May 20 marks the 40th birthday of 2015 series champion Mark Winterbottom, who is competing in his 18th straight main game campaign.
Winterbottom has joined fellow series champion James Courtney in the ’40 club’, with Courtney turning 40 last year.
The Team 18 driver is currently sixth overall, having left the Repco Mt Panorama 500 season opener third in the points.
Winterbottom is ninth all-time on the race winners list, having won 38 races.
He is the second-most successful Ford driver, behind only Scott McLaughlin.
Winterbottom claimed all 38 wins in Falcons, and all with Tickford Racing, his first coming at Sandown in 2006.
On a special day for the aptly-nicknamed ‘Frosty’, Supercars.com has listed Winterbottom’s five key victories in his 539-race career.
5) Perfect in Perth: Race 9, 2016
A day after battling to 22nd, Winterbottom bounced back in brilliant fashion, turning a risky two-stop strategy into a thrilling victory in a thriller.
Having said his previous day’s performance was one of the “worst days I’ve had in a while”, Winterbottom hailed his Sunday triumph as a genuine career highlight.
“You hate making mistakes, I get real dirty on myself for making mistakes,” he said after his Sunday breakthrough, where he defeated a rampant Scott McLaughlin.
“It’s not massive, you hit a puddle or whatever, but the consequence was huge.
“To do that [on Sunday], when you have to drive to numbers, you have to use your mind a lot. It’s very hard to get the most out of the tyre for the whole stint, and not get drawn into battles.
“So it’s definitely up there for wins, just because how strategic I had to drive the car. And it’s been, what, seven months [since the last win]. So that also makes it special as well.”
4) Tassie thriller: Race 22, 2010
Winterbottom’s 2010 win at Symmons Plains is one of his most underrated successes.
His only win in Tasmania, where he has a perfect finishing record, came after he defied a racy Jason Bright.
The wet-dry thriller saw several key runners slip up; Winterbottom nearly threw it away early on as he wrestled with Bright.
3) Hanging on in Hamilton: Race 6, 2012
Nine years ago, Winterbottom defeated long-time rival Jamie Whincup in the final race on the streets of Hamilton.
Whincup closed a three-second margin over the final 10 laps to push Winterbottom all the way.
Both drivers pushed their cars to the limit, and it was the blue Orrcon Falcon which emerged on top in a stunning finish.
"It’s obviously nice to finish the last time here with a win, and to get the lap record as well I’ve had a pretty special day,” Winterbottom said after the race.
"I was just trying to get to the end really… I knew it was going to be on."
2) Hidden Valley heroics: Race 19, 2014
Starting 10th, Winterbottom had it all to do in the 2014 Darwin finale.
By race’s end, he had sealed a win which he claimed came in a better drive than his Bathurst win in 2013.
In the final laps at Hidden Valley, Winterbottom repelled both Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen.
"It was an incredible race, different strategies certainly played a part," he said.
"In terms of my performance I feel I drove better than Bathurst. There was only a two dog battle at Bathurst and here there was three.
"It just felt like you got every inch out of the car whereas you never really feel that way at Bathurst. If you do you end up in the fence."
1) Bathurst breakthrough: Race 29, 2013
It took a decade, but Winterbottom finally claimed an elusive Bathurst 1000 victory, holding off Whincup in a breathtaking finish.
Whincup loomed to win a fifth Bathurst classic as he ranged on the outside of Winterbottom at Griffin’s Bend.
Winterbottom held firm, and held on to clinch what remains his greatest race victory.
Prior to the win, Winterbottom hadn’t even scored a Great Race podium, despite taking pole in 2007 and 2010.
Notably, he lost the 2007 race while leading late on, when he slid off the track at The Chase with 13 laps remaining.
"That was insane,” he said after the race.
"This is incredible, we've been trying so hard for this. I made a little mistake and I really wanted to repay my team.
"This is awesome. We've finally done it."
Winterbottom will continue his 2021 campaign at the Winton SuperSprint across May 28-30. Tickets are available here.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus. Check out the weekend schedule here.