2003 Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 1000 Win­ner

Greg Mur­phy/Rick Kelly #51 Kmart Rac­ing Holden Com­modore VY Chas­sis – HRT 043

Australian Muscle Car - - Cars That Won Bathurst -

The 2003 Great Race win­ner will live in the his­tory books as the car dubbed the ma­chine which com­pleted the ‘Lap of the Gods’, a ti­tle that even its pi­lot Greg Mur­phy is some­what un­com­fort­able with.

Orig­i­nally a Holden Rac­ing Team VT Com­modore built in 2000 for Craig Lowndes (and driven that year at Bathurst by he and Mark Skaife to sixth place and thus seal­ing the first of Skaife’s three straight ti­tles with HRT), this car would be bet­ter known for its achieve­ments in white paint than red.

It was up­graded to VX spec and again driven by Skaife in 2001 be­fore he de­buted HRT 045 (an­other car with a nick­name, ‘Golden Child’) at that year’s Queens­land 500 with 043 be­com­ing a spare used at the non-cham­pi­onship Gold Coast Indy event and at Sandown as a Young Lions car with a very young Rick Kelly on-board.

It re­mained a spare in 2002 but was re­turned to ac­tion in 2003 for new HRT sign­ing Todd Kelly.

Up­dated to VY ‘Project Blue­print’ spec­i­fi­ca­tion with dou­ble wish­bone front sus­pen­sion, it re­tained the ex­ist­ing 18-de­gree Chev in­stead of the new-spec pow­er­plant.

Kelly ran it for the first half of the sea­son be­fore it was dam­aged in a crash in Dar­win and it was fully stripped and re­built, re-ap­pear­ing in Greg Mur­phy’s hands at Oran Park as the #51 Kmart car and the first VY the Kmart team had got their hands on.

He and Rick Kelly fin­ished third at the Sandown 500 and the his­tory books com­pletely tell the story of its Bathurst as­sault – pole po­si­tion in a jaw-drop­ping 2m 06.8594s, 120 laps of 161 led and a pop­u­lar vic­tory at the end of the day, right­ing the wrongs of the pre­vi­ous year’s in­fa­mous five-minute penalty given for a fuel spill in pit lane.

Mur­phy took 043 to an­other round vic­tory at Pukekohe and fin­ished off the sea­son aboard her be­fore she be­came a Kmart spare in 2004.

But af­ter a frus­trat­ing sea­son, the Kiwi was back in the car from Barba­gallo on­wards in a bid to find race-win­ning form.

It be­came the sec­ond team car for Sandown and Bathurst with Tim Lea­hey and Steve Owen driv­ing be­fore Mur­phy won the Gold Coast round (fea­tur­ing the Spi­der-Man 2 liv­ery cre­ated by a team in­clud­ing this story’s au­thor!) and Rick Kelly fin­ished the year in 043 at East­ern Creek due to a car swap be­tween the team­mates for the last round of the se­ries.

Re­tained but not used as a spare chas­sis for a few years, it was sold to Com­modore Cup driver Tony Bates who raced it in the Dun­lop Se­ries in 2008 and 2009 be­fore be­ing sold to col­lec­tor John An­der­son.

Queens­land-based An­der­son en­gaged exDen­car man Ge­orge Smith and ex-HRT new car build chief Rick Wy­att – who orig­i­nally built it back in 2000 – to re­store it com­pletely to its 2003 Bathurst-win­ning spec, in­clud­ing re­mov­ing bars added later in its life, to en­sure orig­i­nal­ity.

Com­pleted in 2012 the car was used as part of the film­ing for Chan­nel Seven’s open­ing to that year’s Bathurst tele­cast and was driven by Mur­phy at the Moun­tain that year with some demo laps.

“It’s bet­ter than a brand new car when it was first built back in the day!” he said at the time. “It’s very, very nice.”


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