Australian motorsport television pioneer Peter Williamson has passed away this morning in Taree due to health complications.
He was 78 years of age.
The long-time Toyota driver carved himself a famous place in the history of the Bathurst 1000 when he became the first driver to carry an in-car camera ‘Racecam’ system in the 1979 race.
It was the first time live pictures from an in-car camera had been used successfully in a motorsports television coverage anywhere in the world - paving the way for today’s modern V8 Supercars Championship broadcasts.
Synonymous with driving Toyotas, Williamson made 12 starts in the Bathurst 500/1000 between 1964 and 1985, primarily behind the wheel of Coronas, Celicas and Supras.
He won his class with co-driver Mike Quinn in the famous 1979 race in which he carried the in-car camera (finishing an impressive ninth outright) and repeated it in 1981 in a Celica with John Smith.
Williamson was involved in the infamous start line accident that caused the 1984 Bathurst 1000 to be stopped on the first lap, his new Group A Supra smashed in an incident involving the stranded Jaguar of the late Scot Tom Walkinshaw.
Williamson also gave V8 Supercars Hall of Famer and FOX Motorsport TV host/commentator Mark Skaife his first touring car drive in a Toyota Supra in the 1986 Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 endurance races, 30 years ago this year.
“He was a big part of Sydney’s racing culture,” Skaife told v8supercars.com today.
“He was a really established great car dealer of the day, one of Toyota’s biggest of the era and he linked his dealership with the cars he raced.
“As an extension of that, in the history of the sport he was the pioneer of the Racecam coverage. In the history of the sport he was the best bloke at chatting while driving.
“Dick (Johnson) was very good at it too but ‘Willo’ was the pioneer of it and brought the viewer into the driver’s seat. He was a real showman and brought it to life.
“My Dad (Russell) raced against him so we knew him realty well. Peter gave me my first run in touring car racing in 1986 and I was his co-driver at Bathurst that year.
“As it turned out he had a big crash in early practice and we were out for the weekend.
“I have always had a great relationship and the utmost of respect for him – he was a larger than life character and a great car guy. The deepest sympathies of the entire industry are with his family.”
Williamson’s funeral service will be held next week.