NOT like a bought one

Nowa­days V8 Su­per­cars at Bathurst share noth­ing with show­room stock ex­cept the badges, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bathurst 1000 -

THE days of show­room stock rac­ing in the Bathurst 1000 are long gone. To­day’s Fal­con and Com­modore con­tenders are pur­pose­built race­cars that share even less than the ba­sics with the Ford and Holden in show­rooms.

The Ford and Holden badges stay on the grille, but a thor­ough­bred V8 Su­per­car is driven in be­hind it.

‘‘They are only de­signed to look like a road car. They are out-and-out rac­ers,’’ says Kim Jones, the tech­ni­cal chief at the Brad Jones Rac­ing out­fit that fields Holden Com­modores for Ja­son Bright and Ja­son Richards.

‘‘We used to buy a road car, cut the roof off, in­stall a rollcage and then up­grade ev­ery­thing for rac­ing. But we haven’t done that for a long time. It’s now a cus­tom-built race­car. And that’s re­flected in the lap times and 300km/h down Con­rod Straight at Bathurst.’’

That’s also the rea­son why a V8 Su­per­car costs about $300,000. That’s 10 times more than a road­ready Fal­con or Com­modore.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent. The only things on the car that aren’t mod­i­fied are the rear-quar­ter glass in the back door and the rear wind­screen,’’ Jones adds.

‘‘The front doors look the same but we have to mod­ify them with sideim­pact pro­tec­tion and the door han­dles are mod­i­fied so the driver can open them with a sim­ple latch.’’

The changes to the Fal­con and Com­modore start from the first moment a V8 Su­per­car is cre­ated.

Work be­gins first on the rollcage, which even­tu­ally has body pan­els — many in su­per-light­weight com­pos­ites and car­bon fi­bre these days— tacked to the out­side.

Be­cause the Ford and Holden must use the same chas­sis di­men­sions a range of ba­sic body pan­els, in­clud­ing the back doors and roof, are mas­saged.

‘‘The Com­modore back doors are six inches shorter than the road car. Same for the roof,’’ Jones says.

It’s the same with the sus­pen­sion and brakes. And ev­ery car in the V8 Su­per­car field rolls on 17 by 10-inch al­loy wheels fit­ted with iden­ti­cal Dun­lop slick rac­ing tyres.

‘‘Both cars have a live rear axle and dou­ble-wish­bone front sus­pen­sion and the brakes are con­trolled,’’ Jones says.

One point of dif­fer­ence— be­tween the ri­val brands and also the road cars — is their en­gines.

Both are 5-litre V8s, tweaked for rac­ing to about 650 horse­power, and nei­ther shares any­thing with a Com­modore or Fal­con.

The ba­sic cylin­der blocks come from the US and most of the other com­po­nents are de­signed-for-rac­ing parts.

The gear­box is a six-speed rac­ing unit built by the Holinger com­pany, with a mo­tor­cy­cle-style se­quen­tial shift that elim­i­nates the H-pat­tern changes of a road car.

The driver just pulls back to change up to the next gear or pushes for­ward to down­shift.

The deeper you drill, the more dif­fer­ences you find.

‘‘We even change the mo­tor for the wind­screen wiper. It’s from a Mercedes-Benz truck, be­cause you need lots of ex­tra power when you’re rac­ing in a down­pour.

‘‘We even make our own steer­ing racks. We keep the crash pad at the

top of the dash­board, but the dig­i­tal dash­board is a rac­ing unit made by Pi in the UK.

‘‘The rear-vi­sion mir­ror is fit­ted di­rectly to the top of the rollcage — not glued to the wind­screen like a road car.

‘‘And the screen has heat­ing el­e­ments and is fit­ted with plas­tic tearoff wipes to re­move grime.’’

The driver sits in a cus­tom-made rac­ing bucket seat and is con­nected to a ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem that pumps air di­rectly into the hel­met.

‘‘There is a six-point rac­ing har­ness and ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tion di­rect to the crew in the pits.

‘‘It’s all about be­ing com­pet­i­tive. You have to build a proper race­car,’’ Jones says.

‘‘But we still want the fans to iden­tify with the cars so we make them look like a Com­modore or a Fal­con.

‘‘There has to be some rel­e­vance for or­di­nary peo­ple, and Aus­tralians love their Hold­ens and Fords.

‘‘The pun­ters don’t care. No­body re­ally notices.

‘‘They bar­rack for their favourites and for their hero driv­ers.’’

Bright fu­ture: Ja­son Bright poses with INXS band mem­ber Karl Reindler in the ‘‘of­fice’’ of his V8 Su­per­car.

Holden’s hero: Ja­son Richards driv­ing Holden’s race­track rep­u­ta­tion in a Brad Jones Rac­ing ‘‘Com­modore’’.

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