Jack Perkins will mark 20 years since his father Larry’s sixth and final Bathurst 1000 victory with a tribute helmet at next weekend’s Great Race.
The now Mobil 1 HSV co-driver was 11 years old when his father won the 1997 race alongside Russell Ingall, capping a run of three wins in five years for the Castrol team.
Jack ran his father’s famous green and gold helmet colours at a handful of events in 2010 to mark 15 years since the Bathurst ’95 triumph and says he’s pleased to recognise another anniversary.
“Twenty years on from the ’97 race, we thought this would be a pretty cool thing to do,” Perkins, who’ll team with James Courtney next week, told Supercars.com.
“We’ve made sure the colour match on this one is perfect and it’s great that a sponsor like Hog’s Breath would change their logo to fit in with the scheme.
“The 1997 win was obviously the one where I was oldest, so I remember it a little more, but the process for all of them was the same.
Larry Perkins on the way to victory in 1997. pic: AN1 Images
“Dad was busy at work for months before the race, building a new car and a new engine. He crashed at the press day that year, so they had to re-shell the car.
“In the race they had speed but a lot of others had reliability issues. Being his last one it’s pretty special, so it’s great to pay tribute to it.”
Jack has immersed himself in the history of his father’s race team, which bowed out of Supercars when its assets were sold to the Kelly family at the end of 2008.
Father and son Perkins share a workshop in Melbourne’s west, where the youngster services racing customers and Larry, 67, tinkers with his various projects.
Three famous race cars – the 1993 Bathurst winner, the ’94 Bathurst third-place getter and Larry’s final Bathurst car from ’03 – are all currently being restored in the workshop.
“Perkins Engineering is essentially my 9-5 job, restoring the race cars and looking after the various Perkins customers that are out there,” explained Jack.
“There are 198 engines and 49 cars out there, so there’s 200 customers to look after, which keeps me pretty busy.
“Dad helps out, I had him on the lathe the other day making some bits for the ’93 car we’re restoring, but he’s busy with other things.
“He’s got a Unimog and a Land Cruiser ute that he does a bit with and he’s also restoring some ’40s and ‘50s Land Rovers, which all keeps him pretty busy.”
While Larry will not attend Bathurst this year, Jack’s focus is on writing his own name into the race’s history books.
In 12 previous starts Jack has finished a best of eighth three times and, despite the Mobil 1 HSV team’s tough season to date, is hopeful of finding the podium this time around.
“I think if the day pans out with a few things going our way we can be right there,” he said.
“Obviously you want to be showing a bit more form through the year to be seen as an outright contender, but unlike the AFL every team gets to play in our grand final.
“We’re going there with a team that’s won the race before and James is very much proven in the category. We’re going there with our sights set on the podium.
“We’ve got good straight line speed and we’re back on a different tyre, so it is wide open. We’ve just got to do our best and make sure we’re there at the end of Sunday.”