The 1976 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 was the 17th running of the Bathurst 1000 touring car race. It was held on 3 October 1976 at the Mount Panorama Circuit just outside Bathurst in New South Wales, Australia. The race was open to cars eligible to the locally developed CAMS Group C touring car regulations.
The race was dramatically won by the Ron Hodgson Motors entered Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34 of Bob Morris and British driver John Fitzpatrick. The car slowed in the final laps trailing smoke but made to the finish. Television commentators and motoring journalists reported at the time that the Torana had broken an axle plus was having engine problems which accounted for the smoke. It was only later did the teams chief mechanic Bruce Richardson discover that there was no broken axle or engine trouble. What was actually slowing the car was a blown gearbox oil seal. The oil was leaking out onto the clutch causing it to slip badly. Second on the same lap was Holden Dealer Team Torana L34 of Colin Bond and John Harvey. Peter Janson and Kevin Bartlett completed a second consecutive podium clean sweep for the Torana L34. In fact, Torana L34's filled the top seven finishers.
The competitors in the over three litre class included ex-Formula 1 drivers Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss, in a Torana L34 entered by Esmonds Motors of Queanbeyan. Brabham was driving competitively for the first time since 1971, and Moss had not competed in a circuit race since his Goodwood crash in 1962. The two former Grand Prix stars attracted much publicity and ultimately qualified tenth. However, their race effectively ended when Brabham lined up to take the start; the Torana’s gears became jammed on the grid and a Triumph Dolomite Sprint rammed it hard from behind (in his attempt to find a gear, Jack had failed to put his arm out the window to warn other drivers). Although the Torana was hastily repaired, and reappeared several hours later simply for appearances, it eventually blew its motor with Moss at the wheel. Unfortunately Moss attracted criticism from other drivers after the Torana's engine blew as he continued to drive the car on the racing line for ¾ of a lap, with smoke billowing from the exhaust and dropping oil on the track.
The three litre class saw Capris drivers Barry Seton and Don Smith took a one lap victory over the Mazda RX-3 of Don Holland and Lynn Brown. Another Capri, the car of Graham Moore and emerging Queensland driver Dick Johnson were a further lap down in third.
The two litre class also saw one lap margins between the top three cars with the Ford Escort of Eric Boord and Tom Tymons beating the Alfa Romeo GTV of Phil McDonnell and Jim Hunter. The Bob Holden run Ford Escort of Lyndon Arnel and Peter Hopwood was third.
The John Roxburgh run Datsun Sunny of Bill Evans and Bruce Stewart took a two lap victory in the 1.3 litre class over the Honda Civics of Brian Reed and Ian Chilman, and Roger Bonhomme and Doug Whiteford.
The 1976 race continues to be a source of controversy, as it has been claimed that a lap scoring error caused the HDT Torana of Bond and Harvey not to be counted for a lap, thus robbing them of the victory. However HDT, the team backed by Holden, did not appeal the results; some have claimed this is because Holden did not want to appear to be doing a disservice to the Morris/Fitzpatrick team which was run by Ron Hodgson Motors, which at the time was Sydney's largest Holden dealership. The lap counting error has been denied by the Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC), and by some teams (including the race winners and television broadcaster Channel 7) who carried out their own lap scoring, and an appeal of the results was not lodged prior to the expiration date meaning the results as published are final. In 2003 Holden offered Harvey an apology for not appealing the results, at a testimonial dinner for Harvey who after retiring from racing had gone on to become a senior executive with Holden Special Vehicles. Since that time though, Harvey has caused controversy by publicly stating that he was the winner of the race, though the official results continue to show him finishing second. For his part, Colin Bond had remained in dignified silence.
The field was divided into four classes based on engine capacity.
The 1300cc class was made up of Alfa Romeo 1300, Datsun 1200, Fiat 128 3P, Ford Escort, Honda Civic, Mazda 1300, Morris Clubman GT, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Passat.
The under two litre class saw a mix of Alfa Romeo Alfetta and 2000 GTV, BMW 2002, Fiat 124 Sport, Ford Escort RS2000, Mazda RX-3, Triumph Dolomite and Volkswagen Golf.
The under three litre class featured BMW 3.0Si, Ford Capri and Mazda RX-3.
The over three litre class consisted only of V8 Holden Torana and Ford Falcon.Pole Position - #9 Allan Moffat - 2:25.0
Fastest Lap - #9 Allan Moffat & #5 Peter Brock - 2:28.4
Average Speed - 141 km/h
Race Time - 7:07:12.0