This is how it all began – as told by Mike Killingsworth in his own words.
Two years ago our son James gave me a copy of the book written about the re-enactment of the original Peking to Paris race that was shown in Australia on ABC television. I read it with interest and then put it aside. A month or two later James wrote to me from Singapore advising me of a company in the UK that had run two previous P-P rallies and was planning a third in 2013. He suggested we enter! I mentioned this to my darling wife and typically she said “you cannot not go! what an opportunity to do something like this with your son”.
And so the planning started. The company running the event, the Endurance Rally Association, were most helpful and gave us tons of advice. We looked for a car and decided on an EH Holden for a number of reasons, not the least being it is an Australian icon and we could paint it in Neptune Racing Team colours just like our NRT Mustang.
Not long after we purchased the EH the enormity of the project hit me, especially the car preparation. Despite the promise of help from a good friend who is an excellent mechanic, I was daunted by the preparation required to get the car to a satisfactory standard.
Casting around for a solution I happened on an FX Holden that had actually completed the rally in 2010, winning its class and finishing fourth overall despite a badly damaged engine. A quick trip to Sydney and the car was purchased. Shipped to our shed in Ocean Grove to start work, removing the engine and going over the rest of the car.
About this time my mechanic friend mentioned he knew of a garage in Clayton where P-P cars were being prepared. We contacted Ras Hansen and he kindly came down to Ocean Grove one evening to assess our project. Having looked at both cars his determination was that the EH was the better car. Both cars would require significant work to ensure completion of the rally, a difficult drive from Beijing across the Gobi Desert, through outer Mongolia, Siberia and the rest of Russia and into Europe. 12,247 km overall. Further the EH was a stronger car to begin with and, to James’ delight, we would be competing in “our” car rather than somebody else’s.
My mechanic friend Dave Malkin set about getting the car a RWC so we could have it registered and then stripped it to a bare rolling shell to be transported to the Vintage and Classic Garage in Clayton.
Ras Hansen has proven to be the ultimate “find”. A seriously competent engineer, he and his assistant Ryan have done all the structural work on the car which has included a new HR Holden ball joint front end with disc brakes, full roll cage stretching between the front and rear suspension, 110 litre fuel tank fitted inside the boot and a myriad of other modifications all within the rules of the rally. I am hoping to be able to say that we have the best prepared car in the rally though some I saw recently in the UK were very good!
Additionally we have been very lucky to secure the services of Erik, Clint and Cooper at Peninsula Collision Repairs for all the body work and a magnificent paint job as well as Ben Connelly from Torquay for a fully balanced “179″ to go in front of the Aussie 4 Speed gearbox. Numerous other businesses in Geelong have been helpful as well.
In January this year the car was basically completed to a driveable condition. James was able to come down from Singapore for a week to oversee the final stages. Ben Connelly wanted the engine run in on a “dyno” and this we did. Having completed that to Ben’s satisfaction we trailered the car back to our shed where Dave and Ras spent a whole Saturday ensuring that every single part and system was up to standard. Having done that, they then test drove the car before allowing James and I to drive it.
The next day was a Sunday and James had to return to Singapore on the Monday so he and I took a long, 350, km trip to Colac, Ballarat and home. I called Ras that night with a list of defects – “bugs on the windscreen” was the only one. A credit to all who had helped with the car.
The car is due to ship in mid to late March so now the concentration is on getting kilometres on it (2500 to date) and finishing off all the little things that make the difference. Time will tell.
To see a slide show of the cars development click HERE.