Our second drivers’ profile introduces Historic Group N Association of NSW Vice President John Battersby. Take a few minutes, and enjoy his story.
My interest in motor sport came about during the mid-sixties, when I was an apprentice carpenter. During our meal breaks at the work site, we would talk about whose car was faster, the hotted-up Humpy Holden, the new Falcon, Minis etc.
I bought and picked up my first new car, a Morris Mini Deluxe, the day I came out of my apprenticeship in January 1966. My mate at the time had received his own Mini Deluxe the previous December, so the competition had started. We played around with the Minis, making them faster and, we thought, to handle slightly better (remove the suspension fluid). At least they looked good lowered.
We joined the St. George Port Hacking Car club and enjoyed the events provided by this club, running in rallies, hill climbs and doing short circuit racing at Amaroo Park and gymkhanas at Menai.
The club has a bit to answer for - a young, good looking blonde-haired girl who owned a Mini Cooper spoke to me at one of the meetings, and after fifty-odd years of wonderful marriage, the rest is history.
This partnership slowed my activity in motor sport, but did not dampen our love of the Mini, and we had a number of Minis through our time. I contracted cancer in the ‘90s and after the recovery, I decided to focus on a bit more of a lifestyle which included my reconnection with activity in motorsport.
This led me to purchasing a partly-completed Mini, which had been used for race activities by its previous owner. The car was taking too long to come together and searching for a completed race car was also a problem – we couldn’t find one.
We decided to attend the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne, and took an excursion from Albert Park to Northern Mini Parts for a meeting with Henry Draper. At the meeting, Henry gave me an advertisement for a Mini for sale in Tasmania. I phoned the number and Peter Kellick answered the phone. He was also at the GP, but the car was in Tassie.
We made arrangements, picked the car up from the docks in Melbourne a couple of weeks later and were on our way. I raced at a number of meetings in NSW at Oran Park, Eastern Creek and Wakefield Park. I then decided to travel to Victoria for meetings at Sandown, Winton and Phillip Island.
I have raced a number of times at the iconic track Bathurst. I’m not biased at all, but this is the greatest race track in Australia. I have also raced in Queensland, at Lakeside and Morgan Park.
My son Paul worked on our race car, coming to meetings and helping me repair, alter and tune the car, spectating the events and witnessing my, and my fellow competitors’, passion for motorsport. He also has the bug and now races Minis.
I have been involved with Group N since the early 2000s. I thoroughly enjoy the mateship and friendship within our club and with competitors from the other states, and value the help we give to each other when needed.
We have a very sociable attitude, and that’s why I belong to the Historic Group N Association of NSW.