THAT CAR WAS SCARY: WHAT LARKO'S FIRST FALCON WAS LIKE
Published 04 June 2019
STORY: WILL DALE
IMAGE: AN1 IMAGES (COVENTRY COLLECTION)
MARK Larkham's original Mitre 10 Ford Falcon EF is widely hailed as a Supercar that was just too ahead of its time.
Cameron McConville, who co-drove the car in 1996, has another way of describing it.
McConville was the guest for the latest episode of The V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Doric, the one-on-one chat with Aaron Noonan unearthing a few forgotten tales and funny stories from his life in motorsport.
Larkham made the leap into touring cars in 1995, his small team designing and building their own car filled with ideas developed from their time racing Formula Holden.
A key part of that was its 'monocoque' cockpit design, which shifted the driver well inboard and down from the traditional seating position. Although it's common practice in current-spec Supercars, the design was a radical departure from the then-norm.
For McConville, who co-drove with Larkham at the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 in 1996, it provided an unnerving experience compared to driving other cars of the era.
"That car was scary," he told The V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Doric.
"It was – with respect to Larko if you're listening, and I'm sure he will be – really different.
"Larko was a purist racer, that's what I love about him and that's why he's so good at imparting his knowledge on the TV, but when he engineered this car he tried to make it an open-wheeler.
"It was so ahead of its time because you sat in the middle of the car [but] I was just all at sea.
"I remember driving it at Sandown for the first time where you go up over the top [into the Esses] and I was like 'where's the apex? I can't see...'"
Bathurst was easier after his Sandown baptism of fire, but he missed out on a drive in the race when the car retired in the early laps.
"Sandown was a real struggle because I just did not feel comfortable in the car. It was so different to anything," he said.
"At Bathurst it was better, but the throttle cable broke in the co-driver practice so I missed an hour.
"Larko was a ripper to work with, he was very good on coaching, but unfortunately he got cleaned up in the first stint in the rain so I didn't drive it in the race. It got shortened to a dune buggy."
Other highlights from McConville's visit to The V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Doric include:
- The deal he turned down that would have made him a factory Ford driver
- Nearly tumbling head-first off a bridge during a charity ride to Bathurst
- The massive bluff that secured his last-lap win at Winton in 2004
- Barrel-rolling a car at Laguna Seca's Corkscrew
- His time racing the Holden Monaro in the Bathurst 24 Hour … even though he wasn't originally supposed to!