Anew decade saw yet another new direction for super-sub Stewart, the beginning of a long standing relationship with wealthy Sydney privateer Bob Pearson and his Pro-Duct Air Conditioning VL ‘Walkinshaw’ Commodore.
In 1990 a broken clutch cable cost the Pro-Duct Commodore a potential top 10 Bathurst result. They nished 15th on 147 laps. In 1991 Pearson crashed on top of the mountain after 46 laps.
Pearson missed 1992 while a new Perkins Engineering VP Commodore (PE016) was built up. This beautiful black Commodore had its nest moment in 1993 when Pearson/Stewart nished a strong 10th overall. Stewart remembers the Commodore running strongly all day.
Business commitments precluded Pearson from running at Bathurst in 1994 and the veterans had an early shower in the 1995 Tooheys 1000, when their engine succumbed to broken valve springs, a common affliction for Perkins Engineering customer cars that year.
Another year was missed before Pearson returned in 1997 with a new VR Commodore and a new co-driver. Stewart remembers what transpired.
“Allan McCarthy bought the drive with Bob (Pearson) for Bathurst. Bob wasn’t convinced that McCarthy would be able to qualify so he asked me to run with him. I practised and quali ed the car but it only last 43 laps in the race and I didn’t get a drive.”
So Stewart’s 27th and last Bathurst 1000 start turned out to be a non-event.
When you’ve done so many laps of Mount Panorama, it stands to reason that Stewart would get an opportunity to do many more in Bathurst 12 Hours (and 24 Hour) over the years. His best result was in the inaugural 12 Hour in ‘91. Teamed with Colin Bond and John Smith in a Caltex sponsored Toyota MR2 he nished sixth outright.
With Bob Pearson’s Pro-Duct team, Stewart competed in the 2002 twice-round-the-clock event in a Mazda RX7 Twin Turbo, before running the 2007 and 2009 12 Hours in Mitsubishi Lancer EVOs. Bruce has also contested production car races as recently as 2015, where he broke the lap record at Sydney Motorsport Park in a Lancer EVO X!
Not a bad way to celebrate 50 years of enduro racing. Not that his racing has stopped there. Racing has always been a family affair for the Stewarts, with son Darren racing sports sedans.
“We’ve competed in Group N with an EH Holden and a Torana XU1, which we still have and both race. We’ve also shared a Nissan Pulsar in the Four Hour Cheap Car Challenge at the Marulan Driver Training Centre for a bit of fun.
“I’m not thinking of hanging up my helmet any time soon.”
1993 Stewart teamed up with Bob Pearson in the 1990s, making his last appearance in the Great Race in 1997. But that was far from his last Bathurst start, as Stewart joined Pearson in the latter’s Bathurst 12 and 24 Hour campaigns. At 78, supersub...