Having now contested four 6 hour relay races in the black & white car, Wally Gates well understood the key principle of 6 Hour Relay racing - it was all about reliability and consistency. The AHOC NSW had worked since 1973 toward a goal - to win a 6 hour relay race. And 1977 was the first 6 Hour relay race run at Amaroo Park - Wal's favourite circuit. Wally always drove the black & white car to and from race meetings (he didn't own a trailer!) - even interstate 6 hour relay races. So the 1977 6 Hour relay race - held at Amaroo Park, just 30 minutes drive from home, was as 'easy' as it would ever get... it was just a 30 minute drive to the circuit (as opposed to a 10 hour drive to Calder, in Melbourne!) and a track Wal knew, and liked.
Car A: Wally Gates driving an Austin Healey 3000
Car B: Phil Lyon driving an Austin Healey 100/4
Car C: Roger Miller driving an Austin Healey 100/4
Car D: Ian Russell driving an Austin Healey 3000
Team Manager was Chris Gray
The report (below) on the 1977 6 Hour relay race at Amaroo Park is from the June, 1977 edition of "Racing Car News' Magazine. It was written by Laurie Powell. I have reproduced an excerpt (with the accompanying picture) below:
"...The Handicap winners, Austin Healey OC, finished with 341 laps. Although they had their problems during the day, Team Manager Chris Gray had the gods on his side. Wally Gates' 3000 started blowing smoke after only 15 minutes, but was able to complete 22 laps before having to be replaced. (nb. This was due to a leaking catch tank, spilling on the exhaust.)
Phil Lyon, in a 100/4, took up the challenge and, apart from a dramatic spin in Honda, was going well, completing 50 laps before Wally Gates was again required. This time his car was going well and completed 60 laps before being replaced by Ian Russell after 170 minutes of racing. Ian's 3000 also started to have problems and after only 13 laps Roger Miller's services were required. Roger and his 100/4 only completed 26 laps before the gremlins struck, but the ever dependable Wally Gates was ready to to go yet again, this time to duel and dice for a further 71 laps.
With both driver and car nearly exhausted Wally was replaced on lap 255 by Ian Russell. Well the gremlins decided it was time for Team 8 to have just a little trouble. After only 7 laps Roger Miller had to be recalled to the fray. He lasted only 8 laps. By now, of course, Chris had realised that the saints were barracking for good 'ol Wally, so off he went again to complete the race."
The AHOC success in the 1977 6 Hour Relay race was a culmination of an effort commenced in 1973. Wally Gates & the Black & white car had been a member of the following AHOC NSW 6 Hour relay race teams (Wal was in Ireland during 1975):
September 1973 Calder Park, Melbourne
March, 1974 Oran Park, Sydney
September 1974 Calder Park, Melbourne
September 1976 Calder Park, Melbourne
April, 1977 Amaroo Park, Sydney
Having now finally achieving the goal of winning a 6 Hour relay race - the black & white car was retired from this type of gruelling racing. In fact, Wal only ran in one more race meeting, and one more club level event, in the black & white car.