Peter Janson was keen to secure the services of Parsons for 1984, but for the first time the Melbourne socialite had competition for his services.
“Apart from Janson, there was Warren Cullen (Kmart), Peter Brock (HDT) and Frank Gardner (JPS Team BMW). I didn’t really consider BMW as I always wanted to run a V8. I went with Brock. Why wouldn’t you go there? It was the best team going then and I was paid $12,000 for the year. With Janson I was just being paid expenses.”
Racing for the best team in the country was a double-edged sword for Parsons. The resources available were second to none but the welcoming party was subdued.
“Larry (Perkins) got his nose out of joint as I was quicker than him and my teammate Slug (John Harvey)!”
Bathurst 1984 was the last of Group C era and saw HDT’s dayglo Marlboro Commodores finish a resounding 1-2. But it was anything but plain sailing for the number #25 car of Harvey/Parsons.
“The gearlever came out as I was going up Mountain Straight. It was in fourth and I somehow managed to get it back into the box and select third over the top. Mechanic Marty Watts had the right bolt and was able to fix it properly, but we lost a couple of laps. Peter wanted a 1-2 finish. He said, ‘Skip, don’t worry about it, rev the guts out of it, it will be fine!
“I had to claw 66 seconds off Alan Jones in second. And I did.”
Not surprisingly, Brock was keen for Parsons to co-drive with him in the 1985 endurance races, but Skippy was having none of it.
“I said, ‘Tell Slug, I’m driving with him and that’s that.
“Slug told me that I was going to cause a ripple to which I replied, ‘Who is Brock anyhow? He can find his own co-driver!’” Who was Brock? Only the team owner! Upon reflection, Parsons said this surprising amount of front from the then 26-year-old was due to the loyalty he felt to Harvey. He remembers that Brock got his nose out of joint and tensions were high in the Bathurst pits, particularly on the Saturday for Hardies Heroes.
Parsons says he was so gung-ho he was telling anyone in the team who’d listen he was ‘going to kick Brock’s arse in qualifying’.
Which he duly did, despite the likes of Lewis Brock and Graeme ‘Mort’ Brown trying to calm him down.
“We never had a falling out, but it was niggling,” recalls Parsons today. Not surprisingly, he had to look elsewhere for a drive in 1986…
“I went with Larry in his first year as a privateer. I was quicker than him at Sandown but we finished well down. At Bathurst we broke a gearbox mainshaft while running third. In early 1987 Larry took his Commodore to New Zealand. At Wellington I touched the fence whilst running second. We should have won,” laments Parsons, who was replaced by Denny Hulme for the Pukekohe race.
It looked like Parsons would miss out on a drive for Bathurst ‘87. Unusually for him, he took the initiative and picked up the phone and called an old mate who was also down on his luck.
“So I called Brock. I understood things weren’t great (Brock had just had his infamous bust-up with Holden over the polarizer) and I said to him, ‘Let’s team up and kick their arses!”
“He couldn’t pay me anything and said that there was no money for hotels, but my air tickets were covered. It was done on a handshake. There were a lot of betrayals. It was all wrong. All Brock wanted to be was the first Holden home. I told him we can do that.”
The story of how Brock, Parsons and Peter McLeod wrestled the 1987 James Hardie 1000 from the best factory touring car teams in the world has been told in these pages back in issue #33. But what does Parsons recall about this famous race?
“It really was done on a shoestring. Holden wouldn’t even sell us second hand parts, let alone new parts.”
What hasn’t been reported was that the #10 VL nearly came-a-cropper during Parsons’ stint.
“I was caught out in the wet on slicks. It was treacherous. I used every bit of lock to get it through The Cutting. I was the last guy out there on slicks but I got it back to the pits for Brock’s run to the flag. The rest is history.”
Peter Brock switched to BMW M3s for 1988 and Parsons was underwhelmed by the Bavarian buzzboxes. Unusually he had an early hit out in the M3 at the Symmons Plains ATCC round, which he wryly recalls.
“I was running late. I had to milk 350 cows. The car was sitting there ready for qualifying. I dived in the right-hand door and nothing. Oh shit! Had to run to the other door (the BMW was LHD). The crew laughed. We got a 1-2 in class, but we were miles off in pace.
“Compared to the Commodore, it was like chalk and cheese. Did I enjoy it? There was not
enough power; I thought it stopped and handled well enough.”
Parsons took a gap year in 1989 for personal reasons but vowed to return the following year. “It drove me mad,” he remembers. “I bought a big television and watched Bathurst at home without being disturbed.”
In 1990 Parsons shared a Brock Ford Sierra RS500 with Charlie O’Brien. He remembers the Sierra being a totally different kind of racecar.
“One minute you had no horsepower, then a split second later it went from 300 to 600 horsepower. On skinny tyres!” Their Sierra finished fourth at Sandown with Brock at the wheel and 11th at Bathurst. This was the last time he would race with Brock.