Experienced Gold Coast rally driver and former Victorian, Denis Baker, will enter the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial in the third Repco Commodore from the 15 built by General Motors Holden  for the 1979 Repco Round Australia Trial.

In fact Baker’s Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial entry, with co-driver, David McAdam under the Pedders Suspension banner, is the only Repco Commodore having a pedigree of continuous competition since 1979.  Included in it’s competition pedigree is the 1995 Mobil 1 Round Australia Trial - 19,000km (21st outright Baker/Bashford), the 1986 S.A. State Bank Discovery Trial – 10,000km (Kilfoyle/Baker - finished), several Alpine Rally events, several BP Rally events (most recent 2008 event, seventh outright Baker/McAdam), Historic ARC and many state based trials and rallies.

“The only two other Repco Commodore rally cars remaining from the 15 built by GMH are the Brock Repco winning HDT car housed at the Holden Performance Driving Centre museum on the Gold Coast, and the recently found Barry Ferguson second outright HDT car that will also be entered in the Red Centre to Gold  Coast Trial,” Baker said.

“The third of the three HDT Repco winning Commodores was owned by Victorian David Jones, and was written off after several roll overs during its drive to second outright in the 1986 S.A. State Bank Discovery Trial. All other Repco Commodores were converted to parts or configured as later models during the mid 1980’s and no longer exist.

“Having competed in and successfully finished 43rd outright in the 1979 REPCO Trial myself, I continually searched for an ex-REPCO Commodore,” Baker continued. “In  early 1981, our Repco Commodore (the Bega Holden Dealer entry in that event) was configured to comply with the then international Group ‘A’ CAMS rally regulations by removing the GMH/HDT built XU-1 motor and fitted with the then-current single carburettor ‘Blue’ motor and grille for competition in several ARC’s and NSW state events for the next 2 years.

“I purchased the Repco Commodore several years later as it had become a daily driver, still with full Repco rally gear including suspension, brakes, sump guard and long range tank, plus a heap of spares. In 1984/85, I competed in several Victorian club and State events in preparation for the 10,000km 1986 S.A. State Bank Discovery Trial, where I contracted Frank Kilfoyle to drive for me in our Werribee based Westwood Real Estate rally team.

“After the 5000km half way mark at Alice Springs we were lying fourth outright, only to break the steering along the old Ghan track and be left without rescue for a night and day. Frank Kilfoyle and I eventually got going again and drove across S.A. to catch up to the field and finished the last 2000km in flying form. Frank was extremely impressed with the performance, ride and handling of this car, particularly in the sand of the S.A. outback. ”

The Werribee-based car became well known in the Victorian rally scene, with present co-driver, David McAdam and Denis competing in both Victorian and Western Regions Trial Championships with solid success. In fact, the Baker family used the Repco Commodore as a daily driver as well as in between events to help promote their long term sponsors, Westwood Real Estate, Werribee Wheel Aligners, Ballan Holden and Goodyear Tyres. However, there was always the hope that another “Round Australia” would happen again and the team could use the Repco Commodore in what it was really designed to do; travel fast and safely across the outback of Australia.

In 1993, Targa Tasmania was added to the car’s pedigree with a Targa plate, 77th outright and 20th in Handicap. The Repco Commodore, under Denis’ stewardship, showed a clean set of heels to many more fancied crews in this field of 260 vehicles.

Denis continues the story. “In early 1994 Bob Watson announced the forthcoming 19,000km June 1995 Mobil 1 Round Australia Trial and there was no hesitation to enter the Werribee-based Repco Commodore. Once you compete in these long distance events, there is no other type to meet the satisfaction and sheer achievement of finishing and keeping a car going for 10 to 20,000km. A year’s preparation, strong local and national support ended when my co-driver (cousin Gerry Bashford) and I finished 21st outright in this, what is considered the last of the true Round Australia Trials.

“Our Repco Commodore came through with little damage and continued to clock up another ribbon on the pedigree of true Australian long distance rally/trial cars. David McAdam also competed and successfully finished the Round Australia Trial, thus adding to his extensive motoring experience.”

A move to the Gold Coast in 1997 meant a change of rego plates, but daily driving and regular competition continued. Present co-driver, David McAdam, brought the Repco Commodore back to Victoria for a major re-build in 2005/06. David and Denis have been competing and testing in the car in selected challenging events such as the Begonia, Alpine and BP Rallies during the past two to three years. David and Denis, plus their long time Werribee sponsors of Bob Westwood and David Brown, now jointly own the Repco Commodore, ensuring its history is intact and capabilities are demonstrated.

The old team, with service crew Bob Westwood and David Brown, will be together again for the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial in September and have secured the sponsorship of Pedders Suspension, Penrite Lubricants, Westwood First National Real Estate and Best Western Werribee Park Motel.

“Both Denis and I like to think that we helped Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial director, Bob Watson, along with others, make the decision to organise another great long distance Australian event to continue the tradition,” McAdam adds. “Bob Watson has been a tireless organiser and competitor in historic rallying. He was the director of the highly successful 1995 Round Australia Trial and still finds time to compete in the sport that we all love and enjoy.

“After our seventh outright placing in the recent BP Ultimate Rally, we are aiming for a top ten finish, if not better, in the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial.”

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