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Thommo’ is Phillip Island Classic Patron

Bryan Thomson, one of the enduring and best-known names of Australian Touring Cars and Sports Sedan racing in the 1960s to 1980s, has agreed will be Patron of the 26th Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport from March 5-8.

‘Thommo’, who raced the famous Monza Holden and the ex-Bib Stillwell Cooper Climax in the early 1960s, made history in 1967 when he and his wife Loel set sail for the UK with the ex-Norm Beechey 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship-winning Ford Mustang in the hold of the liner ‘Fairstar’.

Not only was it the first Mustang in the world to win a race and the first to win a National championship in Beechey’s hands, but Thomson became the first Australian to take a local Touring Car racing overseas.

In the UK and Europe that year he competed in an incredible 70 different events with the re-branded ’Ecurie Shepparton’ Mustang – often at two different race meetings the same weekend – taking podium places in 45 races and scoring a string of lap records against strong British and European touring car opposition.

Returning to Australia “broke”, Thommo promised Loel a new car, but this tongue-in-cheek offer was rejected when he offered to convert the racing Mustang for road use!

Instead, he headed to the United States and returned with a ‘1964 and a half’ notchback six-cylinder base-model Mustang that he purchased for $800 at auction, personally converted to right hand drive back in Australia and presented it to his more appreciative wife!

That Mustang, still largely in its original metallic blue patina, will be the Thomsons’ transport to the Phillip Island Classic Festival this year, where as well as signing autographs and attending the official ‘Classic ’dinner, Bryan will join with the ex-Allan Moffat TransAm and other Mustangs in parades of the circuit over the weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mustang.

“It’s not that exciting to drive compared with the two other Mustangs I have owned,” said Thomson. “In its day it was the cheapest Mustang at $2,300 that you could buy and it has only a three-speed manual gearbox and drum brakes. But it’s a Mustang and 50 years on it’s now probably a collector’s item!”

“It’s a real honour to be asked,” said Thomson, who after the Beechey Mustang went on to race a Camaro in the Australian Touring Car Championship, a frightening Chev-powered VW Type 3, a Chev-engined Mercedes-Benz SLS and finally a Chevy Monza in the Australian Sports Sedan Championship.

Now a spritely 80 years of age and retired from circuit racing, his museum-like garage in Melbourne houses not only the early Mustang, but a V12Jaguar, one of the first Elfin Streamliner V8 sports cars of the modern Elfin era, a Toyota Supra and a large collection of on and off-road motorcycles that he thinks nothing of riding for up to 10 hours a day.

More than 500 historic open wheeler, sports and touring cars spanning eight decades have entered the three-day Phillip Island classic meeting from March 5-8, which will deliver a record amount of track time for all competitors.

Racing will commence on the Friday afternoon following morning practice and qualifying, with each Historic category enjoying two races on the Saturday and most taking part in two Sunday races.

As in previous years, the meeting is being staged by the VHRR with continued support from Penrite, Shannons, CoolDrive and Repco.

For further information visit www.vhrr.com or call (03) 9877 2317.

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