The Experts Trial was held on June 29. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:
VRC Round 4 – 1974 LCCA National Experts Trial
The past couple of Experts had been conducted in mid winter where the norm was rain, plenty of mud and cars getting bogged. Coupled with very difficult navigation, including drop-off route charts and unmapped tracks, it made the Experts the most challenging and most difficult event on the Victorian Rally calendar.
This 1974 event was to be different, although Directors Fritz Suenderman and Mike Mitchell were still running through the typical Heathcote and Whroo forests with tight and demanding navigation. But the winter had been much drier this year, so mud and swollen creeks were not really an issue. And with better maps becoming available the navigation became more straight forward but nevertheless was far more intense and challenging with hundreds of grid references.
With Mike Mitchell on the Directing Team, Ian Richards took over the navigator’s role with “Wild” Bill Evans. His experience with the wild man of rallying was certainly colourful; Bill’s rally car was a big-engined Datsun 120Y, with bulk horsepower. They managed a creditable fourth outright.
The Experts started at the Victoria Markets in Melbourne, and the 40 crews headed to the start proper at Goulburn Weir near Nagambie. The action began instantly, with a bunch of crews missing a via on a realignment within minutes from the start control. Crews then headed west, towards the dreaded Whroo forest. Navigation was challenging during the slippery dash to the first service, with just a few crews under double figures, including the eventual top placegetters.
Heavy rain began to fall as the field headed out of the forest towards Toolleen where the Golf Club turned on a meal break. John Coleman / Bernie Peasley led from Bob Bird / Warwick Smith, Bob Watson / Jeff Beaumont, Ted Anderson / Tony Wunderlich, Pierre Dalle / Ian Baldock ( 504 ) and Bill Evans / Ian Richards.
The second Division headed into the Redcastle area, with six wet, rough sections towards Greytown, with some considerable points losses, and plenty of drama. The leaders, Coleman and Peasley became bogged, handing the lead to Bird / Smith, who then lost their clutch and retired. Watson / Beaumont inherited the lead, but lost it immediately when the XU-1’s gearshift jammed in reverse, losing 15 minutes in the process. Amazingly John Coleman and Bernard Peasley regained the lead, with a well deserved victory in their Sharp sponsored Torana.
Whilst the VRC points leaders, Harrowfield and Boyd had a difficult night, they still retained their comfortable points lead in the series.