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Bathurst 1000 maestros


And what better place for a reunion and an anniversary celebration than the Australian Muscle Car Masters at Eastern Creek, where more than 500 of these powerful, historic cars will be raced and displayed.

It's a step into the past as racing car legends such as Morris, Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Leo Geoghegan, Harry Firth, John Goss and many more will be in attendance to meet fans and sign autographs.

All the best cars from the 1960s, '70s and '80s will strut their stuff in Historic Touring Races and Hot Lap sessions. Morris hasn't driven that winning Torana L34 in almost 30 years, and is looking forward to his hot lap next Sunday, September 3.

"It was the very first Torana with a V8 engine and the car that we raced was the very first Torana L34 that was ever built off the production line," Morris said this week. "It was fantastic. I raced that car in 1975, also, and I drove with Frank Gardner that year and we came in second place. So it had a second outright and a first outright at Bathurst, and I don't know if that's been repeated."

Morris says the 1976 victory was the highlight of his 20-year career, describing it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The piece of nostalgia that saw him to success now lives at the Bathurst Museum but will make the trek to Eastern Creek next weekend.

In a contrast of fortune, also on display will be the Torana that captured all the 1976 pre-race publicity but crashed on the grid. The blue Torana due to be driven in that race by Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss jammed in gear at the start and was rammed from behind by a little Triumph Dolomite.

Now, 30 years later, it too has been restored for display.

More than 150 cars have already entered the race events with a range of Historic Touring Car events covering categories from the 1950s to the '90s. And there will be specific events, such as the biggest Torana race in the world and the best of the best.

Racing driver Des Wall is looking forward to toeing the line next Sunday in the classic he bought at an auction last November.

The Ian "Pete" Geoghegan Mustang, which has a story of its own, is worth quite a large sum. Wall claims it is probably the best car of its time.

"It's a significant car in Australian motor-racing history. It won three Australian touring car championships and it's been restored to the way it was in 1971," Wall says.

Wall has been racing for more than 30 years and his son, David, has followed in his footsteps as a race driver.

He says the Mustang performs surprisingly well, but differently, of course, to the newer Porsches and Chev Corvette he usually races.

"It's very good. It surprised me how competitive the car is for a car of that era," he says. "We drive current race cars also. The difference ... I expected it to be wider than what it is. Apart from the brakes not being what current cars have, the car is quite a substantial race car."

Next Sunday's show is expected to draw big crowds, after the same event last year attracted more than 10,000 people, despite appalling weather.

"I think a lot of people who are motor-racing enthusiasts are getting more and more interested in the history, they want to see the cars that the heroes were in," Wall says.

"Some people love football and tennis and various things, we just love motor racing. It's our sport of choice, something we're very passionate about."

Among the classic old touring cars on display that became famous in the golden Bathurst era of the 1970s and '80s will be the VK Group A Commodore that gave Allan Grice his first Bathurst win, in 1986. Also on show is the Allan Moffat/Jacky Ickx Falcon XC Hardtop that was involved in the dominant Ford 1-2 team win in 1977. The only man to win Bathurst and the Australian Grand Prix, John Goss, will display his 1974 winning Falcon and the 1985 winning Jag XJS. Kevin Bartlett will have his Chev Camaro in action.

The event is also a major drawcard for car clubs. The 2006 Torana GTR and XU-1 Nationals are expected to attract up to 80 road-going machines.

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