Top 10 all-time Holden racing legends

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 17/03/2020
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Countless drivers have piloted Holdens during the marque’s six-decade involvement in Australian touring car racing.

Following recent news that Holden is set to close during 2020, Supercars.com counts down the Lion’s top 10 all-time legends.

The list is of course subjective, with victories for the marque weighed against loyalty and affinity with its legion of fans.

10) Norm Beechey

Beechey put Holden on the map in the Australian Touring Car Championship.

Arguably the country’s first true tin-top star, the popular Beechey scored Holden’s maiden ATCC race win in 1969 aboard a HK Monaro.

A year later, he became Holden’s first ATCC champion in the now iconic Shell-backed yellow HT, adding to the 1965 crown he’d won aboard a Ford Mustang.

Beechey’s career was relatively short and he’s kept a low-profile since, but he’s well and truly deserving of a spot among Holden’s all-time greats.

9) Jim Richards

The versatile Richards’ stellar career included major successes behind the wheel of BMWs, Nissans and even a Volvo.

But winning four Bathursts in factory Holdens earned him a place in the hearts of the Holden faithful, and on this list.

The first three came as co-driver to Peter Brock at the Holden Dealer Team from 1978-80, which included the six-lap domination of the ’79 event and the first win for Commodore a year later.

Four of his last five Bathurst starts also occurred in factory Holdens, headlined by the 2002 Holden Racing Team win with Mark Skaife.

8) Allan Grice

Like Richards, Bathurst is where Grice earned his place amongst the Holden greats, taking a pair of legendary against-the-odds wins in Commodores.

Grice was a warrior for Holden during the Group C era of the 1970s and early 80s, playing the role of underdog with the Craven Mild team against the might of Brock's polished factory outfit.

His Bathurst triumphs though both came in the Group A era – the first in 1986 with a gritty privateer effort funded by co-driver Graeme Bailey.

A second win in 1990 came with the then new Holden Racing Team, but still very much against the grain, given Holden’s struggle to compete against the imported machinery of the day.

7) Jamie Whincup

In terms of championship and race wins for the brand, Whincup is statistically Holden’s greatest ever.

Five of his seven titles and 86 of his 119 career race wins to date have come in Holdens, and he’s a real chance to add to both of those tallies before the Lion leaves the racetrack.

But having won two titles and three of his four Bathursts in Fords before moving to The General as part of Triple Eight’s switch in 2010, he’s hard to place on this list.

In short, Whincup’s achievements across both sides of the divide make him more of a Supercars great than a true Holden icon.

6) Greg Murphy

By contrast to Whincup, Murphy is almost as red-blooded as it gets, having made all of his 200 championship round starts and 21 outright class Bathurst entries in Holdens.

Bathurst is of course where Murphy truly shone, blasting onto the national scene with a win alongside Craig Lowndes at the Holden Racing Team in 1996.

He added another victory for Gibson Motorsport three years later before leading K-Mart Racing’s double in 2003 and ’04 – the former including his legendary ‘Lap of the Gods’ Shootout effort.

Murphy was also New Zealand’s first star of the Supercars era, helped enormously by a series of wins on home soil at Pukekohe, and has been a tremendous ambassador for Holden across the ditch.

5) Craig Lowndes

Like current Triple Eight stablemate Whincup, Lowndes’ achievements across both sides of the Holden/Ford divide impact his Lion legacy.

Lowndes arrived in Australian touring car racing at the Holden Racing Team in the mid-1990s as the protégé to Peter Brock, and was immediately adored by fans.

He had three titles and a Bathurst win on the board by the time he switched to Ford in 2001, which marked the highest-profile defection of the modern era.

Lowndes’ fan appeal though meant even those who didn’t follow him to Ford welcomed him back when Triple Eight made the switch in 2010, and he’s delivered four more Bathurst wins since.

4) Garth Tander

Tander is a driver that truly bleeds red, having started more championship rounds [285 and counting] for Holden than any other, never lining up with another marque.

He’s led three Bathurst-winning campaigns for the brand, including the last two for the Holden Racing Team [2009 and ‘11] under its traditional Walkinshaw-run guise.

A first Bathurst triumph came during a stint at Garry Rogers Motorsport which eventually earned him a ride with the HRT’s sister squad, the HSV Dealer Team.

Winning the 2007 title there meant he was elevated to Team Red, where he spent nine years in factory colours and, after a stint back at GRM, he’s again under the HRT brand as a Red Bull co-driver.

3) Larry Perkins

Perkins’ results and brand loyalty are both stuff of legend, winning six Bathursts in Commodores; three with Peter Brock at the HDT from 1982-84 and three for his own squad in the 1990s.

There was only a brief flirtation with Ford in 1985, where he co-drove Dick Johnson’s Mustang between a split with Brock and setting up his own operation.

Admiration for Perkins among the Holden faithful though is also for the way he went about his racing, particularly with his own Castrol-backed squad.

A masterful engineer, Perkins was a no-frills operator who provided a perfect spoiler to the slicker factory efforts; even winning Bathurst in 1993 with a Holden engine while others ran Chevs.

2) Mark Skaife

Skaife’s early success came with Nissan – scoring a title and two Bathurst wins in the early 1990s – but he eventually became the face of the HRT juggernaut during its finest days.

He was in Holdens from the time the V8 formula began in 1993, ending the marque’s 14-year championship dry spell by winning the title with Gibson Motorsport the following season.

By the 1997 enduros he’d landed at  HRT and, after early battles with Lowndes, romped to three titles and two Bathurst wins between 2000-02 in a period of utter domination.

Adding more Bathurst wins with the HRT in 2005 and as a co-driver at Triple Eight in ’10 before retirement, Skaife’s Holden credentials are unquestionable.

1) Peter Brock

The late Peter Brock will forever be Holden’s greatest legend; his on-track success and off-track charm both contributing to the marque’s showroom success for decades.

All nine of his Bathurst wins and three championships came in Holdens, driving all the legendary cars from Monaros to Toranas and Commodores.

He went in and out of the factory fold and even had a public bust-up with Holden in the late 1980s that ended his road car business, but it was only a matter of time before ‘The Icon’ returned.

Brock’s move back to the factory team in 1994 kick-started HRT’s ascendancy to a Supercars powerhouse, setting the tone for the era that followed his full-time retirement three years later.

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