Trump­ing Lown­des

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

When Craig Lown­des crossed the line to win the 1996 Bathurst 1000, motorsport fans and the me­dia anointed the new Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pion as team­mate Peter Brock’s log­i­cal suc­ces­sor. But a decade ear­lier there was a driver who can lay claim to be­ing Brock’s first fresh-faced un­der­study. His name is David Par­sons and the sim­i­lar­i­ties to Lown­des are un­canny.

Ev­ery­one re­mem­bers how Lown­des, in his first year with the Holden Rac­ing Team, al­most stole the 1994 Bathurst 1000, ul­ti­mately fin­ish­ing as run­ner-up. Ten years ear­lier, and in his first drive with Holden’s flag­ship team at Bathurst, Par­sons was able to chase down the Alan Jones-driven Kmart Com­modore to se­cure sec­ond and help Brock’s Holden Dealer Team to a re­sound­ing 1-2 in the last of the ‘Big Banger’ Com­modores.

Here’s the rub. While Lown­des was a pioneer in the pro­fes­sional era – where in­ex­pe­ri­enced young guns were hired purely on abil­ity, Par­sons ca­reer com­menced when paid works drives didn’t ex­ist and most com­peti­tors were ex­pe­ri­enced owner/driv­ers. Par­sons’ front­line ca­reer ex­tended to 18 years, but he only com­peted se­ri­ously in the ATCC twice, and with a bud­get that wouldn’t cover the HDT’s cater­ing bill.

Par­sons’ long ca­reer is tes­ta­ment to one thing – his raw speed. Year in, year out, he was able to match the times of the lead driver, of­ten with­out much test­ing be­hind him. In another era he could have won mul­ti­ple cham­pi­onships and many Bathursts in­stead of the one vic­tory as Brock’s off­sider in the ex­plo­sive 1987 World Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship round at Mount Panorama. He did come very close eight years later in another of those dra­matic mo­ments that only seem to hap­pen in the Great Race.

This out­wardly laid­back dairy farmer was the ‘Cap­tain’s pick’ for plum drives in the Bathurst en­duros for Peter Jan­son, Larry Perkins, Peter Brock and Glenn Se­ton right into the V8 Su­per­car era. ‘Skippy’ out­lines his mem­o­ries of rac­ing for the HDT and ex­plains how a long-term de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tion cur­tailed a stel­lar ca­reer.

He also re­veals he wasn’t al­ways the easy­go­ing co-driver the rac­ing pub­lic largely per­ceived him to be.

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