Saturday Sleuthing: The Brock/Moffat Commodore

  • 04/04/2015
  • By V8 Sleuth
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Peter Brock and Allan Moffat were rivals for years but Australian racing fans must have thought hell had frozen over when the Holden and Ford icons paired up in 1986.

They formed a team for an assault on the European Touring Car Championship and its jewel - the Spa 24 Hour in Belgium - before returning to Australia for the annual Sandown and Bathurst classics.

Moffat famously crashed their #05 Mobil Commodore in practice at Bathurst that year, coming unbelievably close to launching over the wall approaching Skyline and prompting an all-night rebuild job for the Holden Dealer Team.

We've had countless numbers of emails over the last few years since Saturday Sleuthing kicked off asking what happened to the car that these two Bathurst icons drove together the one and only time they shared a car in the 1000-kilometre classic.

Our V8 Sleuth Aaron Noonan is thrilled to say he's now found it - and it's way out west!

But first, let's recap the car and its achievements in a racing life at the top level that amounted to less than a full racing season.

After competing in Europe, the Brock/Moffat combination had their first race on Australian soil in the BP 300 endurance race at the old Surfers Paradise Raceway in 1986 and it could very well have been here where this new car debuted - things are slightly foggy on this but all signs suggest it did.

The 'dream team' definitely drove it at the Sandown 500 a few weeks later where they finished fourth. The race is well remembered by our V8 Sleuth given it was the first race meeting he ever attended as a kid!

Brock and Moffat then went to Bathurst with the car, only for Moffat to crash on Friday in practice that prompted an all-night repair job for the Holden Dealer Team crew.

The Ford legend made a very simple mistake, dropping the right rear tyre into the verge on the exit of McPhillamy Park. The Holden flicked across the road and smacked the concrete barrier head-on, very nearly launching over the wall and promptly breaking a bone in Moffat's hand.

Instantly the project to repair the car and get it onto the grid for Sunday's race swung into action. The smashed chassis was sent straight to the Holden dealer in Bathurst itself and a show car in Melbourne raided for parts to be sent up.

Being sponsored by Australian Airlines helped too - reportedly the airline held up a Sydney-bound flight at Melbourne Airport so the parts could make the plane!

Virtually everything from the firewall forward was removed and replaced on the #05 Commodore and just under 24 hours after the accident, Brock himself drove the race car back to the circuit with a police escort!

Brock and Moffat were allocated 11th on the grid given the car was a non-starter in Saturday morning's Top 10 Shootout but that didn't slow the then-eight time race winner.

Within three laps Brock had sliced from 11th to run second behind eventual winner Allan Grice, proving the repaired Commodore was just as good as before Moffat's accident.

Ultimately they would wind up finishing fifth, delayed by six-odd minutes after splitting an oil cooler on the notorious speed humps then in place in the pit lane.

Brock rounded out the season driving the car solo in a 300-kilometre endurance race at Calder where he finished second before failing to finish at the Adelaide Grand Prix F1 support race.

The VK model #05 Commodore returned for the first part of 1987 with Brock and Moffat claiming their second straight win the season-opening Wellington 500 street race in New Zealand.

They also competed at Pukekohe's 500-kilometre and finished third - which turned out to be an historic event given it was the last time the factory-backed Holden Dealer Team competed.

In late February came news of Brock and Holden busting up. The iconic manufacturer withdrew backing of Brock's HDT Special Vehicles business and race team, leaving him to solider on as a privateer with loyal backer Mobil.

He drove this car in the opening two rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship at Calder and Symmons Plains before new teammate Gary Scott crashed it during private practice for the next round at Lakeside.

Eventually it was repaired and updated to the newer VL model bodywork for then Channel 7 commentator Neil Crompton to make his team debut in later that year at the Pepsi 250 at Oran Park with Jon Crooke.

The duo finished fourth at Sandown too with this car going to Bathurst purely as a display car in the merchandise area. It was not the #10 car that won that year's race in the hands of Brock, Peter McLeod and David Parsons.

The ex-Brock/Moffat car made its last race start with Mobil HDT in Parsons' hands at the Adelaide F1 Grand Prix support race in '87 before being sold off to Western Australian Bill Lee as Brock's team swapped to BMWs.

Third owner Dennis Norgard raced the car in state level competition at Wanneroo (now Barbagallo) Raceway in Perth, including in the 1989 ATCC round at the circuit.

The car was solid to its current owners in the late 1990s and our V8 Sleuth caught up with one of them under the condition of anonymity.

"We bought it around 16 or so years ago and took it to Barbagallo for a few private runs," V8Sleuth was told.

"We only went up there privately half a dozen or so times. It still runs a five-litre V8 and we've done nothing to modify it.

"Other than start it up, give it a polish, detail it and put it in the occasional car show on display it hasn't done any further work and is in the livery as we bought it.

"We had it on display at a local Holden dealer for a function that Brock was attending. He signed the transmission tunnel and we ended up having a bit of a chat and his recollections of the car seemed to gel with what we had found out."

The owners have a great piece of Bathurst and Brock history and are actually willing to part with it if the price is right. We might have to raid the V8 Sleuth piggy bank to see what we can put together!

Either way, it's a great piece of Brock, Holden, Bathurst and HDT racing history and finding that car has been another satisfying story for our Sleuth.


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