Doug Clark at the wheel of his Toyota Celica on the way to victory in the third of his three wins at Phillip Island.
Doug Clark at the wheel of his Toyota Celica on the way to victory in the third of his three wins at Phillip Island.

This motoring life

For Doug Clark life since he left school has been hard work interspersed with cars, loving cars, working in car spare parts department, selling cars, rebuilding cars and racing cars on a variety of tracks including some of Australia's top circuits.

His most memorable would be four starts at Bathurst, the pinnacle of racing in Australia and with owner/co-driver Graeme Bailey winning the under 2000cc class in magnificent fashion in 1980.

He has also added two Queensland State Titles to his record.

Doug was born in Glen Innes but has spent a fair time involved in the car industry in Grafton, firstly and mainly with his flagship dealership, Doug Clark Toyota, in Prince Street.

Around five years ago, he added Skyline Car Care at South Grafton.

Throughout his life he has kept busy working hard and spare time has been spent in car racing and more recently in historic car shows and historic car racing, gaining success with a car he himself rebuilt.

Coming to Grafton in 1983 Doug continued his competition interests for some time before deciding it was taking too much time from his business activities and the farm he had purchased.

Doug eventually, in January 2004, sold the Prince Street Toyota business but retains Skyline, sited opposite the local landmark 'Tin Bridge' on the Pacific Highway at South Grafton, and has returned once more to the racing scene, a scene he loves passionately.

The farm Doug and wife Jean operate is a 70-acre grazing and stud cattle property, Jendougha, at Whiteman Creek on the outskirts of Grafton, where the couple breed and raise Brangus cattle.

Doug admits to spending less time these days, perhaps one day a week, at his Skyline Car Care Business, leaving the running of that for most part in the care of manager Mark Warren.

Douglas Ronald Clark was born in 1944 the son of Glen Innes butcher Robert (Bob) and May (nee Arthur) Clark.

He has one brother, Graham who lives at Wamberal on the NSW Central Coast.

Doug attended Glen Innes Primary School and then Gosford High when his parents moved to that area living at Terrigal.

"I didn't have time for playing sport as I was too busy working before and after school seven days a week," Doug said.

"I chopped wood, split it, loaded it onto a barrow and wheeled it up hill to the then guest house, Huntington House in Terrigal.

"It was tough work but I didn't mind that as it gave me pocket money."

At 15 years of age and at the end of third year at Gosford High, Doug left school and his first job, naturally, was in the car trade, in the spare parts department of Regal Motors at Gosford.

Just 18 months into that job he was promoted to department manager and in fact at one stage was involved in five jobs all up at Regal Motors.

"It would start with me cleaning the showroom early each morning before opening time and then during the day I would operate the spare parts department and was also involved in the selling of cars.

"Three nights a week I would catch the train to Central Station in Sydney, take a cab to Zetland, pick up a Morris or Mini Minor and drive the vehicle back to Regal Motors.

"No rest day because for some time on Sundays I was involved in picking beans," he said.

"I would bag them and take the bags to the station for transport to the Sydney market.

"After eight years at Regal Motors I left to work for Brian Hilton Motors in spare parts sales at Gosford.

"When I started there was a staff of just three.

"I worked for him for over 16 years and at the end of that time we had built the staff up to 72 selling and servicing Renault and Peugeot vehicles. The last six years we added the Toyota dealership.

"In my latter time with Brian Hilton I was manager of his Wyong Toyota Branch."

Doug started into car racing in 1968 when he was 23 and around five years before he made the Clarence District his home.

His first car was a Mini Cooper racing at Oran Park and Warwick Farm and driving on the same program as Peter Brock.

From there Doug progressed to Open Sports Cars, operating in partnership with John Wright who had designed and rebuilt a Gordini Renault.

"Around 1972 when I was 25 or 26 I was driving at tracks around the country such as Phillip Island, Oran Park, the Adelaide Raceway, Surfers Paradise etc and was doing well," Doug said.

"It was at that time I won the Beare and Ley Cup as the overall pointscore winner in Group A on the Oran Park/ Amaroo circuit and was absolutely loving the action.

"Racing continued and I was racing in Sports Sedans with an 1800cc Celica for a few years and then in 1978 I raced for the first time at magical Bathurst.

"Owner/co-driver Jeff Harris and I finished the race but an electrical problem saw to it that we were not in contention for a placing," Doug said.

"Bathurst is the pinnacle of Australian racing.

"It is a demanding circuit with its speed and the challenges of inclines and declines.

"It is thrilling just to be there let alone compete in that electric atmosphere.

"That is why racing at Bathurst continues to bring drivers and supporters back again and again to The Hill.

"There is big interest in car racing in Australia and the scene had been added to with the recent introduction of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.

"So great is the atmosphere that The Clipsal also attracts big crowds, 250,000 to the four days of racing this year including over 100,000 on the final day."

Following his 1980 under 2000cc win at Bathurst Doug rebuilt another sports sedan, adapting a six cylinder 300hp Holden Motor to a Celica.

The car proved a winner and his biggest success was in winning the 1983 and 1984 Queensland Sports Sedan Championships at Surfers Paradise and Lakeside circuits respectively.

It was at the end of 1984 that Doug decided to give motor racing away and sold his cars but the ardour persisted as he followed the events being run with avid interest.

The lure proved too strong and in 2002 Doug returned to the sport, this time contesting the Historic Class in an Austin Lancer.

Sharing many of his race-related activities has been long time friend and valued assistant, Toyota sales rep Ray Hopwood.

Of late Doug has reintroduced the 1978 car, the Toyota Celica, which he took to Phillip Island track in February this year.

The Celica was one of the 460 cars in the historic range, contesting Group C which caters for vehicles of the 1977 to 1984 Production Touring Class.

"We were placed first in our class for the three races contested and overall third outright in Group C," Doug said.

"I have also rebuilt a 1958 Austin Lancer and a 1975 Toyota Celica which are driven in events and outings held by the Grafton Vintage Motor Vehicle Club.

"Our big show is here at Jacaranda Festival time."

Wife Jean, who proudly proclaims herself as Doug's Number One supporter, said his next race appearance is expected to be later this month, at Oran Park's Touring Car Festival on April 23 and 24.

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