A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


Morris Major 1500 Series I

Driving on the open road

1964 Morris Major, Trip to Seymour Victoria

Best drive in the Major, Seymour Victoria. Donald, Jacqui, seven-month-old Leigh and I dove the Major to visit Jacqui’s sister Jenny her husband Wayne and daughter Vivian.   January 1964.

The drive gave me the great opportunity to gain country-driving experience, lessons in driving at speed.   Don permitted me to drive some of the way there and back. 

Driving over Friday night the first notable experience of the open road when a Jaguar MkII passed us as if we were standing still, vroom whoosh, the road was long and straight and in a short time its taillights disappeared from view. Open road speed was not limited, most drivers drove at 60 MPH (100KPH). 

Next lesson, overtaking a slower car, speeding up to pass then pulling in and slowing to 60, Don said if you’re going to pass then pass and keep going, it’s not the city, get well clear of the car before adjusting to a comfortable speed.

While staying at Jenny’s, Wayne’s friend invited us to go to Caulder Raceway.  He picked us up in his new EJ Holden Special sedan.  Once underway all too soon I became aware with 3 in the back was not that comfortable in the middle as the seat padding was quite thin and the undulating road I kept bottoming out.  Soon at the track we found a vantage point on the back of a large truck with a group of Seymour local lads. 

The group were well into drinking, passing time between races sending up the other spectators.  The more they drank the more they sent up everyone they could. Notable points of interest the Lads turned their attention toward the accessories or personal highlights displayed on the arriving spectator’s cars.  Wheel colours were the go; White wheels considered to add 5 miles per hour to the car in question, 10 for Black and a cool 20 for Silver.  Bonnet straps a very brave addition and worthy of the best jeers the crowd could muster.  Any car displaying a ‘P plate’ were given the full round from ‘Poser’ to ‘Poonce’ everyone was fair game. All in good humor adding a much-appreciated filler between races.

That day we were to see the introduction of the Neptune Racing team.  Norm Beechey, Peter Manton and Jim McKeown, united under the Neptune Racing Team banner, a team of different makes of cars.  The team first appeared in deep blue liveries at the beginning of 1964, Jim McKeown was the first driver in Australia to race a Lotus Cortina debuted in Neptune colours that day at Caulder Park. 

The three drivers and their machines would prove to be at the forefront of touring car racing all over the country for that season and the next few to follow.

Jim McKeown in the giant-killing Lotus Cortina, Neptune Racing Team leader Norm Beechey, driving the new Holden EH S4 sedan, Peter Manton in Mini Cooper S, at Caulder

The racing was great all day, Norm Beechey driving his beloved XF Holden “Old PK” entertained our group with the best close-up action of the day, rolling right in front of us his Holden several times. 

With that huge applause and a sad lament for “Old PK”,rounding off the best of day of racing.

Photo of Car 45 driven by Munyard pictured rolling very much reminiscent of Norm rolling “Old PK”

The racing, thrills, and spills, the antics of the local lads on the day, were all for the making of a very memorable days outing; best days racing ever.

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