Vale Alan Browne
Alan Browne wasn’t one of the Bathurst 1000’s stereotypical privateers who rocked up to the Mount every year for two decades. But then, he achieved in his five starts what some perennials failed to achieve in a quarter of a century.
Browne’s quintet of campaigns between 1979 and 1984 netted no fewer than four top five finishes, a remarkable result in an era of low finishing rates for non-factory teams. This included co-driving the 1982 James Hardie 1000’s polesitting VH Commodore that Allan Grice took to second place in the race, beaten only by Peter Brock and Larry Perkins at the peak of HDT’s powers.
Born in England, the stocky Browne got into racing in his adopted homeland very late, with his first race in a Torana at Winton in 1978. He made his Bathurst debut the following year co-driving an A9X with Brian Sampson, finishing 17th. Thereafter he never finished the big race lower than fifth. The extraordinary run started when he and Sampson came home a credible fourth in a Commodore carrying the white, yellow and black colours of his ultra-successful truck repair business, Re-Car Industries. For 1981 he enlisted the talents of Sports Sedan champ Tony Edmondson. They were running an excellent fifth outright when Edmondson arrived on the scene of the Bob Morris/Christine Gibson track-blocking and race-ending crash.
Then came his aforementioned best result, which, according to the ’82 Great Race annual book, prompted him to declare on the podium that he was going to retire from racing, so delighted was he with the result. Nonetheless the racing bug still bit and he was entered in ’83 to co-drive with his Commodore’s new owner Rusty French, but stepped aside for Bob Morris two days before the race. Fittingly, Browne exited Bathurst on a high with fifth place partnering Barry Lawrence in ’84.
Browne died in July.