Vale Jim McKeown
Tuesday 23rd May, 2023 - 4:12pm
Australian motor sport lost another of its legendary figures with the passing of Jim McKeown at the age of 85.
Renown for his exploits in Ford Cortinas and Porsches, McKeown had a long history of racing in Improved Production, but his career began in the 1950s.
It started with a Austin Healey that he raced and hillclimbed in Victoria before he teamed up George Roberts in the Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island in 1962 for a Class D victory in their VW Beetle. When the race moved to Bathurst, they again teamed up for a third in class.
It was in his self-engineered Cortina that McKeown came to prominence which he qualified on pole for the 1964 Australian Touring Car Championship at Lakeside in Queensland. He was one of only four to get pole position on his debut.
He raced in the ATCC from there to 1972. He was part of the successful Neptune Racing Team alongside Norm Beechey in his Holden EH S4, and Peter “Skinny” Manton in his Mini Cooper S.
The team later became known as the Shell Racing Team and consisted of McKeown in a Porsche 911S, and Beechey in a Holden Monaro GTS350 while Manton remained loyal to the BMC brand.
He also went on to join the Ford works team under Harry Firth and drove with Spencer Martin in an automatic Ford Falcon XT in 1968. They finish well down the order after they had to make trackside repair to a broken rear axle.
In the 1970s McKeown, in a Porsche 911S, finished second in the ATCC, just four points behind championship winner Beechey and won the final round at Symmons Plains.
He raced Porsches in the Sports Sedan category, achieving a second-place finish in the 1974 Toby Lee Series at Oran Park. When the turbos were banned he raced an Alfa Romeo GTV.
He also went back to Bathurst and together with Beechey in a Valiant Charger finished 12th in 1971 and had his last appearance there in 1976, alongside in a Mazda RX-3 with Geoff Leeds, who also passed away earlier in week..
Speedcafe expresses its deepest condolences to his wife Toni, his family and friends.Sign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.
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