The 1961 Armstrong 500 was an endurance motor race for standard production sedans. The event was held at the Phillip Island circuit in Victoria, Australia on 19 November 1961 over 167 laps of the 3.0 mile circuit, a total of 501 miles (807 km). The race was organised by the Light Car Club of Australia and was sponsored by Armstrong York Engineering Pty Ltd.[1]

It was the second event held in the combined history of the Bathurst 1000, which had begun the previous year with the first Armstrong 500. Interest had waned since the previous year with the entry for this year the lowest in the races history until the fields were restricted to V8 Supercars only in 1995.

Geoff Russell and David Anderson backed up their 1960 class victory in their Peugeot 403 by winning their class again. Bob Jane and Harry Firth were the only combination to complete the full race distance, earning the pair the first of their four outright race wins, although the concept of outright race win would not be officially recognised until 1965. Mercedes-Benz, Studebaker and Renault all took their first class wins.

Class structure

Class A

Class A was for cars with an engine capacity over 2600cc. The class featured Ford Customline, Studebaker Lark and Vauxhall Velox.

Class B

Class B was for cars with an engine capacity between 1601cc and 2600cc. The class featured Ford Falcon, Holden EK and Mercedes-Benz 220SE.

Class C

Class C was for cars with an engine capacity of between 1001cc and 1600cc. The class featured Morris Major, Peugeot 403, Simca Montlhery and Volkswagen 1200.[2]

Class D

Class D was for cars with an engine capacity of 1000cc or less. The class featured Ford Anglia, Morris 850, Renault Gordini and Triumph Herald.


Pos.[3] No.[4] Entrant[4] Drivers[3] Car[3] Laps[3]
Class A
1 43 York Motors (Sales) Pty Ltd David McKay
Brian Foley
Studebaker Lark 166
2 41 WF Coad Frank Coad
John Roxburgh
Vauxhall Velox 165
3 44 Canada Cycle & Motor Co (Sales) Pty Ltd Fred Sutherland
Bill Graetz
Studebaker Lark 165
DNF[5] 42 SP Boyd-Squires Peter Boyd-Squires
Peter Will[5]
Ford Customline
Class B
1 32 Autoland Pty Ltd Bob Jane
Harry Firth
Mercedes-Benz 220SE 167
2 35 KJ Harper Ken Harper
Syd Fisher
John Raeburn
Ford Falcon XK[5] 161
Disq[5] 33 Stan Jones Motors Pty Ltd[3] Ian Strachan
John Lanyon
Holden EK[2] 134
Class C
1 24 GLA Russell Geoff Russell
Dave Anderson
Peugeot 403 163
2 26 W Coe Bill Coe
Ron Lilley
Peugeot 403 161
3 22 Ecurie - BJ Auto Service,
Eiffel Tower Group,
Martins Panel Service
Bob Brown
Lionel Marsh
Michael Lempriere
Simca Montlhery 160
4 25 Killara Motor Garage Bob Holden
Ken Brigden
Albert Bridge
Peugeot 403 153
5 21 G Reynolds George Reynolds
Greg Cusack
Volkswagen 152
DNF[5] 27 JP Gray Charlie Smith
Bruce Maher
Tony Osborne
Morris Major 141
DNF[5] 28 EA Clay Eddie Clay
Jack French
Jim Gray
Morris Major 135
Class D
1 3 Monash Service Station Jim Gullan
Brian Sampson
John Connolly
Renault Gordini 157
2 4 W McB March Bill March
Norm Beechey
Renault Gordini 156
3 9 JGR Poulton George Poulton
Joe Vanaria
Triumph Herald 155
4 10 Autoland Pty Ltd Bill Jane
Norm Henthorn
Jim White
Triumph Herald 155
5 15 Alan Coffey Motors Lou Molina
Doug Whiteford
Ford Anglia 152
6 2 Ian W Robertson Les Park
Stan Martin
Renault Gordini 150
7 11 Viscount Motors Pty Ltd Alan Caelli
J Edwards
M Watson
Ford Anglia 149
8 14 KF Lott Kevin Lott
Brian Devlin
Peter Candy
Ford Anglia 148
9 12 Hilltop Auto John Brindley
Lou Burke
Ford Anglia 148
10 16 Alan Coffey Motors Peter Coffey
Ian Trudinger
Ford Anglia 146
11 7 HNE Johannesen Neil Johannesen
Graham Mills
Jacques Sapir
Morris 850 136
Disq[5] 8 G Reynolds Hoot Gibson
Paul England
Triumph Herald 12

Note: There was no outright winner, with only the winners of the four classes being given official recognition and prize money.[6] However the Mercedes-Benz 220SE driven by Bob Jane and Harry Firth was the only car to complete the full 500-mile distance and it is generally considered to be the "winner" of the race.


  • Fastest Lap - #32 Jane/Firth - 2:41 - Laps 14 & 121
  • Race Time - 8:00:31


  1. ^ Front cover, Official Programme, 1961 Armstrong 500, Philip Island, Sunday, 19 November 1961, pages 18 & 19
  2. ^ a b Tuckey, Bill (1981). "1961: The day the idea nearly died:". Australia's Greatest Motor Race The Complete History. Sydney: Lansdowne Press. pp. 74–81. ISBN 0-7018-1547-7.
  3. ^ a b c d e The 1961 Armstrong 500 - A classic canter for hacks, Official Programme,1962 Armstrong 500, Philip Island, Sunday, 21 October 1962, pages 12 to 23
  4. ^ a b Entry list, Official Programme, 1961 Armstrong 500, Philip Island, Sunday, 19 November 1961, pages 18 & 19
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Australia's Greatest Motor Race, Second Edition 1990, page 292
  6. ^ How the Armstrong 500 is run, Official Programme, 1961 Armstrong 500, Philip Island, Sunday, 19 November 1961, page 7
  • Australia's Greatest Motor Race, 1960–1989, The First 30 Years
  • The Australian Racing History of Ford, © 1989
  • The First 15 Years (Hardie-Ferodo 1000, A Pictorial History 1960–1975)
  • Wilson, Stewart (1988). The Official Racing History of Holden. Hornsby: Chevron Publishing Group. ISBN 0959037845.
  • The Age, Monday, 20 November 1961, Page 17
  • Greenhalgh, David; Thomas B. Floyd; Bill Tuckey (2000). "1961 The day the idea nearly died". Australia's Greatest Motor Race 1960-1999 The first 40 years. Hornsby: Chevron Publishing Group Pty Limited. pp. 102–107 & 451. ISBN 1-875221-12-3.

External links