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Face to Face with Carol Smith
Chequered Flag January 1978

In describing Carol Smiths' year in Australia (1977), it is difficult to refrain from using that well-known snippet of literature HE CAME. . . HE SAW . .. HE CONQUERED.
When Carol Smith flew into Australia - from his native Los Angeles to manage the newly formed Moffat Ford Dealers Team, few knew much about this middle aged family man who was taking up one

of our biggest motor racing challenges. Even now after his return to the States we still only know the man as the one who guided the most successful touring car team in the history of Australian Motor Racing.
In just one season they took out the Touring Car Championship, (first and second) again came home one-two in Australia's premier race, the Hardie-Ferodo 1000, and were the main contributors to Ford's Manchamp success.
A mechanical engineer by trade, Carol Smith's ambition was to become a racing car driver.
In 1960 his main objective was to race full time and with literally no money in the States, he went to Europe and raced quite successfully, until mid 1965. But there wasn't enough success to keep him afloat financially so he returned to the States with no real plans. But he didn't need any, thanks to Carol Shelby.

Chequered Flag:
Is that when it all started?
Carol Smith:
Yes. Shelby, pulled me off a bus in Philadelphia to be Chief Engineer/Project Engineer (it was a small team!) on the Ford GT40's in the Le Mans programme.

Chequered Flag:
What was your next move?
Carol Smith:
To stay in motorsport I left Shelby in '69 when they pulled out of racing and set up Carol Smith Consulting which was a year-to-year proposition.

Chequered Flag:
What was your objective?
Carol Smith:
I wanted to find good young drivers and give them a chance to make it. That is what I derive the most pleasure from.

Chequered Flag:
Who did you handle during that time! .
Carol Smith:
Weeelll Revson, Posey and Danny Ongais (who has just joined FI ranks) are three that I handled. During this time I did the odd long distance race for Ferrari.

Chequered Flag:
Why did you come to work for Moffat?
Carol Smith:
I had known Allan for many years and then someone sent him my book. That's when he contacted me and asked me if I would run the Team. Previously I had been here with Matich and I also thought it would be good for my family.

Chequered Flag:
What is your opinion of Matich and why didn't that venture achieve greater international success?
Carol Smith:
Matich was one of the best drivers I ever worked with. The Matich car was superb, the Repco engine programme was excellent and the engineering standard was superb - it was all good enough to ensure international success but we had a people problem, a conflict of interests that I could not overcome and that ultimately led to the disbandonment of the team.

Chequered Flag:
What is your opinion of F5000 racing in Australia?
Carol Smith:
I think that Australia is too small to support F5000 and will have to go to Formula Atlantic eventually.

Chequered Flag:
Don't you feel Australians will become more aware of the finer points of this class and go away from Sedans.
Carol Smith:
Well support for open wheelers was at its peak in the '60's when top internationals came out for the Tasman but even that is defunct now. Touring car racing is so popular because it has the support of the two big manufacturers and this sort of support is vital to the success of any class. Only the cigarette companies can afford to support cars to the same extent.

Chequered Flag:
What has been your biggest contribution to the team?
Carol Smith: Confidence. I have given the drivers confidence in their cars. Confidence in the fact that any problems they have with the cars will be fixed regardless. The car is just a tool and it determines the end quality of the job, like in any other trade. The cars I prepare can always race at qualifying speed - unlike some of our competitors'.

Chequered Flag:
What was the biggest problem when you arrived?
Carol Smith:
It was time. I walked into an empty workshop and had to prepare two cars that wouldn't break and would handle. I also had to get a crew together. The ones I selected were young and had never seen a motor race. They're now the best team I've ever worked with.
Fortunately I didn't have to worry about the drivers - they're the best two in the country.

Chequered Flag:
Moffat is reported to be a very difficult person to deal with, how did you handle him?
Carol Smith:
We occasionally had a "frank discussion" from which neither of us would back down. But generally things went very, very smoothly - I ignored his temper tantrums and he ignored my slow plodding.

Chequered Flag:
Has the team had good support from the Factory?
Carol Smith:
We have had fantastic support from Ford Engineering in Geelong and I'll miss that when I go back home. It's ten times better than any factory support I have had before.

Chequered Flag:
Was Bond under instructions to block the competition while Moffat went on to win?
Carol Smith:
The drivers had identical cars and first into the first corner was the number one driver. We never planned on Moffat winning so many.

Chequered Flag:
The team has had a great year has it meant financial security for Moffat?
Carol Smith:
We never discuss money but I think Moffat would spend the money on making his car more competitive rather than putting it in the bank. He would certainly be earning a lot more overseas.

Chequered Flag:
Do you think Moffat has the ability to compete successfully overseas?
Carol Smith:
Yes. I don't know why he doesn't.

Chequered Flag:
Do you think our touring car racing is of world standard?
Carol Smith:
Australia's touring car racing could well be leading the world - it's the only place where Ford & G.M. are in direct competition.

Chequered Flag:
If you like Australia so much and you are so successful why are you going home?
Carol Smith:
My wife, who has a Doctorate, could only get a 12 month leave of absence from lecturing so we'll go back and I'll run someone else's team. I've had several offers but I won't make up my mind until I get home. I don't really mind where I am as long as it's with racing people. It's the men that make racing.

Chequered Flag:
Who will replace you on the team?
Carol Smith:
We haven't discussed that, I don't know.

Chequered Flag:
Will the Team be as successful next year without your guidance?
Carol Smith:
It really depends on the budget. We have done all the easy things, there is more to come but it is very expensive development. The Falcons are much easier to drive than the Torana's and they have that in their favour.

But for Smith the challenge is over and it's been a success. Now it's back to the States and another race team. For Australian motor racing his professionalism, and attitude to the sport is an unfortunate loss.

    

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