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Allan Moffat... The Master... 1975

Allan Moffat has a reputation for being a driver to whom winning means everything - and winning is something he didn't do a lot of in '75. But he drove so well in what was usually not the fastest machinery that his shortage of wins did absolutely no harm to his reputation.
ALLAN GEORGE MOFFAT has a love-hate relationship going with Australian motor racing spectators they either love him or hate him.

One of the first fully professional racing drivers in Australia, he has also been the most controversial of the last 15 years. Moffat has always been controversial because he says what he thinks, doesn't tolerate fools gladly, makes no bones about being in the business for the biggest possible amounts of money, and because on the track he gives no quarter and asks for none. He has been involved in panel-beating punch-ups on the track with most of the great names of Australian sedan racing - Ian Geoghegan, Bob Jane, John Harvey, Norm Beechey and even quiet Colin Bond. His much-raced and for a while unbeatable Trans-Am Mustang rarely finished a race meeting without bent panels in a few places.

In America, where once he washed cars and did odd-jobs and errands just to hang around the fringe of a race team, he is now regarded as one of the two or three best sedan drivers in the world. But in Australia one spectator will tell you he's the best in the world, while the guy next to him will tell you Moffat is a mug who couldn't drive out of sight on a dark night.
Allan George Moffat is a racing driver - a very good one. He is intense before, after, and especially during a race. He has only recently made any attempt to disguise the absolutely animal ambition, which at times forms an almost visible force-field around the sheik-like tent from which he operates at race meetings.

Moffat is involved in motor racing for many reasons. Perhaps the most important to him, since he married, is to create a rock-firm foundation based on his name and goodwill, from which he can build a business - one not necessarily dependant on Sunday successes.

It is not enough to be a good driver.
Moffat realises this. His main rivals already have businesses - Jane, Geoghegan - both could exist without motor racing... although neither, obviously, would choose to do so. Moffat has only one business - himself. He prepares proposals, looks after the sponsors, does them proud. He also prepares a racing car. For this purpose he employs two full-time mechanics.

As a self-promotions man, Moffat has been unquestionably successful. He has signed contracts with powerful companies - Ford, Coca-Cola, Goodyear and BP. Later, when his name was well known he formed "associations" with smaller firms - Bars Leaks and Wilkinson Sword. None of his major sponsorships came without considerable effort:

"When I first approached Coke, there was a major Melbourne-based touring car driver already beating on the door," he says.
"He told them I was a fly-by-night . . . that I'd take their money and run . . . that after all, I was a foreigner and he was an Australian with an already established following.
"Well, I won the contract on the basis of what I could achieve. Coke told me it only understood wins - it didn't want a loser.

"The initial contract, back in 1969, was short-term to say the least. I had to convince them wins aren't the be-all and end-all. .. that you can accomplish quite a lot by losing in the right way. . . by making a race of it."
It's a philosophy which almost seems to stick in his throat. An ambitious man, Moffat does not lose easily. He never did like losing, even when it all started back in 1961. His father, a top executive with the Massey-Ferguson corporation, was transferred to Melbourne from the family's homeland Canada. Moffat, 21, and somewhat bright-eyed and innocent, brought a TR3 and contested about 20 local race meetings. When he first began his Mustang promotion, he used to carry Press releases detailing his stepping stones to success. Today, with next year his prime concern, he's hard pressed to find a record sheet of his early wins. He does, however, remember: "The TR3 was the fastest TR in Victoria."

On paper, the early part of Moffat's racing career reads like something out of a pre-1940 Zanuck movie - the poor-little-rich-boy ... educated in Canada, South Africa and Australia... uprooted from country to country following a father on the way up the executive ladder.
When his family went back to Canada Allan followed. His decision to drop out of university and follow team Lotus through the States - initially as a completely unpaid tyre-blackener and coffee boy - are all parts of the movie script analogy. Certainly, his father's grudging agreement to pay the major share of the purchase price of the ex-team Lotus Cortina for Allan to campaign in the States completed a plot which even today would turn many not so fortunate but nonetheless talented racing hopefuls somewhat green.

"When the Team Lotus saloon car equipe disbanded in the States I was offered first option on one of the cars dirt cheap," he says.
"I went home to Toronto and hit Dad real hard. Obviously there was parental opposition, but I came away with $4500 - to some people a million, but in my father's position not all that much."

Allan took a first-up class win at Mosport. "When my father saw my name in the paper he figured it couldn't be all that bad." Twenty-eight days after buying the Cortina Moffat brought it to Australia. At that stage Jaguars, Holdens, Minis and the odd push-rod Cortina were dominating touring racing. It would be fair to assume the twin-earn Lotus could have made a substantial attack on line honors.

Moffat's PR line is that Australian racing represented a large challenge to him. Granted. But with the right car, he admits, even with his then-limited experience, he could have leapt to immediate prominence - something near impossible in the US. But it was not to be. .
"Beechey had just appeared on the scene with the first Mustang. Everyone else was thinking V8. It was just my tough bananas," he says. He plugged on for half a year. The car spent as much time on two wheels as four, and Moffat won a reputation (he claims undeserved) as a wild man.
"Australians had never seen a guy try that hard. Remember my future life-style was at stake. I was going as hard as I could. But to no avail.

"I didn't know what it was to promote myself. And no-one was going to teach me."
No-one could. At the time advertising was not permitted on cars. Moffat may have considered himself a promotional virgin, but he wasn't the only one in the telephone box. He had one signed contract and was receiving appearance money. And that's about all anyone could expect in Australia at that stage.

Disillusioned with Australia, he returned to the US in 1966 to see if it was any easier there. But in less than two years he was back in Australia with a promise of Ford help and understanding and a sensational new car - the Trans-Am Mustang. He worked with the Bob Jane organisation for a time, even having a tryout in the Jane open-wheeler, only to damage it badly in a Sandown crash when a tyre deflated.

He decided to attack the sport on a professional basis, and went out selling himself as a promotional package that would bring results. The only problem was that the Mustang was unreliable and expensive for the first few months.
Finally he got it all together. He became Ford's No.1 driver, and won the Hardie-Ferodo 500 two years running in the unforgettable GTHO Falcon. When Ford withdrew from active motor sport participation Moffat had to go it alone again, but by that time he had organised himself as a business venture and picked up good sponsor contracts with people like Brut and later Victa.

He replaced the Mustang with the super-fast, super-handling Cologne Capri for the 1975 season, but had a disappointing run in Australia over 1974-75. His two private attempts on Bathurst in those years, with much-publicised and highly-expensive Falcon Superbirds, both ended in failure. However, he has gone from success to success in endurance races in the US and in South-East Asia.
Actively supported and helped by his attractive wife Pauline, the Moffat racing organisation is still in there trucking - throwing everything it has into producing results for its sponsors. Moffat will race anywhere in Australia if the money's good enough. But he's not all that popular with racing officialdom, probably because he's quite outspoken on things that upset him - like poor prizemoney, amateur officials, "stupid" rules on modifying Hardie-Ferodo cars, lack of attention to safety factors, and so on.
Controversial or not, Moffat has contributed enormously to Australian racing. He is a crowd-puller par excellence, an unexcelled headlinegetter, and a firm believer in giving value for money to sponsors who invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the sport.

The Monza wins first time out. Moffat beat Pete Geoghegan's Monaro sports sedan twice in a couple of match races at Amaroo Park. A t that stage there was still plenty of development in the car.

  

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