Industry loses stalwart business owner and racer

The AAAA and Australian Auto Aftermarket Magazine have been saddened to hear of the passing of industry legend Brian Sampson in November of last year, aged 88.
A service to celebrate Brian’s life was held at Bunurong Memorial Park in Dandenong South in early December.
Brian was well known in motor racing circles for winning the Bathurst 1000 in 1975, sharing a Holden Torana L34 with the legendary Peter Brock.
However, Brian was also a successful businessman in the automotive aftermarket industry, where he owned Speco Thomas for over five decades.
Speco Thomas, based in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin, is an Australian distributor of many well-known automotive parts and accessories, including VHT aerosol paints and Speco Meter Gauges.
Brian purchased the business, which was then known as Speco, from racing identity Eddie Thomas in 1968. The following year he changed its name to Speco Thomas.
Brian also foundered Motor Improvements, a specialist engine reconditioner and the source of Speco Blueprint camshafts.
Brian’s racing career began in 1954 when he competed in a hillclimb on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. He raced many cars in a long career including both open-wheelers and touring cars.
Brian had literally hundreds of wins, both outright and class, from a hard-won third place in the 1958 sports car race at Albert Park in his Supercharged Morris Special to winning, in November 2000, all three Formula Ford races in his RF77 Van Diemen and claiming third outright in the Trans Tasman Challenge in Max Warwick’s beautiful McLaren M10 Formula 5000 at the Sandown Historic Races.
Long distance races were a specialty, beginning with 10th place at Albert Park in the 1955 Argus Moomba TT 100 Miles Sports Car Event driving an Austin Healy 100/4 through to 10th at his last Bathurst in 1990 driving with Bill O’Brien in the Everlast Commodore.
His first long distance success came at te 1959 Armstrong 500 with a first in ‘A’ Class, driving a Renault Gordini with John Connolly.

His most notable victory was the aforementioned 1975 Bathurst win, co-driving with Peter Brock, but Brian was also very proud of the 1977 Oran Park Rothman’s 500 win in the Warren Cullen Pioneer L34 and his 1978 Rothmans 500 third place outright with Peter Williamson in a Toyota Celica.
In the 1980 Bathurst 1000 he netted fourth place outright with Alan Browne in the Re-Car Commodore. In total, Brian competed in the Bathurst, Oran Park, and Phillip Island Classics 20 times.
His final race was on his 78th birthday in a historic Formula Ford at Sandown Raceway.
All at the AAAA and AAAM express their sincere condolences to Brian’s family.