Worth it in the long haul – Phlying Phil Barrow’s adventures in the FJ Supercar
Report by Phil Barrow.
Our trip north to take part in the Morgan Park Historic started when the family and everything you need for two weeks finally packed and we set off on the long drive north.
Day 1 saw us at Dubbo and the Big Dish. Day 2 it was off to the Dubbo Zoo for the kids (and big kids!), by Day 3 we had reached Warwick, greeted along the way by hundreds of roos and emus! Day 4 was a lovely trip to Queen Mary falls and the Warwick Steam Railway – and then, finally, off to Morgan Park.
On the Thursday we were in around 3pm, setting up with all the early Holdens. Invited to the Horse & Jockey Hotel for drinks that night, we were introduced to Queensland hospitality – drinks just appeared on the table!
Then Friday practice: learning the track, bedding brakes and going bush twice on this great little track. That evening, a meet ‘n greet night with loads of raffles and guest speakers, with early Holden man Steve Jeffs as MC. What a great night. Nearly all 280 entrants attended and we won four raffles, each time being called up as “Australia’s fastest FJ”.
Saturday and it was time get a bit more serious. The brakes were now working and I had my first real shot on this top circuit. My target was the class record of 1.407 – smashed it, posting a 1.38.6 – very happy!
Race 1 . Started 25th with a great start and was hunting down hero driver Matt Campbell who was driving a yellow Datsun Coupe and had a great view of the FJ grille for lap after lap as I sat right on his bumper. On the last lap I forced him to brake late, took the inside, then outside and left him high and dry, finishing 19th, lowering the class record to 1.37.8 and outfoxing a 2018 Le Mans winner!
But the joy was shortlived. In Race 2 we broke the clutch of the start but kept going. Slipping badly, the FJ still ran well while having a great dice with a Volvo and lapping in the 1.40s. So it was out with the clutch only to find I had raced on rivets, all the linings had gone. Got the spare out only to find the centre was cracked…
Well, the Queensland helpers went to work – we had fellers out everywhere looking for a new one. But what turned up had the wrong spline. A great weekend looked lost when Duncan Miller of Tweed Heads came to rescue, arriving back at Morgan Park at 8am after a 3-hour drive from 5am. What a legend!
We had the clutch in and the car running with moments to spare before Race 3 – but it was running like a tractor, idling on five cylinders, only revving out on six. Driver not happy, no time to sort it out, time to grid up. Bagged it up off the start so a little slow, but got it all back by Turn 1. Drove the wheels of a sick-sounding old girl, over-revving and spitting the fan belt at the end of the penultimate lap. Bugger – DNF. But not all was lost – a new class record 1.37.2 – not bad for five cylinders…
We fixed the belt while the spark plugs got some special some attention from a great Qld friend, the ex-Appendix J Mini king, Graeme Douglass. With plugs sorted and the engine on all six – bring on the first ever all-Holden race! Got a great start, splitting two Monaros and then had a great time dicing with Steve Jeffs in his new EH and ending up with the FJ Supercar taking 3rd in Nb.
Morgan Park was a great race meeting with even greater hospitality. To anyone thinking about the trip north – it’s well worth it!