The Cougars

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

Our

cover car, the 1995 Tooheys 1000-win­ning Com­modore of Larry Perkins/Rus­sell In­gall, has an­other, quirkier, claim-to-fame. It also served as the Cougar­mo­bile.

Now, the term ‘Cougar’ has taken on new mean­ing over the last decade or so, but back in 1997 it was the catchy term ap­plied to the all- fe­male driv­ing team backed by Cas­trol.

News of an all-girl team in V8 Su­per­cars was met with plenty of scep­ti­cism from some in pit­lane – not un­like the vibe sur­round­ing the Re­nee Gra­cie and Si­mona de Sil­ve­stro en­try this year. How­ever, the Cougars quickly proved to be a mar­ket­ing mas­ter­stroke.

The Cas­trol Cougars was led by Melinda Price and Ker­ryn Brewer with netballer Michelle Fielke and Chan­nel 9 TV host Kim Watkins also part of the four-girl squad – though only Price and Brewer ended up do­ing any rac­ing. Watkins’ in­volve­ment in the launch and train­ing was all about gain­ing air-time from her em­ployer.

A ma­jor change to the 1995 Bathurst win­ner was un­der the bon­net, with the Perkins-pro­duced Chevro­let en­gine re­placed with the old Holden 308 mo­tor (“we got what we were given and we were grate­ful,” says Price to­day!) and a new ‘Cougar’ liv­ery, com­plete with red, green and black claw marks added.

Brewer was first to race for the team at Lake­side’s 1997 ATCC round and later at Mal­lala, while Price took over in Perth and ran at Oran Park be­fore they paired up for the en­duros. At Sandown they fin­ish­ing 17th and sal­vaged a fine 12th place Bathurst, given that they started 41st af­ter Price crashed in the lead-up to the race.

While it in­deed was a Perkins team car run by Perkins En­gi­neer­ing with Cas­trol back­ing, the Cougars car was clas­si­fied as a pri­va­teer en­try given its Holden en­gine and non-use of the same Dun­lop rub­ber as used on the Level 1 cars of Perkins and In­gall.

The Cougars pro­gram re­turned in 1998 with a par­tial sched­ule of ATCC rounds and an­other en­durance as­sault.

They fin­ished 14th at Sandown and com­bined to im­prove on their pre­vi­ous re­sult at Bathurst and record an 11th place.

As an aside, Larry Perkins him­self be­came a Cas­trol Cougar too in Oc­to­ber 1998 – al­beit only for a week­end!

Not want­ing to risk his new VT Com­modore on the con­crete walls of the non-cham­pi­onship Gold Coast Indy event in the lead-up to Bathurst (which was in Novem­ber that year), Larry took over the Cougar-liv­er­ied car to get him through the week­end. The pro­gram came to an end at the con­clu­sion of ’98.

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