In 1980, thousands of fans watched Bathurst with great interest as a relatively unheard of driver took the early lead. 16 laps in, and Dick Johnson’s name was being repeated by the Channel 7 commentary team over and over. How long could this comparative unknown in his XD Falcon keep ahead of crowd favourite Peter Brock in his Torana?
One of those watching the coverage was young Aucklander Frank Malcon. While still many years away from being able to get his driver’s licence, he liked what he saw unfolding on the screen in front of him.
But then, as for most viewing that day, suddenly that enjoyment was rudely interrupted as a random split-second incident occurred that would both colour the legacy of Bathurst and landmark Dick Johnson’s nascent racing career. As a large boulder rolled from the unfenced spectator area above the track it came right into the racing line in front of Johnson’s car. With nowhere to go, hitting the concrete wall was the only option, and just like that, his car and his hopes of winning the event were destroyed.
That incident left a lasting impression on young Frank, one that many years later would see him get the urge to build a (more…)