Of the members that make up the Supercars Hall of Fame, there are countless numbers of championship titles, Bathurst victories and Australian Touring Car Championship/Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race wins between them all.
So it’s strange to understand how it can be that one of its esteemed members is a Hall of Famer with just one single Supercars Championship race win to his name.
But when you know that person is the late, great Jason Richards, it all makes compete and total sense when the wider context of his life, his approach to his illness and contribution to the sport on the whole is taken into account.
Five years ago today – December 15, 2011 – the Supercars and wider Australasian sporting community received the news it knew was coming but could never really prepare for; Jason Richards was gone.
The colourful, energetic racer had attacked his rare cancer the same way he drove in 133 championship rounds and 283 races – totally 100 percent flat throttle.
In a Supercars career spanning 12 seasons with Team Kiwi, Team Dynamik, Tasman Motorsport and Brad Jones Racing, Richards established himself as a fast, brave and committed racing driver.
But when he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer in late 2010, it instantly became apparent the native of Nelson in New Zealand was much more than a special driver, in fact a very special man.
The racing community ran fundraisers and a range of special events to raise money to support one of its most popular figures and his ongoing treatments for the disease that took him at the age of just 35.
Today he’s celebrated via the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy for the driver that scores the most points at the Pukekohe round in his native New Zealand.
First won by Richards’ Team BOC teammate Jason Bright in 2013, it has since been claimed by Mark Winterbottom (2014), Richards’ former Tasman teammate Jamie Whincup (2015) and the first Kiwi winner of the special trophy, Shane van Gisbergen, this year.
The ‘JR Star’ is also an ever-present reminder of the Kiwi’s time at Brad Jones Racing with each of the team’s race cars carrying the sticker on the B-pillar of each of its Supercar racing fleet.
Five years have passed since Jason Richards left us, but his memory and legacy will live on for many years to come in the paddock and pit lane of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.