With the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 now only a week away, today on Saturday Sleuthing we complete our exploration of the cars that Peter Brock drove to victory in Australia’s most famous race.
Last week we looked at Brock’s four wins in Toranas in 1972, 1975, 1978 and 1979 and this week we conclude with the four Commodores he used to win the final five of his record nine wins in the October classic.
At Bathurst next week Supercars will commemorate the 10th anniversary of his passing and the introduction of the Peter Brock Trophy with a special display of his racecars covering a wide range of his illustrious career.
Back in 1980, revised rules for touring car racing saw the ultra-successful Torana benched in favour of Holden’s new four-door family Commodore – but that didn’t stop Brock from winning Bathurst.
After dominating the 1980 Australian Touring Car Championship in his VB Commodore, Brock took a new and mildly face-lifted VC Commodore to Bathurst for its Mountain debut.
Again joined by 1978 and ’79 winning co-driver Jim Richards, Brock benefitted from Dick Johnson’s famous incident with a rock to complete the first hat trick of Bathurst wins and take the first of many victories for the Commodore.
Brock raced the 1980 Bathurst-winning car in the epic 1981 championship, culminating in a last round decider at Lakeside in Queensland decided in Johnson’s favour.
The car was turned over to his HDT teammate John Harvey for the 1981 endurance races before later being sold to Melbourne privateer Jim Keogh, who raced it at Bathurst in 1983 and ’84.
Later it was converted into an AUSCAR and raced on the Calder Park Thunderdome in super speedway racing before eventually a crash destroyed the original body shell.
Brock’s next Bathurst winner wrote its place in Bathurst history as the first car to win the race twice, taking the honours in both the 1982 and 1983 James Hardie 1000s.
Brock was joined at Bathurst by new co-driver Larry Perkins in ’82 and, despite early pace from Allan Grice in the Re-Car Commodore, Brock and Perkins took the chequered flag over a lap ahead of the second-placed Grice and Alan Browne.
In keeping with the tradition at the HDT, Brock debuted a brand new car at the start of the 1983 endurance series and the 1982 Bathurst-winner was passed to teammate Harvey to run as car #25.
Brock’s brand new car bent an engine valve in the early stages at Bathurst in 1983 so the HDT took advantage of the regulations of the era that allowed Brock to take over the #25 car in place of Harvey’s co-driver Phil Brock – Peter’s brother.
Harvey and Brock were joined in car #25 by Perkins and the trio drove on to share a unique victory - it was the first time in Bathurst race history that the winning car was piloted by three drivers.
The dual Bathurst winning car was sold at the end of the 1983 season and became the Andrew Harris privateer Kmart Commodore in 1984.
It was later restored back into HDT colours and today carries its 1982 livery and ’83 specification bodywork and is today owned by prolific Brock collector Peter Champion.
In fact, this very car will be at Bathurst next weekend to help commemorate the life and times of the nine-time race winner.
Another car special to race fans is the last of the ‘Big Bangers’, the striking orange day-glo Commodores that raced at Bathurst in 1984.
These cars marked the end of the local Group C era with international Group A rules due to be introduced for the following season.
The HDT ‘Big Banger’ dominated the 1984 Bathurst classic with Brock and Perkins leading all but 19 of the 163 laps in a flawless demonstration of the team’s professionalism.
The finishing touch was a 1-2 form finish with Brock leading home the identical HDT team car driven by John Harvey and David Parsons.
This win completed a hat trick of Bathurst wins for Brock and Perkins covering 1982-1984, the second of two hat tricks Brock achieved at the Mountain.
Obsolete for the 1985 season, both of the team’s Bathurst cars found new homes – one went to Perth and then England, later returning to Australia to be restored and it now resides in ‘Brock’s Garage’ at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.
The other has taken up permanent residence at the National Motor Racing Museum at Mount Panorama since 1985, still carrying the stone chips of ’84!
Brock’s final Bathurst win came in 1987, a year of great turmoil after his very public bust-up with Holden. He put together an assault on Bathurst with two cars; the race that year part of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship.
Brock started the race in his own #05 Mobil VL Commodore but the car’s engine let go early in the race, so he and co-driver David Parsons took over the team’s second entry that had been driven in the first stint by Peter McLeod in scenes reminiscent of the 1983 car swap.
The trio finished third on the road, later being elevated to victory when the top two-finishing Eggenberger Ford Sierras were excluded.
The #10 1987 Bathurst-winning car was later sold when Brock’s team swapped to BMWs for 1988.
It was purchased by privateer Chris Lambden and raced as the Beaurepaires Commodore in the ’88 endurance races and the 1989 Australian Touring Car Championship, though was damaged in an accident at Oran Park.
It has been through the hands of a few owners since then but now sits returned to its ’87 Bathurst specification and livery in the collector of Queensland collector David Bowden.
Saturday Sleuthing will take a break next week as all eyes turn to Mount Panorama for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 – it will return on Saturday October 15 with a story focusing on the restoration of a former Gold Coast V8 Supercar race-winning car.
If there’s a car you’d like to see featured in an upcoming story you can get in touch with the V8 Sleuth via any of the following methods:
To visit the website: www.v8sleuth.com.au