V8 bat­tle lines saw Lown­des’ life threat­ened

Bay of Plenty Times - - SPORT -

Su­per­cars leg­end Craig Lown­des has re­vis­ited a dark corner of his ca­reer when a fu­ri­ous fan made a shock­ing death threat.

The Aus­tralian rac­ing great opened up on his ca­reer ahead of his Bathurst 1000 swan song this week­end.

Lown­des is out to claim his sev­enth win at Mount Panorama as his glit­ter­ing ca­reer be­hind the wheel comes to a close. The 44-year-old will go down as one of the great­est Su­per­cars driv­ers to grace the sport in a ca­reer span­ning three decades. But it hasn’t all been clear sail­ing for the smil­ing Vic­to­rian.

Lown­des found him­self in the mid­dle of Australia’s vi­cious Holden vs Ford ri­valry when he con­tro­ver­sially jumped ship.

An ex­plo­sive start to his ca­reer saw Lown­des claim all three of his Su­per­cars ti­tles with Holden be­fore 2000, years be­fore his 30th birth­day. But by the turn of the mil­len­nium, Lown­des’ pa­tience with the Holden Rac­ing Team had run out, cit­ing “bad blood” emerg­ing within the team.

Speak­ing to sports­caster Mark Howard, Lown­des de­tailed his topsy turvy ca­reer in a tell-all in­ter­view.

“I went in there and sat with Peter (Brock) and asked what to ex­pect. He said I wouldn’t lose any­thing (swap­ping teams),” he said.

Brock told Lown­des half of Holden fans would stay loyal, while half of Ford wouldn’t ac­cept him.

“I would just smile and wave. I’m a per­son who re­ally doesn’t like con­fronta­tion.”

That was un­til one spec­ta­tor took the abuse to an ex­treme.

The three-time cham­pion re­vealed why he kept his se­cu­rity guard, Dar­ryl Reid, so close to his side.

“There was a big tall gen­tle­man who would travel with us, about six foot six, his name is Dar­ryl Reid. He was em­ployed to look af­ter me if any psy­chos wanted to put a knife in me,” he said.

“Be­cause we are so close to the fans, it could hap­pen. If some­one had a gripe or a vendetta on any­one (they had easy ac­cess).”

Lown­des said it got to a point where fel­low mo­tor rac­ing leg­end Mark Skaife called him, say­ing he had re­ceived a mes­sage say­ing: “Mark Skaife, I’m go­ing to kill you and Craig.”

“I was in Ford-land at that time. The po­lice even­tu­ally tracked his phone calls and ar­rested him, he served time in jail for it. But it was obliv­i­ous to me un­til Skaife told me the full story,” Lown­des said.

“Then Skaife was walk­ing back to his car at Queens­land Race­way, hav­ing a chat with a guy un­til he said ‘I’m the guy you put away in jail’. So he ac­tu­ally came and con­fronted Skaife, and he wasn’t happy. Noth­ing (came) of it af­ter that, but there was def­i­nitely that op­por­tu­nity.”

Lown­des en­joyed years of suc­cess with Ford be­fore his team at the time, Team Voda­fone, switched back to Holden in 2010. He cur­rently races for Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing.

Qual­i­fy­ing and the Top 10 Shootout to­day pre­cede to­mor­row’s Great Race from Mount Panorama. PHOTO / PHOTOSPORT Fox starts solidly GOLF: Ryan Fox has made a solid start to golf’s Al­fred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship pro-am tour­na­ment in Scotland. Part­ner­ing former Aus­tralian crick­eter Shane Warne, Fox has carded a one-un­der open­ing round 71 to sit in a tie for 15th, three shots off the lead.

Craig Lown­des, who is wind­ing up his full­time Su­per­cars ca­reer this week­end, has shared a dark in­ci­dent from his past.

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