I will have to apologise as apparently I have my facts wrong. Certainly, it seems, lap 6 has always had the 1 metre rule enforced as mentioned by Jonah Takalau and reiterated to me by our club president. Don Grieg’s band may have been doing some corner cutting out front on the years that they were so far ahead that the race referee couldn’t keep up with them. Lap 7 may not have been as well policed.
As for lap 1, I have a photo of my uncle (Roger Sharpe) running down the centre line of Dires pass road in 1976 with Ian Milne, and there are cars on either side of them. There is no way they would have gotten away with that in this era.