Hardtop Anniversary 2009 - "Another go"
After the success of the first Hardtop Anniversary, the Falcon Cobra Club decided to leave the FCCA to go it alone. The two clubs had formed an enduring relationship since 2005 and there were no hard feelings.
The FCCA boys sat down and wondered how to go about rising to the task and bringing home a second Echuca event. They did not want to let the enthusiasts down and decided that Murray Carter had not received his share of the limelight in ’07.
Murray Carter and long time Ford designer Wayne Draper were the special guests for the ’09 “Hardtop Anniversary” (HTA). Murray had been long admired by Ford fans as the battler, the privateer with no official factory backing but still taking it up to The Generals best.
Often Murray was the only Ford driver in the field to wrestle with the Torana hordes. There was a rumour that at one stage Holden management offered to finance Murray so that the Torana drivers would have someone to race other than themselves. Wayne Draper worked at Ford in the era of muscle cars. He was a prodigious designer during the 70’s and left his indelible mark on the coupes, both road and racecars, in so many ways.
Registration was moved to The Paddlewheel Motel for the Friday meet and greet. The Echuca Lions Club helped out with a BBQ for the assembled travellers.
Once again, Morley Ford was the focal point for the early morning gathering prior to the journey to Shepparton. At DECA, the obligatory driving skill courses were undertaken and the day progressed well. Murray Carter was the focus of attention on the short course and Tom Vondrasek’s black Morley Ford XC racecar was Murray’s weapon of choice. As John Goss had done two years before, Murray had the fans spellbound and the cameras snapping as he negotiated the DECA short course putting in some very respectable lap times. The crowd showed their appreciation as he emerged from the black beast. It was fantastic to see Murray back behind the wheel of a coupe. Then, to add to the fans enjoyment, he took the wheel of Allan Moffat’s City Ford tribute car for a few laps with Stu Dearden as passenger.
Saturday night saw most entrants converge on the Merool function centre in Moama for a relaxing evening. Some people wore fancy dress and children were entertained by participating in a colouring competition. There was a jukebox with Karaoke and some of the ladies were very entertaining with the usual party dances including, Nutbush, Bus stop and the Macarena.
Sunday dawned and the enthusiastic coupe owners assembled once again at Morley Ford ready to make their way to the site of the show and shine. The site was again the car park of the shire buildings in Hare Street. After making their way through the town, they assembled in the car park and on the grass along the old railway line. It was a spectacular sight with three race replicas including a purple and silver Citizen Watches John Goss XB, the Brut 33 car and the red City Ford. Over eighty coupes had once again turned out to celebrate thirty years since the coupes last raced at the mountain. Merchandise sales were brisk and once again, the crowd enjoyed great weather. During the day, Murray Carter and Wayne Draper signed autographs and chatted with the crowd. By mid-afternoon, the coupes started to trickle out of the park to prepare for the evening’s festivities.
The Sunday presentation dinner was held at Radcliffes, a rustic reception room and restaurant adjacent to the show and shine site. Radcliffes is an interesting venue with a garden atmosphere and grapevines overhead. The trophy presentations took place in accordance with normal procedure awarding best in each category and runner up.
Murray took to the stage and enthralled the audience with stories and anecdotes of a bygone era that no one disputed or queried, such is his credibility in motor racing history.
Wayne Draper followed him with a slide show depicting his career at the Ford Motor Company. There were numerous examples of his designs and he showed us a number of cars that didn’t make it to the production line. Fortunately, there were many others that went on to become icons.
Hardtop Anniversary 2009 was co-sponsored by Shannons Insurance and Rare Spares with support from Morley Ford and numerous trophy sponsors