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Journeys : June July 2009
Life on the move of a car doctor Racing in the 50s, MG TC Lightweight, Kenley-Vincent Longford, Warwick Farm and Pukekohe. Geoff knew and liked them all, but his personal favourite was the man whose cars he prepared, John Youl, whom he describes as the most talented F1 driver to come out of Tasmania. In those days, F1 was not the closed shop it is today. If you could get hold of a car, you could run in the Tasman series. If you were a mechanic, it was your job to take the race car out for testing, engine bedding, brake bedding, checking gear ratios etc. And it was not unusual to swap cars and get a feel for what the opposition were running. Geoff had a nostalgic experience recently when he was visiting Singapore. When he was picked up at the airport and driven to his hotel, the route took him along many streets that were familiar to him from his days working as a race mechanic in Singapore. But the one that stood out was the teeming, congested Bukit-Tima Highway. “In 1968 when I was working for Newton Enterprise Racing in Singapore, this highway was the only convenient carriageway to test the race cars,” he recalls. “My memory of driving a Brabham F1 car on this road, which was terribly congested even then, today seems quite unbelievable.” He has had very few accidents in his motoring career, and has never suffered an injury in a car, but has ‘plenty of bent pride’ to show for it. Perhaps his most famous prang was when he was navigating for Bruce Jessup in his Ferrari 308 GT4 in Targa Tasmania 1998, when the car left the road on the Ridgeway Park stage in Hobart, hit a large rock, went up a tree and rolled. Neither was hurt and the car is now back on the road after a lengthy rebuild. Speaking of rebuilds, Geoff is back in touch with his first love. When I visited him about a year ago he took me downstairs to show me his latest purchase – a cream 1953 Morgan Plus Four that he describes as his ‘personal pacemaker.’ It was a very nice, original car, and Geoff intended to just fix it up and enjoy it – but perfectionism reared its head and he has now carried out a full restoration and respray. Geoff describes modern cars (and he does have a couple) as ‘more like a robotic aid than the mechanical marvels that demanded attention and care in huge amounts before the present throwaway age.’ The big bang... Targa 1998 Low Head 1950 Brabham in Singapore 1968 June / July 09 25 hom he Land Speed Record 1961
April May 2009
August September 2009