Bathurst 1000 Hardie’s Heroes 1981
I still have quite a serious hangover of Bathurst 1000 fever. I just love that race, it’s nothing short of grand opera.
One of the best things about the event is the qualifying format. These days it’s called the top 10 shootout and is over one flying lap, but of course it was once called Hardie’s Heroes and was two chances for each driver, both over a flying lap.
In 1981 the top 10 was comprised of five Holden Commodores, two Ford Falcons, two Camaros and the lone Mazda RX-7 of Bathurst 1000 legend Allan Moffat.
The Bathurst 1000 always throws up serious drama and ’81 was no different, for come Saturday, it was raining cats and dogs.
The 1980 Formula 1 world champion, Alan Jones, who had returned to Australia after quitting F1 ,was a spectator during the top 10 shootout having failed to make the cut. TV legend Mike Raymond interviews him and finds more gold. Mike says “Make Carlos happy do you think, the weather?” To which Jones replied “He’d just pack up and go home.”
Back then they still had a massive 23 cameras and the coverage was amazing. At the end of the second video (8.12) after Kevin Bartlett takes pole, beating Dick Johnson, both drivers are sitting in their cars side by side and they shake hands (the Camaro is left hand drive). The drivers are then interviewed and here is part of the exchange.
KB “…..everybody that was out there, and i watched them all on the ‘box, they were all havin’ a go. And ah sorry to do it to you again this year Dick, I really thought that you might have got it.” Dick Johnson replies “There’s gonna be no rocks though this year, KB.” And of course he was right. Come Sunday, Dicky would win the Great Race of 1981.
Ahh Bathurst, only another 361 days to go.
1981 Hardie’s Heroes Top 10
1. Kevin Bartlett – Chevrolet Camaro
2. Dick Johnson – Ford Falcon
3. Peter Brock – Holden Commodore
4. Bob Morris – Ford Falcon
5. Allan Moffat – Mazda Rx-7
6. Garry Rogers – Holden Commodore
7. Larry Perkins – Holden Commodore
8. John Harvey - Holden Commodore
9. Ron Dickson – Chevrolet Camaro
10. Garth Wigston – Holden Commodore