“The F1 team was next door. It was roped off but we used to look over. There was a bloke working there one Sunday and Cary said, “You’re a New Zealander aren’t you?” It was Roy Billington. After a few visits he asked if we’d like to come to Oulton Park and give him a hand, pushing the cars around, polishing them, cleaning their rose-joints, that sort of stuff.”
His eagerness had led to a full-time job – and a surprise role – for Ilich by 1966: “One day Jack said, ‘Flying Repco engines back and forth to and from Australia isn’t going to work. We’re going to have to rebuild them here.’ So, along with Jimmy Potton, a very experienced English mechanic who had worked for Aston Martin, I helped strip the first engine.
“Then, and I don’t know why, Jimmy left, and Jack asked me, ‘Did you watch how he pulled that engine to bits?’
“I replied, ‘No, not really.’”
“But I’d worked on truck engines in Australia and been building engines at Conversions, so I got it back together and we put it into Jack’s BT19. It wouldn’t go. The battery was flat. When it did start, we’d flooded it and flames shot about 10 metres from the exhausts.