Australian MUSCLE CAR
Holden has supported local motor racing like no other. Fishermans Bend’s funding of teams in the Bathurst classic has been unbroken since 1968, when the short-lived Holden Dealer Racing Team label was applied to a trio of Monaro GTS 327 entered by Sydney racing identity David McKay.
That support is guaranteed until at least 2019, providing a massive fillip to the Supercars championship as it enters its post-V8 only era. Nothing really changes in a technical sense for 2017, but confirmation of Holden’s move to the next-generation Commodore shape for 2018 means the Supercar’s powerplant will reflect the re-badged Insignia roadcar’s engine. Otherwise, what would be the point of continuing?
Therefore, the Red Bull/HRT-branded Triple Eight sixcylinder turbo Commodores will almost certainly compete in 2018 against some current generation V8-powered VFs. So who will the bulk of the traditional V8-loving Holden fans cheer for? Will they yell for the cars they perceive to be Aussie-built Commodores (i.e. the older V8 cars) or the new shape Commodore which will mirror the fully-imported and rebadged Opel? Could get awkward...
A little disclaimer here: the 2017 Opel Insignia is yet to be officially confirmed as the first fully-imported Commodore and Holden is yet to confirm the turbo six for 2018 Supercars duty. But what other choice does Holden have? Many Holden enthusiasts will bemoan the end of V8-powered racecars, but at least the brand races on. Continuing in Supercar racing was no sure thing.
It appears that Roland Dane presented Holden with the deal of a lifetime, one that slashed the General’s investment in the sport by awarding exclusivity to Triple Eight, who will be able to make a buck from supplying other Holden teams. Then there’s the merchandising gold mine that comes from coupling the HRT and Red Bull drinks logo. Wouldn’t you love a piece of that action?!
Beyond merchandise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the HRT brand is far less prominent in 2017 than it has been in the past. And that’s what it is now – a brand. It was once a team name. Now it’s just a label, switched from one team to another. In doing so, it won’t have the same credibility in the eyes of many. Certainly not mine.
Yet, none of that really matters in the grand scheme of things. The important thing is that the Red Lion races on. For as long as it does we should be truly grateful.