AMC EXTRA: More from Max McLeod…

Max McLeod-1Issue #56 features an extensive interview with Max McLeod, the long-time sponsor of racer John Goss. The association made Sydney-based McLeod Ford one of the best known Ford dealers in Australia. That’s no mean feat when you consider that McLeod Ford no longer exists under that name, and that its founder, Max McLeod, sold the business decades ago.

But McLeod Ford is known more for the cars it raced, and the races it won, than for the Fords it sold. Ask any motorsport or muscle car fan over the age of 30 and chances are they’ll know McLeod Ford as the sponsor of Goss, and the dealer-backed race team that scored a fairytale win at Bathurst in 1974.

Here’s more from Steve Normoyle’s interview with McLeod that we couldn’t squeeze into the July/August edition of AMC.

ON THE BUSES

Max McLeod-2Like many race teams in the 1970s, the McLeod Ford team had its own double decker bus which it took to the races. The old double deckers were being decommissioned from service around that time, so they were cheap to buy, and, with the roof cut off, they could be adapted into a kind of portable hospitality suite and viewing platform.

Most of these chopped down buses ended up on the scrap heap after their trackside duties were done. For the McLeod Ford Racing bus, however, there would be life after motor racing. Max McLeod takes up the story…

“After we finished the racing, we still had the bus. It was parked out the back in one of our yards. It had been sitting out there for about six months when I get a phone call from a guy from a radio station in Towoomba. He said, ‘you’ve got a double decker bus’, and I said, ‘yes I do, how do you know that?’ And he said, ‘because I fly over it once a month when I come to Sydney’. Of course, at Rockdale we were under the flight path, and he can see the bus and the McLeod Ford signs on the side of it from the plane as they’re coming in to land.

Max McLeod-3“He said, ‘do you want to sell it?’ And I said, ‘yes, I do want to sell it’. So we did a deal. When I told Paul [Dollimore, the McLeod Ford employee who used to drive the bus to race meetings] we had to deliver the bus, he said, ‘I don’t think that bus will make it all the way to Towoomba!’ Anyway, he did get it there, and we got our money for it. They wanted it for some kind of radio station promotion.”

DRIVE A PHASE III TO BATHURST

We would have thought that any excuse to drive a Falcon GT-HO from Sydney to Bathurst is a good excuse. And certainly when the Falcon GT-HO you’re racing at Bathurst is more or less exactly the same as the ones you’re selling back at the dealership, it’s not a bad idea to pull one off the lot and use it as your personal transport to the Mountain. You never know, it might come in handy should anything go wrong with the race car.

Max McLeod-4But, as Max McLeod recalls, it’s worth reminding yourself that what you are driving is actually pretty much the same piece of kit, with the same kind of performance, as the actual race car…
“I was driving a GT-HO at the time, and I drove it to Bathurst as the spare car – my demo car, but the car they’d rip stuff off when anything broke on the race car!

“Anyway, we didn’t get accommodation in Bathurst that year and we had to stay at Orange. So coming back from Bathurst, well, those GT-HOs just flew – you could hardly stop them from doing 100 miles an hour! – and we just get into the 35mph zone coming into town, and I’ve got a siren in my ear.

Max McLeod-3“I pull over, and the copper said ‘you were doing 50mph back there’, and I said ‘no I was just slowing down, I had my foot off the accelerator’, and he said ‘well that’s OK but you’ve got yourself a ticket’.

“We go back to the hotel, and one of the guys with us was Bruce Consadine – he was one of our new car salesmen – and Bruce’s brother was in the highway patrol at Cronulla.

“So Bruce says, ‘I’ll ring my brother and see what he can do’. So he gets brother on the line and says, ‘I know the blokes up there and I’ll talk to them’.

Max McLeod-5“So he ends up talking to the bloke who actually booked me, and he says, ‘I can’t do much about it, it’s in the book’, so we get a call back from Bruce’s brother to tell us this, and he says the ‘the reason he booked you for doing 50 in a 35mph zone was because he couldn’t catch you until you got to the 35mph zone!’ He’d been chasing us for miles and could not get near us!”

More from Max McLeod, including what it was like working with Goss, in the July/August 2011 edition of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

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