2023Competition ReportsNews

The story of a FJ – a Frickin’ Ji-normous effort!

By Phil Barrow

There were tears shed when Phil Barrow’s Famous Family FJ seriously smacked the wall at Phillip Island in early March. Could it be fixed? In a year, six months? Try six weeks, at home after work. Just one man and a helluva wife… There was another race meeting to be contested! A breathless Phil Barrow recounts the story…

“It all begins doing my favourite thing – Cortina hunting. Last lap Sunday morning at the Island Classic on the rear bumper of Kim Shearn’s Lotus Cortina. He has a slight wiggle on the turn in on the final corner. I lift off the throttle and see my change to pass. Only one problem – I forgot to trail brake to keep the diff locked up!

As soon as I jump on the accelerator the old girl turns left. This resulted in hitting the tyre covered wall for the pit entry, going in backwards and tipping the front in, just to rub salt into the wound. 

The damage was very extensive. The whole rear was crushed, the front was pushed across 260mm and all my lovely chrome destroyed. On the plus side I was not injured at all – but my pride was dinted. 
Two weeks later a friend of mine lends us a master bench. So my Number On, Kellie, asks “What are the chances of getting to Mallala?” My response – “forget it!”.

Well, by that Sunday afternoon we’ve made jigs to hold the car, stripped her down and mounted on the bench. We now have three and a half weeks.

I start pulling, not having any idea where to start. By Tuesday we have the rear shape looking good, but the boot didn’t fit. After wasting two more days my Number One suggests another boot lid. Bingo – fixed!

So as I go to straighten the front Kellie enters Mallala Historic. Still miles off, Kellie organises all my chrome and spares needed. Thank you, Rarespares and Dave Ryan for the hard-to-get parts. 
Kellie has our entertaining area full of panels, she’s paint stripping and sanding.

I have lots of trouble pulling the rails straight but finally get the front to line up. It’s now Easter. The weather is not our friend. Trying to paint 2-Pack in the rain and cold. Not my best job. But we have colour on most parts by Easter Monday. Stripe’s done by Thursday. Now we have to put it all back together. A few minor alignment issues but success.

We finish 4.30 pm Wednesday – and straight into the trailer for our Mallala road trip early the next morning!

Wow we made it! All due to the Best Wife in the World. It was just she and I who did all this work.  
We practice on Friday with only a slight vibration from the tyres. We were so happy with the results.
After our second run photographer Peter Knights pulls up. “Ha Phil, I have some spare parts for you.” On the back seat is a box. We get it out and open it. A giant vinyl poster of the FJ Supercar in full flight!

Peter says we deserve this for all our effort and the great entertainment I had given him over the years. Wow, humbled by his actions and so blown away. Then several representatives of the Sporting Car Club of SA welcome us and thank us for our efforts to support their meeting. 

Quali not so good as the gear box fails. A quick change (He can do this with his eyes shut. Ed) and we are ready to race.

The South Australian Historic Touring Car Club made us feel at home. At our Saturday afternoon drinks they gave out gifts to all interstaters and the final was a special gift was for us. A little trophy for biggest effort…

What a weekend of fun. Back to chasing Cortinas all weekend, even finish in front of them all in Race 4. Last race of the weekend is by far the most entertaining for me. After Les Walmsley and Stuart Barnes pass me I’m in the box seat sitting behind the two Cortinas and their epic battle. If only there was one more lap!

What a race – and the best weekend!”

If there was ever a classic story about classic car racing this is it. It epitomises everything good and wholesome about car clubs and the Vic and SA  HTC Clubs in particular.

But most of all it shows what a determined husband and wife can do against the odds and their passion for historic car racing and the car that’s been in their family for generations. Pass me the tissues…