Lowndes was brought into the fold for the 1994 endurance races as a last-minute replacement for Swede Rickard Rydell, who elected to remain at home with his pregnant wife.
Lowndes finished second on his Bathurst debut in 1994
The original deal struck in August for Sandown 1994 included testing, promotional appearances and a co-driving option for ‘95, as well as first play on his services for ’96.
After a strong debut at Sandown in 1994, Lowndes was retained for Bathurst, where a starring performance led to a re-write of the original deal from just six weeks earlier.
The changes ensured Lowndes would remain part of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing group, even if he elected to chase his dream of Formula 1.
“To have acted so quickly to sign Craig up in August '94 to the end of 1996 and locking him in exclusively was certainly one of our team’s better moves,” Crennan reflected.
After sweeping the championship, Sandown and Bathurst with HRT in 1996, Lowndes spent a single year in European Formula 3000, underwritten by HSV to a figure approaching $1million.
While that failed to produce results, Lowndes returned to HRT in 1998, winning the following two titles, before opting to head to Ford for 2001.
Lowndes and Walkinshaw announcing the termination of the 10-year deal in 2001
Crennan says he and Lowndes “never had a cross word” during the divorce, which was complicated by a 10-year driver management agreement held with Walkinshaw.
“Whether my prediction comes true or not about this not being Craig’s last full season in Supercars, he deserves every compliment and accolade coming his way pre and post the last race at Newcastle on November 25th,” Crennan surmised.
“The electronic scoreboard would not be big enough to cover it all.
“Champion of the track, Champion of modesty, Champion of diplomacy, Champion of even temperament, Champion of decency, Champion of positive communications, Champion of the constant smile, Champion role model.”