the outskirts of Temora looking for the dusty old Porsche;
- CAMS started setting speed (amphometer) traps in NSW and warned us that if the service crew got pinged for speeding the rally car would be disqualified;
- the night of DUST up on way to White Cliffs;
- The rally Finish, was it Dunkerton who drove up the steps in his FWD? (No it was Brian Chuchua in the Jeep Car 41 … FLASH)
- I also have photos of the grey test Mercedes 280E 5-speed twin cam that ran ahead of the pack and that amazing Mercedes mobile MOWOG service centre on wheels.
- Cowan who ploughed ahead 1 km into the spinifex and scrub on the North South Rd from Alice and had to be winched out;
- a photo of a Cessna aircraft on the road out in NSW booked by the local police for landing on a road to render service to one of the rally crews;
- a photo of the Subaru that hit the kangaroo, peeling back the roof that kicked and broke the Japanese navigators arm;
- Car 48 hit a kangaroo on navigator’s side big time;
- the truck that was car (?)73 which was an awesome Leyland Terrier with the stuffed monkey mascot;
- Letting some of the crews (Ellis and co) into the Flag inn in North Adelaide after the overnight run from Alice. The carpets were white? The boys were red with dust and the rest, as they say, is a funny story.

After Temora it was on to Wilcannia and then the rally car went to Quilpie (and ran out of fuel and had to get the QUILPIE cop out of bed) and I went along the border road/track to Cunnamulla and Toowoomba, we then went into Brisbane in tandem but were very late so waved at our Flag Inn as we went by.

Some much need repairs to both cars, swapped two of my Cibie Super Oscars onto the rally car, did some panel beating and then off over the mountains back down to Cunnamulla.

On the way a special section and two blow outs for the rally car, so in the service car (mindful of the speed traps) was sent on a 170 km dash to Cunnamulla, stopped at the tyre place and got two SP44’s repaired and had them waiting at the side of the road when the rally car rolled by a half an hour later.

I then had a quick shower whist the service station fitted me a new back windscreen which had been shattered when a kangaroo jumped onto the back of the rally car on the border road. Then it was off on a lap dash to catch up with the field.

The rest was pretty tame, down to Tamworth and then into the Hunter valley for a night/feast at the Pokolbin wineries and then the mad dash down the highway to the Sydney Opera house.

Car 60 (where are you?) Corolla Sprinter Coupe with 3KB and 5 speed T series gearbox discs and drums, ended up on the podium at the finish in Sydney and then on display at York motors right over the road from Cowans Black Merc, and to realise those privateers had WON Class A (engine size up to 1300cc) in a tiny Corolla Coupe with a 3KB engine.

The Toyota Corona GT, was the car AMI never brought into Australia, it was every bit as quick as the GT Celica with 18RG twin cam, dual Mikuni Solex carbies, 145 BHP into a P51 gearbox and 4.11 F series LSD.
A fast touring car perfect as a support vehicle and loaded to the gunnels with car parts it still managed to make about 300k from a tank of super.
And I never crashed in the whole 5000 km I drove as service support.

Stephen Gregory

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