What's In A Number - The Number 55

  • 16/04/2015
  • By V8 Supercars
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

OUR series of stories on the numbers used by drivers in the V8 Supercars Championship has covered the numbers 2, 18 and 15 and today we've gone further down the number list to analyse the number 55.

Thesedays the number is linked to The Bottle-O Ford pilot David Reynolds and Prodrive Racing Australia co-owner Rod Nash.

Reynolds has driven the #55 Falcon for Nash since 2012 and prior to that Paul Dumbrell campaigned it in 2010 and 2011 after Nash moved his Racing Entitlements Contract across to the factory Ford team.

It's a number that holds a lot of history both for Nash and in Australian touring car racing on the whole.

Many V8 Supercar fans beleive that Nash's car runs #55 simply because PRA (formerly Ford Performance Racing) has had #5 since it purchased Glenn Seton Racing in late 2002 and the addition of The Bottle-O car to the team's fold five years ago meant another number was required and hence, two 'fives' make 55.

But this is actually not the case - the #55 has been with Nash ever since he debuted in V8 Supercars back in 1998 after purchasing an ex-Wayne Gardner Coke Commodore.

V8supercars.com.au caught up with the PRA co-owner this week and he recalled to us that #55 was not actually his first choice.

"My number in speedway racing was #12 so when I hooked up with John Faulkner and Les Small in late 1997/early 1998 to go into V8 Supercars and bought the Gardner car, the first thing I said I wanted was #12," Nash recalls.

"But I couldn't have it at the time. It wasn't available, someone had it. So I prioritised everything around the number and the only attractive number that was available was 55.

"We were just pulling out some photos the other day of that car from when we first ran it. It was white with red rear guards - it was bloody ugly to say the least! But it was what it was at the time.

"So it didn't have any real significance, it just was because 55 was the next number that caught my eye. Funnily enough, I just turned 55 actually a few weeks ago - so I guess it's fitting!"

There was a time that Nash ran two cars in the V8 Supercars Championship and campaigned himself infrequently in #55 in 2000 as teammate to Cam McConville, who adopted #54.

Nash shared #55 at Bathurst with a very young Paul Dumbrell in 2000 though clutch problems took them out of the race very early.

Nash parked the #55 number between 2001 and 2005, though still retained the rights to it. He used #54 in his final V8 Supercar start at Bathurst in 2001 (Tony Longhurst drove for RNR in all rounds bar the enduros) and the number continued in play in 2002 with RNR rebranded Team Brock with Peter Brock and Ron Harrop as partners and Craig Baird driving.

Nash later ran his REC out of FPR (2003) and then as part of Larry Perkins' team (2004-2005).

The #55 returned in 2006 and 2007 when Nash linked up with Marty Brant's Independent Race Cars, running an ex-Paul Morris Commodore for Steve Owen with Autobarn backing.

Then his REC found another home at Tony D'Alberto Racing in 2008 and 2009 for TDR's graduation into the V8 Supercars Championship before finally moving on to its current home with PRA.

The #55 was onboard The Bottle-O Falcon when Paul Dumbrell broke through for his first V8SC race win at Sandown in 2010 and also for David Reynolds and Dean Canto's win on the Gold Coast in 2013.

1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve was behind the wheel of #55 when he joined the team on the Gold Coast in 2010 and former Red Bull/Jaguar F1 pilot Christian Klien drove it in 2011 at the same event.

But the 1967 retro livery run by the team at Bathurst in 2012 when it finished second - including the 52D number of the 1967-winning Falcon GT in place of the regular #55 - means that #55 has never finished on the podium at Bathurst.

In fact, it's never finished better than fifth - a result achieved by Troy Dunstan and Steve Harrington in Advantage Racing's Quix Commodore in 1993.

Nash has had three top 10 finishes at Bathurst with #55 (6th in 2007 with Owen/D'Alberto, 7th in 2006 with Owen/Tony Longhurst and 10th in 2008 with D'Alberto/Andrew Thompson).

The #55 has history in the Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercars Championship that goes all the way back to the first race at Gnoo-Blas in 1960.

Jerry Trevor-Jones finished 12th in an Austin Lancer - things have sure moved on since then!

Barry Seton regularly used the #55 on his V6 Capri in the mid 1970s and fellow Capri driver and occasional co-driver Don Smith also raced with it at times.

When Nissan arrived in touring car racing with its Bluebird Turbos in late 1981, the factory team assumed 55 and 56 for their pair of cars.

George Fury ran #55 alongside Fred Gibson at Bathurst in 1981 and 1982 and in the ATCC in 1982 and 1983, though was never able to crack it for a race win.

He scored four ATCC podium finishes in the #55 Nissan without being able to stand on the top step of the podium.

However, #55 really could have won the ATCC in 1983 with Fury as the Bluebird pilot led the series going into the last round at Lakeside.

However the Nissan team opted to miss the round in order to prepare for the upcoming endurance races, handing the title on a silver platter to Mazda's Allan Moffat!

When Barry Seton's son Glenn made his debut in touring cars in 1983, the #55 was waiting for him and the father and son combination raced together at Bathurst that year with the number on their yellow Capri.

Seton Jnr made his ATCC debut the next year at the old Surfers Paradise and, with the Nissan Bluebirds moved into the outright class rather than being in the 2000-3000cc class and thus moved up the number list, #55 was open for Seton to use on his debut.

It made a return in the endurance races in 1985 at Sandown and Bathurst with Robbie Francevic and John Bowe driving the now-infamous Volvo 240 Turbo for Mark Petch before disappearing again for a few years.

Privateers Kevin Waldock (1989/1990 on his Playscape Sierra) and David 'Truckie' Parsons (1995-1997) also became custodians of the #55 in the ATCC/V8SC before Rod Nash picked it up from 1998 onwards.

While #55 hasn't been a 'big time' number with scores of race wins and any championship victories, it has certainly had an interesting history in Aussie tin top racing.

#55 Bathurst Fast Facts

Kiwi ace Paul Radisich used the #55 in his Bathurst 1000 debut. The two-time FIA Touring Car World Cup winner debuted in 1988 in a BMW M3 alongside Ludwig Finauer and the duo finished a delayed 19th - the last classified finisher.

Nissan enduro driver David Russell also made his Bathurst 1000 debut with the #55. He drove a Fujitsu-backed Falcon with Jose Fernandez in 2003 however the duo was not classified as finishers as they had not completed enough laps.
Russell's father Geoff also raced as #55 at Bathurst in 1979 in an Escort alongside Geoff Mein.

The #55 was used in the very first Armstrong 500 at Bathurst, which of course we now know as the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. Don Holland and Lindsay Little finished 20th overall and second in class in their Morris Mini 850!

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