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Ford’s early aerodynamic advantage

Ford may have an aerodynamic disadvantage now, but it was the other way around during the early 1990s when the Group 3A formula was in its infancy.

Both the new Holden VP Commodore and Ford EB Falcon debuted at the Sandown 500 in September 1992 in what was a deemed a successful outing, which continued at Bathurst and the Adelaide Grand Prix.

However, as the Adelaide Grand Prix support races approached it was Ford enjoying the upper hand in the aerodynamic stakes after completing a revision to its package.

This was noticed by the Holden Racing Team’s engineer Wally Storey, who takes up the tale.

“By September the bodywork samples had to be lodged with CAMS, also all the suspension pick up points had to be homologated,” Storey began.

“I protested the Fords at the Grand Prix in 1992 because the pick up points weren’t the same on either Falcon (the Glenn Seton and Dick Johnson Falcons) and also the bodywork wasn’t the same so obviously it hadn’t provided samples to CAMS or it wasn’t being scrutineered.

“The Falcon wing that was run at Sandown wasn’t the same as what was being run at the Grand Prix. The rule was you had to carry the homologation papers and I got in the habit of carrying ones for the other manufacturers as well so when the Falcon ran at Sandown I went looking for the papers after that event. The used to cost around $200, but CAMS wouldn’t supply the papers and at the Grand Prix I found out there weren’t any yet.

“I said, ‘how has this car done two meetings without any homologation papers?’”

With this knowledge, Storey went about collecting evidence as he proceeded to have an argument of Dick Johnson before taking his findings to the stewards.

“I gathered heaps of photos of the Falcon showing the lack of rear undertray, wing shape, mounts etc.,” Storey recalled.

“At the Grand Prix Dick’s thing had totally different wing mounts, wing, a rear bumper bar that filled in underneath and all sorts of things.

Holden’s Director of Marketing, Rob McEniry encouraged Storey to lodge the papers leading to a heated meeting also including Clerk of the Course Tim Schenken and Ford’s Peter Gillitzer.

“At the end of the hearing it was posed what I wanted, I responded by requesting three months to do extra aero work, which Ford had done since Sandown,” Storey explained.

“I said that I’d come back before the first round with samples of the aero kit I want to homologate because the front of the Commodore had no undertray and the wing was tiny. There were a lot of things that weren’t complete.

“I wasn’t happy with the bodywork, it was done by TWR in England. A car was put in the MIRA wing tunnel but TWR didn’t maximise it by any stretch. I’d sent TWR a wing that I had got from Malcolm Oastler, a wing profile and I’d actually made a version.

“I have a video of testing this thing down the South-Eastern Freeway and we took it to Phillip Island to run. It was in three parts because the air comes at the wing at a different angle compared to the ends because comes over the roof in the middle, but comes around the sides of the cars at the ends. “This wing was adjustable on the ends separate to the centre. The whole thing was adjustable, just the ends were separately. You could run more angle in the centre then the sides.

“I sent that wing over and this tiny little toy thing came back. There was no undertray, but there was a wide variety of gurneys.

“The designers that ended up doing the job were the styling department because that was the department at TWR that needed the work and when it came back, I was politically stuck with it.”

Schenken prevented this resolution due to supply chain problems for the other Holden teams, but Larry Perkins designed and ran his own improved version later on.

“Larry ended up fronting with a front bar with undertray and a much better wing with a gurney on it,” Storey recalled. “There was a lot fuss that went on, but he was allowed to keep it.”