IRWIN Racing Duo Take To Mount Panorama In Original Great Race Winner

IRWIN Racing has gone back in time as part of the lead-up to the 50th running of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 7.

Lee Holdsworth and Craig Baird have traded their modern day Ford Falcon V8 Supercar from Stone Brothers Racing, for a direct replica of the 1963 Bathurst winning Ford Cortina Mk I GT of Bob Jane and Harry Firth.

The IRWIN Racing duo took to the famous Mount Panorama in the Cortina which is identical to the winning car down to the number plates which were required under the road registered rules of the time.

Holdsworth and Baird lapped the circuit under normal road rules, obeying the 60 km/h speed limits. Even at that leisurely pace both drivers got an appreciation for what it would have been liked at the first 500 mile production car race at Bathurst.

The car was as it finished with vinyl seats and even standard wheels and tyres of the day. In fact the car completed the race distance on the one set of tyres.

Going on last year’s Great Race the winning car finished the 161 laps in just under six hours and 27 at a race average speed of 155 km/h. Compared to the 1963, race teams now do 30 more laps, finish the race in 80 minutes less time and average 50 km/h faster.


Lee Holdsworth

“It’s great to get to drive one of the old production cars and it gives you an appreciation of the era of racing,” said Holdsworth.

“It did all 500 miles on one set of tyres and this year we expect to change the rubber up to eight times during the 2012 race.

“Standard everything in the car and no power steering, plus the track had very little in the way of run-off areas or safety fencing.

“The race these days is called an endurance event, but it’s a 100% sprint from the word go. If you drove the 1963 Cortina the same way we do the modern day V8 Supercar it would be out of brakes after three laps!”

Craig Baird

“You certainly would not want to have a crash in it that’s for sure,” said Baird.

“No six-point driving harness, sliding around on vinyl seats with no safety gear in it at all. It was a real survival of the fittest back in those days.

“It gives you a great perspective on how things have evolved with the cars and the track. We can re-create what it would have been like to drive the car, but in terms of how the track has changed you can’t go back to the days without fences — thank goodness!”



Engine : 5.0-litre Windsor fuel-injected V8 with control MoTeC engine management control system
Power : Estimated 635+ bhp limited to maximum 7,500 RPM
Gearbox : Control six-speed sequential Holinger gearbox – Australian made
Differential : 9 inch – Ratio 3.15:1
Clutch : Triple plate carbon 7 1/4 inch
Suspension : Front – Double wishbone suspension with coil over adjustable damper and cockpit adjustable front anti roll bar
Rear – Four link rear suspension with adjustable watts link, coil over adjustable rear dampers with cockpit adjustable rear anti roll bar
Brakes : Front – Alcon 6 Piston Monobloc Caliper with removable bridge bar 375mm ventilated discs
Rear – Alcon 4 Piston Monobloc Caliper 343mm ventilated disc
Wheels : Rimstock control 17 inch x 11 inch magnesium alloy
Tyres : Dunlop control tyre
Fuel Capacity : 75 Litres (Sprint events),120 litre (Endurance events)
Vehicle Weight : 1345kg (category minimum without Driver)
Top Speed : 294+ kph
0-100km/h : 3.8 seconds


Engine : 1.5-litre Kent Carburettor: Weber DCD twin-choke, downdraught
Power : Estimated 78 bhp at 5,200 RPM
Gearbox : Ford, four-speed manual, all synchromesh
Differential : “English” 6 Inch – Ratio 3.900:1
Clutch : Diaphragm-spring
Suspension : Front – Independent McPherson struts with coil springs and integral shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
Rear – Semi-elliptic leaf springs with telescopic shock absorbers
Brakes : Front – 241mm discs
Rear – 229mm x 45mm drums
Wheels : Pressed steel 4J x 13inch
Tyres : Crossply road tyres
Fuel Capacity : 36 Litres
Vehicle Weight : 866kg (kerb weight without Driver)
Top Speed : 153 kph
0-100km/h : 13.5 seconds

The Cortina GT was developed after the standard cars had their design settled, and was released in April 1963. The two-door cost £749 (approximately $1500).

The GT’s engine was developed by Cosworth. The 1500cc produced 78 bhp at 5200 rpm, with the help of a double-barrel Weber carburettor pushing the GT up to 153 km/h.

The gearbox featured a ‘remote’ change with standard Cortina ratios. A heavy-duty clutch was used, and a larger diameter driveshaft. The braking combination was 241mm discs front discs and 229mm x 45mm drums rear drums. Wheels were steel pressings, with 4″ rims wrapped in 5.60 – 13″ crossply rubber. Radial tyres were not available.