Aaron Noonan updates us on the many things that have come across his desk in motor racing history-land. Meantime, the XB GT model gets our ‘nuts and bolts’ R-Rated treatment.
There has been plenty going on in recent times in the Australian touring car collector market with some significant transactions going through in recent months. Plenty of hype and attention was created by the recent decision by Walkinshaw Racing to sell a pride and joy of the team’s time racing as the Holden Racing Team – the 1990 Bathurst-winning Win Percy/Allan Grice Commodore VL Group A ‘Walky’.
Originally built in England by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and flown out to Australia to compete in the 1988 Tooheys 1000 in Holden Special Vehicles colours, it infamously lasted just a few laps with Walkinshaw himself at the helm. Rebuilt, it had its revenge on Mount Panorama two years later to record a popular win, the first in ‘The Great Race’ by the HRT.
I’ve heard all sorts of numbers bandied about as to what it has been sold for, but needless to say the final price would have been decent – it’s a very special car in Bathurst history and also in terms of Aussie muscle car heritage. This was the year HRT overcame the hordes of Ford Sierra turbos through a combination of superb engineering, great drivers and a never-say-die team spirit. Indeed, AMC #13’s cover story was entitled ‘Mission Impossible’, as the local motorsport media didn’t rate the V8 Commodore as a potential Bathurst winner in ’90. Nonetheless, HRT caught everybody by surprise and delivered arguably the Red Lion’s most courageous win at Mount Panorama.
I’m just glad it’s staying here in Australia; there was a range of overseas-based buyers, all very keen to get their hands on a unique part of TWR history!
Its new owner? Eggleston Motorsport. Rachael and Ben Eggleston also own last issue’s cover car, the VR Commodore Craig Lowndes and Greg Murphy drove to victory in the 1996 Great Race. Also
finding a new home in recent times is Peter Brock’s 1991 Mobil 1 Racing Commodore VN. Built by Perkins Engineering when the 1982, ’83 and ’84 Bathurst winners reunited for a season, it’s been purchased out of Tasmania by Melbourne’s Keith Linnell. It’s the one and the same car that Brock drove at Bathurst in ’91 in that wild Top 10 Shootout lap where the roaring Holden V8 was all-singing and Brock slid sideways across McPhillamy Park – worth looking back at the videotape to refresh your memory if it’s slipped through your grey matter.
The car was later converted to V8 Supercar spec, so it still has a Chevrolet engine from that era. But it’s in VN bodywork and looks great,
so hopefully a restoration back to full Group A VN spec beneath the panels can be done somewhere in the future. Ford
fans should have enjoyed the recent retro round at the Sandown 500 in Melbourne with a range of great cars on display.
We even arranged for Bruce Heinrich to bring over his Supercheap Auto Falcon AU from South Australia for current day Supercars star Chaz Mostert to slip behind the wheel of for some TV filming, in addition to a press photo shoot with its original pilot Steve Ellery.
Poor Chaz is fully in the era of sequential gearboxes in Supercars, so found coming to terms with the H-pattern a little bit of a challenge in just a matter of a few laps.
The V8 Sleuth team put together a significant car display at Sandown for Supercars to help everyone get in the ‘retro’ mood.
Seeing Neville Butler’s great big ex-Garry Willmington XD Falcon Group C car parked next to Stephen Toth’s little Toyota Team Australia Corolla was certainly a scene of contrasts!
A couple of ripper Allan Moffat hardtop replicas gave us some 1970s taste and 1990s Group A era Ford action came via Chris Stillwell’s Shell/DJR Sierra (the last of the six the team built) and the 1992 Bathurst Caltex car of Colin Bond; its livery replicated on the track by Craig Lowndes’ #888 Commodore for the retro round.
Throw in the mighty ex-John Mann Appendix J Mustang among a range of other cars and tastes of fans were catered for no matter whether they are a blue or red car fan – or of anything else for that matter!
Overall, it was the first time that the Supercars fraternity really got into the spirit of the retro round concept and the dedication to the task paid off handsomely. Not only did the ‘old school’ theme give the Sandown 500 widespread pre-event media coverage (a difficult task during the footy finals), but it created a fun trackside vibe that also came across on television. With
confirmation Holden will move the Holden Racing Team brand from Walkinshaws to Red Bull/Triple Eight next year, that brings an end to the current chapter of the HRT.
I’ve been working on a special limited edition book covering the racing histories of all of the team’s cars and now we’re at the point where you can register to be alerted to when you can pre- order your copy to make sure you don’t miss out as we put the full stop on the Walkinshaw era of HRT cars and their history.
The details are here on this very page, but make sure you get in and register your email address with us as we are only printing a limited number of copies.
We’ve been interviewing a range of former team drivers and personnel as well as sifting through all sorts of material that have confirmed some of our theories and timelines on the ‘war stories’ of some of the cars, particularly the Group A VL and VN Commodores and the early winged VPs – all waiting to be revealed!
Our own archives feature a lot of great photos that have never been published – until now! We’ve also talked to the various designers of all of the great HRT liveries and have some great behindthe-scenes stories or how, why and what.
This book is a limited edition and there’s still so much content that we just can’t quite squeeze in! So I thought I’d share a little shot of a photo that hasn’t made the cut for the book.
This shot is Win Percy in 1991 on the Lang Lang proving ground trying to break the magical 300kmh barrier in the team’s very first VN Commodore. He didn’t quite make it to the 300 mark, but it’s always interesting to see race cars in places other than on race tracks! As
always, I love hearing from AMC readers with questions, information or feedback. If you’ve got an interesting car or interesting stories, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office on (03) 9585 1981.