Ford XB Falcon GS panel van
Driven by Wayne Haw, Allan Fielding and Jeff Haire
Wayne Haw, Allan Fielding and Jeff Haire were all mates that went to trade school together. They had no concerns about entering the race. As Allan says, "we were young and full of bravado!"
Allan had several years of circuit racing experience.
The team drove Wayne's Ford XB Falcon GS panel van. It was a 302 ci V8 with automatic transmission.
For the race the team fitted a second Ford fuel tank under the floor with a splitter in the fuel filler pipe to fill both tanks. In the rear they also added a 64 litre tank out of a Nissan G60 Patrol and another 50 litre tank, possibly from a Datsun 200B. This gave a total fuel capacity of 274 litres!
The two rear tanks were fitted right up against the back of the front bench seat with a brass switch mounted behind the driver, and also a fuel filter. The rear tanks were filled through the rear doors.
A bucket seat from a Datsun 200B was fitted in the rear, complete with seat belt, and like most teams, they had added a bull bar.
To avoid unnecessary stops, a hole was drilled in the rear floor and fitted with a funnel to allow for urinating, and cruise control was fitted which allowed the team to change drivers on the move.
The team drew the tenth starting position, and departed late in the afternoon having been notified of the starting location only an hour or two beforehand.
They opted to take back roads from the start instead of the Calder Highway to Mildura, Victoria. After travelling at very fast speeds along the back roads they re-entered the Calder Highway near Ouyen right behind a long line of cars travelling at the speed limit. They went about passing one car after another until they realised that the other cars were also part of the Cannonball. They asked on 2-way radio why everyone was driving at the speed limit and were told because the car in front was a police car!
They team had a two hour driving stint rule. Unless they were stopping for fuel they could change drivers without stopping. The front seat passenger would climb into the rear, the driver would slide across to the passenger side while still steering, and the rear seat passenger would climb over behind the wheel and take control. At the two checkpoints, only the driver would get it out to save time. During the race they ate sandwiches they had packed, and the rear passenger could sleep.
At Merbein, Victoria, they stopped at a railway level crossing as the lights were flashing. Out of nowhere a police car pulled up beside them, and they both sat there for over five minutes and no train came or went.
Allan recalls that they were pulled over by police for a check somewhere, possibly in Berri, South Australia. The police looked in the back but the extra fuel tanks were covered with blankets and bags, so they must have just thought that they looked like three young blokes on holiday.
Their first fuel stop was at Port Augusta, South Australia, around 1,000 km from the start.
At Port Augusta, the police had set up a road block on a bridge. Allan was driving at the time and said to his team mates that he would just drive through slowly and wave, and that he was only going to stop if they stepped in front of the car. So they crawled through the road block. The police looked at them, and Allan smiled and waved and kept driving. He thinks they may have been the only team not to have been pulled over and checked there.
They stopped for fuel near the Western Australian border at Eucla, and Allan got behind the wheel again. As he crossed the border and drove down the escarpment he was pulled over by police. He received a fine for travelling at 130 km/h in a 100 km/h speed limit zone, and was sent on his way with a warning. Allan says they were lucky as they had been travelling a lot faster and he was only just getting back into the swing of driving after a four hour rest.
That was the last police they saw.
Their third fuel stop was at Esperance, close to 900 km from the finish. On that final leg of the race they were all pretty tired, and at one stage the driver at the time came to a sudden stop in the middle of nowhere. The others asked why he stopped, and he said he was just letting the passengers off the tram and then they would be on their way! He was immediately hauled out of the driver's seat and they changed drivers every half-hour after that.
They stopped again somewhere between Esperance and Perth to top up one tank which ultimately they did not need. While stopped, two or three teams passed them.
Early on the Sunday morning they arrived at the finish. Their final time was around 34.5 hours, putting them in ninth place overall.
Allan wasn't sure what speed they were able to cruise at during the race, as the van's speedometer wasn't accurate, and that they had set a rev limit. However, when crossing the Nullarbor on the trip back home, they worked out from the mile post markers that they had travelled 160km in one hour, and had been using considerably less revs than they had during the race. Based on this Allan suggests that they cruised much more than 160 km/h during the race.
The van was reliable and trouble-free during the race but they did hit a few kangaroos and finished the event with only one headlight.
Allan says that the whole experience was a highlight and they were no consequences as a result of competing.
The car's current whereabouts is unknown, but it is possibly still in the Kyneton, Victoria, area.