Supercar racing has made a range of visits to overseas venues in recent years but its first (and so far only) trip to the Shanghai International Circuit in China in 2005 is one that Ford star Mark Winterbottom won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Back then ‘Frosty’ was in his second year in the Supercars Championship driving an Orrcon-backed Falcon BA for Mark Larkham’s team. He’d qualified 24th in the 32 car field and was running in a similar position in the early laps until the unthinkable occurred.
A metal grate weighing 20 kilograms and measuring 24 x 48 centimetres had been dislodged by another car exiting turn five in front of Winterbottom, leaving it popped up and exposed to oncoming traffic.
Winterbottom’s Falcon hit the grate at 130km/h, slicing right through the front splitter and hitting the engine sump and radiator. But more frightening was the fact that the grate sliced through the floor of the car, impacting with the bottom and rear of his race seat before gauging a hole right behind it.
Put simply, Winterbottom was a lucky boy not to be seriously injured. The gauge in the floor of the car at the time was measured at 20 x 80 centimetres and the impact had sliced the roll bar cross member in half!
“It made a huge thud inside the car but I didn't feel the brunt of the impact as it lifted my car of the ground," said Winterbottom at the time.
“I knew it had done a fair bit of damage but it wasn't until we got the car back to the garage that I had a look in the back of the car and seen how much damage was done inside the car.”
So today on Saturday Sleuthing we’re looking back on what became of this Orrcon Falcon and the great news is that it’s survived and has remained active in recent years.
This particular car was the second BA Falcon built by Larkham’s team and debuted in Winterbottom’s hands at Albert Park in 2004 in his debut with the squad. He ran this car for the entire season, except for the Sandown and Bathurst endurance events where Larkham and Matt Halliday drove it.
In fact, this car provided Larkham’s farewell to V8 Supercar racing, his run at Bathurst in this car his last start in the category as a driver, 11th place a solid result.
Winterbottom ran this car as the #20 Orrcon car again in 2005 and after its accident in China it was stripped and returned to Logan Village Smash Repairs, who replaced sections of the roll bars and floor.
It didn’t miss an event in the aftermath of the accident and was driven by ‘Frosty’ for the remainder of the season with Halliday and Swiss ace Alain Menu given it to drive as car #10 for Sandown and Bathurst.
Larkham Motorsport merged with Craig Gore’s WPS Racing for 2006 and its equipment was sold with this car sold to Shannon O’Brien’s squad, which had moved into the Super2 Series (then known as the Fujitsu Series).
It was retained as a spare and later that year leased to Paul Cruickshank Racing for Marcus Marshall to drive under the Glenfords Racing banner after damage to his regular car at Bathurst had meant it would be sidelined for the rest of the season.
The late Jim Morton acquired this car for his Ford Rising Stars Racing program in the Super2 Series in 2007 with Grant Denyer at the helm (though former Formula Ford racer Daniel Elliott filled in for a few rounds due to his TV commitments) before it was then sold to Image Racing’s Terry Wyhoon.
He ran it at Bathurst in the Super2 Series in a one-off run in 2008 before it was driven by Ben McCashney in the 2009 series. Wyhoon got back behind the wheel in the Kumho V8 Touring Cars Series in 2010 and his team ran it for driver Michael Hector in 2011 and 2012.
Oran Park, 2007
Melbourne’s Russell Pilven purchased the car in 2013 and ran it in Sports Sedans at that year’s Bathurst 12 Hour support event as well as a Kumho V8 round at Winton later that year and since then the ex-Frosty Falcon has lay idle.
“That was the last time it ran and it’s been off having a pretty big birthday in recent times,” Pilven told our V8 Sleuth this week.
“It’s now got a sequential gearbox in it and a new loom is being done for it too. I have put it into a full Tyrepower livery now as we placed it on display for Tyrepower’s 40th anniversary conference earlier this year.
“I’m hoping to have it out next in September for the V8 Touring Car round at Phillip Island.”
Saturday Sleuthing will take next weekend off for the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint, but will return on Saturday August 5 with another great story covering the history of an interesting car from the career of ‘The Dude’ Paul Morris.
If you have a car you’d like to see featured by our V8 Sleuth this year, send him an email here or visit the website here to get in contact.