Kelly era produces rare winning feat

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 28/07/2021
  • By James Pavey

The Kelly family achieved much in their two-decade-plus stint in Supercars, with their involvement stepping up a gear in 2021.

The Braeside operation last year, thanks to Andre Heimgartner in Sydney, claimed poles with three different manufacturers.

In May, Heimgartner won from the pole in the OTR SuperSprint opener, helping the Kellys to wins with three different manufacturers.

On Monday, it was confirmed that the Kellys will sell their remaining stake in the team to the Groves at season’s end.

The Groves arrived in 2021, and it took just eight races to see the team hit the front once more.

This time, it was Heimgartner in a Ford Mustang, the Kiwi ending his own 161-race winless drought to become the 81st different race winner in ATCC/Supercars history.

Kelly Racing was born out of the HSV Dealer Team and Perkins Engineering in 2009, but the team had to wait until April 2011 to taste victory.

That day, in Hamilton, 2006 series champion Rick Kelly led older brother Todd in an historic one-three result, with Rick scoring wins in Darwin and Sandown.

Those wins came in Holden Commodores, a year after Rick took the team’s first pole position at Winton.

In 2013, the team became a factory-backed Nissan outfit, and the Japanese marque returned to the winners’ circle via James Moffat, also at Winton.

Moffat then claimed the team's first Nissan pole at Queensland Raceway in 2014, but finished the race in fifth.

The team had to wait two more years until it returned to the top step courtesy of Michael Caruso in Darwin.

Moffat led Caruso at Winton in 2013, the team's first Nissan win

Two more years passed before Rick Kelly claimed the team's third and final Nissan win, again at Winton.

Last year, Heimgartner helped the team to pole aboard his Ford, with V8 Sleuth revealing that Bob Jane and Fred Gibson's teams were the only others to take poles for three different manufacturers.

Fast forward to May earlier this year, and Heimgartner steered his NED Whisky Mustang to the Race 8, helping the Kellys complete a winning manufacturer trifecta.

Just three teams in history have achieved the winning feat, and the first to do so won with four marques.

Jane at Calder Park in 1971 Pic: AN1 Images

Jane took pole and won in Jaguars in the sole ATCC events in 1962 and 1963, before winning the 1971 and 1972 titles aboard a Chevrolet Camaro.

Jane himself also took pole in a Mustang at Sandown in 1965, and won in a Ford Mustang at Calder Park in 1969.

In 1978, Ian Geoghegan helped the Jane squad to victory in a Holden Torana A9X at Sandown in 1978.

Tony Longhurst's team was the second team to achieve the winning feat.

Longhurst at Lakeside in 1991 Pic: AN1 Images

Longhurst won at Lakeside in 1988 aboard a Freeport-backed Ford Sierra, before a successful switch to BMW in 1991.

Longhurst campaigned a Perkins-sourced Commodore VP for the 1994 season prior to a shift back to Ford.

He duly won the first race of the weekend in Perth, which hosted the penultimate round of the season.

Along with Jane and Longhurst, Fred Gibson did it all in Nissans, Holdens and Fords.

Skaife at Sandown in 1994 Pic: AN1 Images

Gibson's eponymous team won 47 races and claimed 28 poles. Between 1986 and 1992, Gibson Motorsport Skylines were the cars to beat.

With turbo cars banned at the end of 1992, Gibson shifted to Commodores, with Mark Skaife winning the 1994 title.

Skaife also claimed poles across the 1993 and 1994 seasons, before Gibson made a shock move to Ford in 2001.

Craig Lowndes steered a Gibson Falcon AU to victory in Adelaide in the third race of the season, before he claimed pole at Oran Park later in the season.

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