WHILE local racing legend, Tino Leo’s 1971 HQ GTS Monaro changed hands over the years, he recently bought it back and took it for a spin at the track at Sandown over the weekend.
First purchasing the ‘Touring Car NC’ in 1995, Tino made the decision to sell it to help fund treatment for his wife’s illness in 2001. But this particular Monaro held a special place in Tino’s heart having been through many races with him, and so when he saw it come up for sale, he purchased it back to return it to its former racing glory.
Tino said, “When I saw it come up for sale again, I noticed that the owners had made a mess of it. They had changed its colour and made a few other adjustments, so I bought it back and restored it to what it looked like when I owned and raced it.
“The number plate reads ‘Monaro 1’ because it was the first car built for its particular class for racing.
“This car had raced in the Grand Prix and the Clipsal 500 where I won three races and broke a record for its class.
“When I raced this car at Sandown, nobody could beat me.
“I’d like to thank Wane Chapple for his help with rebuilding the engine and Chris Doonan for supplying parts for it.
“A lot of work and many hours have gone into it.
“It was great to get back behind the wheel at Sandown on the weekend.
“We hadn’t been in the car for 17 years, but the race went well.
“I was very happy with the practice race and first race. Came up 10th out of 45 cars.
“The last race we had a few problems with the gearbox, which meant we had to come in, but we were very happy overall.”