Why is it Calder Fox?

October 31, 2017

Chinese restaurant, George Street, Bathurst, celebrating Peter Brock and Jim Richards winning the
1978 Hardie-Ferodo 1000.

I've been asked to explain the little red fox at the top of the pages here (and at the top of the windscreen of my car). Here is the story.

In 1976, members of the Sydney University Car Club went to Adelaide to compete as a team in the Intervarsity Challenge against teams from other university car clubs. These events consisted of a short forest rally, a motorkhana and a bitumen event. In Adelaide the bitumen was at Adelaide International Raceway. (Unfortunately, no photos survived of Virginia Bowditch putting our Renault 12 up onto two wheels going over the lip onto the banked oval. This photo is as near as anyone got.)

Inside wheels just touching the road.
Photo taken from too far away through a flyscreen on colour film,
cropped from a colour print which had been exposed to light and gone orange.
(Kids with the latest iPhones don't believe what photography used to be like.)

In 1977 the Challenge was run out of Melbourne and it was planned to use Calder Park for the tarmac part. (This was changed at the last minute to Winton. Drivers of today's Supercars must be very grateful that the track is now at least twice as wide.) 1978's Challenge was run by Sydney UCC with the tarmac being a hill climb at Mount Panorama in Bathurst. (One fond memory of that weekend is the amazement shown by the interstate visitors at the locals' ability to remove the tops from beer bottles using only our bare hands. Twist-tops had just been introduced into NSW but nowhere else. We finally had to admit to what was going on, but not until they all had been suitably impressed.)

At one of the club's Pub Nights in 1977 (these were publication nights for the club's magazine, but we liked the abbreviation) someone suggested that we needed team t-shirts for Intervarsity and at the time we thought that Calder would be used. Frank Topham was studying chemical engineering at the time and had come across a device called the Calder-Fox Scrubber, used for cleaning gases. He sketched out the stylised fox, complete with little brushes giving it a clean and shine. (Some smartarse asked the question on the shirts in the photo.) Resident handyman Greg Ford made a metal template of the fox (without the brushes) and subsequent Pub Nights saw people making stickers for their cars out of orange day-glo contact film for application to windscreens. And the rest is history.

I found my old helmet in the shed. It was next to that box with all the cables and chargers.

[Thank you to Virginia Bowditch and Alan Pentecost for filling in the blanks in my memory.]

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