The HRT Army

Australian Muscle Car - - Immortal Muscle -

Sea­son 1996 was also the year the ‘HRT Army’ was mo­bilised. The HRT Army was what spe­cial­ist mo­tor­sport me­dia dubbed the le­gions of fans who massed at race­tracks across the coun­try to cheer on the Gen­eral’s front­line squad.

Such was the lure of HRT’s new star Craig Lown­des as part­ner to the leg­endary Peter Brock that en­lis­tees came from out­side the usual ranks of mo­tor­sport fans. Folk with a pass­ing in­ter­est in rac­ing sud­denly be­came new re­cruits and faith­ful fol­low­ers, much like how oth­er­wise fair-weather footy fans come out of the wood­work when their team goes on a march to the grand fi­nal.

Lo­cal tour­ing car rac­ing had never seen any­thing like it. HRT’s mer­chan­dis­ers hit the jack­pot and it was the be­gin­ning of well-drilled team ap­parel op­er­a­tions.

The HRT Army’s uni­form con­sisted of navy blue Mo­bil-em­bla­zoned jacket, blue jeans, team cap and a sim­i­larly-at­tired girl­friend or wife.

On the rare oc­ca­sions that both HRT Com­modores would make an early exit from a race in the late 1990s, these new re­cruits would im­me­di­ately head en masse for the carpark. In do­ing so they sig­nalled that they weren’t mo­tor rac­ing fans in the tra­di­tional sense, but specif­i­cally HRT fans. Not that race pro­mot­ers, mer­chan­dis­ers and Holden cared one zot.

It was easy to pick the long-time mo­tor rac­ing spec­ta­tors who hap­pened to bar­rack for Lown­des, Brock and Mur­phy, as they stayed to the end to cheer on the other Com­modores if #05 and #15 DNF’ed.

For years later you couldn’t visit a shop­ping cen­tre without see­ing afore­men­tioned navy blue­jack­eted types from HRT’s glory days.

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