Friday, 22 June 2018


Chance meetings in life often bring pleasant surprises, and so it turns out when a mechanic and his apprentice re-unite after 30 years.

That mechanic was John Singleton, the winner of the 1989 Australian Super Sedan Title, who also finished on the Western Australian Super Sedan Title podium five times in his career along, twice as a runner-up and three times as third place. The apprentice was Brian McDonough, who turned in to a self-professed ‘Mustang Fanatic’ and has a collection of Mustangs to his credit.

Singleton purchased a Mustang from Barry Blake and then raced it in the 1978-79 season in Division 2 and in some Division 1 races (the fore-runner to Super Sedans).

McDonough heard about the Mustang, and then started the arduous task of finding its current whereabouts, if in fact, the car still existed. Singleton finished third to Merv Robinson at Mount Barker Speedway in the 1979 Western Australian Title in the Mustang.

The investigation started and was found that the car was brought from Exmouth by Tony Pernacelli, who had a 6KY radio personality Keith Harris drive the car at the Claremont Showground. After passing through a few other owners, Barry Blake raced the Mustang, before Singleton drove the car. When McDonough heard that Singleton had driven the car, contact was made, and the mechanic and the apprentice from Lynford Motors were re-united.

28 8 2015 Mustang

“Prior to the Mustang I was racing an LJ Torana, so it was a natural progression,” Singleton explained.

“At the end of the 1979 season, Brian Donaldson of Osborne Transmissions approached me by way of a recommendation from Steve Coyle, and asked me, if I was interested in driving for him, in a Corvette he owned.”

So the Mustang moved on, and was then driven by Graham Clark, who happened to be on John Singleton’s pit crew. The era of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sedans raced in front of packed houses, particularly at the Claremont Showground where the car predominantly race. Singleton raced against the likes of Tony Giancola, Ben Ludlow, Bert Vosbergen, Leo Gommers, Phil Myers and Paul deLacey on a weekly basis.

After Clark, the Mustang moved to Les North and then eventually to its final resting place, where after 30 years were found by McDonough.

“The car was an absolute mess,” said McDonough, when the car was found under a tarp.

Being a Mustang collector, it was a must have, and so the transformation started, and with the help of his former Mechanic, the car started to take shape. In a labour of love, the transformation, back to the way it was in 1978, finalised after four long years, with assistance also from Mick Thompson, who became the prime restorer, going on the recollection of Singleton along with some pictures of the car. And what a remarkable likeness Thompson has produced.

For Singleton, he still gets to the speedway regularly.

“I don’t go to as many as I used to,” he admitted.

“I missed my first Australian Super Sedan Title last season for a long time.”

Singleton still has a keen eye for Super Sedan racing.

“It would be good to see how different they are from our era, but also the driving style has changed, a lot to do with the cars being more sophisticated,” he commented.

“I think Darren Kane is probably the best driver on offer at the moment, but he does have access to the ultimate gear. One to watch in the future, if we don’t lose him to another class, is South Australian Ryan Alexander.”

As for the car, it is now a hit. Recently displayed at the famous Gloucester Park, the car was a crowd favourite. The car will be seen at further vintage events in the future, but is a gentle reminder of where Super Sedans came from.

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