Harry Firth was born in Orbost, Victoria, in 1918, and began his working life in a country garage.
As a race and rally driver he won the Bathurst 500 four times, the Southern Cross Rally and the Australian Rally Championship. But he was also an ingenious and highly talented engineer and team manager. Arguably the most indelible mark he left on Australian racing history was through his achievements as team manager at the Ford Works Team and the Holden Dealer Team. Harry co-designed and race-developed the Cortina GT 500, the GT Falcon, the Torana XU1, L34 and A9X, was responsible for launching and mentoring drivers Colin Bond and Peter Brock (nine times winner of the Bathurst 1000), and lead teams to victory at five Bathursts, five Australian Manufacturers’ Championships and four Australian Rally Championships, making an immeasurable contribution to the history of the Australian muscle car and Australian motorsport.
In this 2012 video Harry gives us a commentary on home movies taken by the Whalley Family of two Rob Roy meets, one on the original dirt track, taken in either 1937 or 1938, and another on the sealed track, possibly in 1948.Many thanks to the Whalley FamilyBackground
The Rob Roy Hillclimb
, Australia’s oldest purpose-built Hillclimb, was established in 1937 at Christmas Hills, about 30 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne. Hillclimbing, in which cars are driven uphill one at a time against the clock, is one of motorsport’s oldest events and was first held in 1897 in France.
Cut out of the bush, the Rob Roy course included an uphill, half-mile, graded dirt road. In 1939, the track was sealed and became one of only three bitumen-surfaced purpose-built hillclimbs in the world, the other two being the Shelsley Walsh and Prescott courses in the UK.
The Rob Roy Hillclimb attracted professionals, enthusiasts and amateurs, along with their often specially modified Bugattis, Elfins, MGs and Holdens, and has a special place in Australia’s motoring history. Drivers who competed here include Jack Brabham, Harry Firth, Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Reg Parnell, Stan Jones, Lex Davison, Bill Patterson, Doug Whiteford, Peter Whitehead, Reg Hunt and Len Lukey, drivers who also tackled and in some cases vanquished the Formula One circuit.
In 1962, bushfires ravaged the Rob Roy course, and it lay in disuse for 30 years until the MG Car Club of Victoria secured a lease on the property and faithfully restored the track to host a bustling schedule of Hillclimb events every year. Sources:
Leon Sims, A history of Rob Roy Hillclimb - 1937 to 1961 - The Hill, The Drivers, Th