“Gentleman Jim’ Richards proved a hit on and off the track on the opening day of the Legends of Bathurst festival at Hampton Downs.
The seven-time winner of the Bathurst 1000 finished 3rd in the Archibalds Historic Touring Car category and met hundreds of the large crowd that turned up to meet some of the greats of Australian and New Zealand motorsport.
“The guys you’ve got here, the likes of Allan Moffat, Fred Gibson and John Goss, they don’t go to a lot of events like this,” says Richards. “It’s a real coup to get all of us here for the weekend. I think everyone has enjoyed the day and it’s been a lot of fun. The atmosphere is just great and I’ve met so many people who’ve shared some of their Bathurst memories with me.”
Richards’ car, the black and gold JPS BMW 635 Group A, was one of the standouts on the grid while ‘Gentleman Jim’ who is a fit looking 70-year-old, looked remarkably fresh after his drive to a third-place finish behind Charlie O’Brien and Graeme Cameron in Race 1 of the Archibalds Historic Touring Cars category.
“He doesn’t do any training or exercise or anything,” said his son Steve who finished 6th after starting at the back of the grid. “Maybe I’m doing the wrong thing!”
John Bowe found the going a little tougher in a 1986 Volvo 240T, but still managed to bring it home in 5th place.
“It’s quite hard work to drive,” says Bowe. “It’s got no power steering, the shock absorbers are 1980s style and it just about shakes the fillings out of your teeth. Cars have come a long way in 30 years. In saying that, there are some great cars here, some great drivers and it’s just a great track to drive.”
In other categories, Garry Carter took the chequered flag in the Legends of Bathurst Invitational, ahead of Warwick Mortimer; Malcolm Auster led home Martin Lucas in the Historic Formula Fords; John Midgley and Hugh Gardiner won the two ENZED Central Muscle Cars races and Alan Barker won the Matos Formula Libre and NZ Sportscars category.
Off the track, hundreds of fans lined up in the Hampton Downs Pavilion for a lunchtime signing session with Hampton Downs Legends of Bathurst — Jim Richards, John Bowe, Steve Richards, Allan Moffat, Fred Gibson, John Goss and Paul Radisich — that had to be extended to an hour to cope with the crowd.
There’s another opportunity to meet the Legends at Hampton Downs tomorrow with a signing session from 12.35 to 12.55. Gates open at 8am and there’s a full day of racing scheduled from 8.30am.