What's in a Number: The Number 18

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/04/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

There's massive passion in V8 Supercar racing and there's no doubt there's plenty of passion from Ford - and in particular Dick Johnson Racing fans - about the number 18.

In the latest of our series of the stories behind numbers in the V8 Supercars Championship, we've picked a number that has seen its fair share of success along the way.

Plenty of fans have taken to social media to vent their frustration in recent years that former DJR co-owner Charlie Schwerkolt now has the number on his entry rather than it being used by the Queensland-based squad now known as DJR Team Penske.

This year saw a major change with Schwerkolt switching his entry from being run by Ford Performance Racing (now Prodrive Racing Australia) to Walkinshaw Racing.

In doing so, Lee Holdsworth became the first driver since privateer Ray Ellis (at Winton way back in 1986) to run the #18 on a Holden in a championship round.

So what's the story with #18 in Australian touring car racing?

There's no doubt that it's instantly recognised as a number connected to Dick Johnson's team.

All up, the team used the digit across 25 years in every season bar one from 1987 to 2012 - the one time it wasn't used was during the 1996 Australian Touring Car Championship as reigning champ John Bowe elected to use the champion's #1 for his title defence.

The #18 actually first appeared with DJR at Bathurst in 1985 when the team entered a pair of Mustangs for Dick Johnson and Larry Perkins.

They only ever intended to race one but qualified both just in case of an issue of one of them - a lesson learnt from Johnson's infamous crash into the trees in the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday morning in 1983. The #18 car was withdrawn prior to the race.

When DJR expanded to two cars in 1987 with its Sierra program the team made #18 its own, firstly with Gregg Hansford and then from 1988 onwards with John Bowe.

Bowe would drive the #18 DJR entry full-time in the championship from 1988 to 1998, a run only broken by using #1 in 1996 as previously mentioned.

The #18 car was regularly the team's second entry for the endurance races with Johnson and Bowe pairing up in #17 on the vast majority of occasions while the Tasmanian was with the team.

The #18 entry would see Steven Johnson make his Bathurst debut in 1994 and, while the #17 entry naturally took most of the limelight each year at Mount Panorama, the #18 car generally did very well for itself.

When Bowe departed for the CAT Racing team in Western Australia, the #18 became Paul Radisich's for four seasons followed by Max Wilson (2003), Warren Luff (2004), Glenn Seton (2005), Will Davison (2006-2008), James Courtney (2009-2010) and James Moffat (2011-2012).

While James Moffat ran the #18 on his Jim Beam Falcon in 2011 and NortonFalcon with DJR in 2012, he wasn't the first Moffat to run the #18 in an ATCC/V8SC race.

Father Allan would later become synonymous with the #9, but he made his ATCC debut at Sandown in 1965 carrying #18 on his Lotus Cortina.

He finished fourth and no car other than a Ford has taken #18 to a better result in ATCC/V8SC history since!

But it was a number that served DJR well. Bowe claimed the 1995 ATCC crown using #18 and Courtney also used it to win the V8 Supercars Championship 15 years later in 2010.

At the end of that season as part of his settlement with Dick Johnson, Charlie Schwerkolt walked away from his time with the team with a Racing Entitlements Contract and the #18 that was attached to it.

He leased it back to DJR under which it ran Moffat for two seasons before re-claiming it and doing a customer deal with FPR.

Alex Davison drove #18 in 2013, Jack Perkins in 2014 and now Lee Holdsworth this season.

It's Schwerkolt's right to use that number as that is the one attached to his REC - the modern system under which the V8 Supercars Championship is conducted. In the 'old days', numbers were allocated sometimes by individual promoters and often were changed by teams on a regular basis from event to event. There was not as much emphasis on their importance as there is today.

While many Ford fans of the late 1980s, 90s and 00s will connect #18 with DJR and John Bowe, blue oval fans of the 1970s and early 80s will think of another Ford driver - Murray Carter.

Carter was the privateer that kept waving the flag for Ford, even when the factory had abandoned the sport and its main pilot Allan Moffat was in and out of the championship.

The popular Melbourne racer ran under the #18 in the Australian Touring Car Championship from 1975 to 1984 on a range of different hardtop and four-door Falcons before eventually swapping to a rotary Mazda RX7 in 1984 - the final year of Group C rules.

Carter holds a strange sort of 'record' in the ATCC/V8SC history books - the most podium finishes by a driver without a victory! He finished on the podium a total of 20 times - 15 of them coming carrying the #18!

The number didn't really give him much luck at the annual Bathurst 1000.

He ran #18 in 11 straight Bathurst enduros from 1974 to 1984 and failed to finish nine of them!

The one real highlight was his only Bathurst podium result in 1978 - he and Kiwi Graeme Lawrence finished third from 31st on the grid. It remains the lowest grid position for a podium finisher in Bathurst race history and won't be beaten for a while given the current field size being less than 31 cars.

In early years of the ATCC and indeed the annual Bathurst enduro, numbers were allocated by class. Generally the bigger cars had the higher numbers, while the small capacity cars had the low numbers.

So it should come as no surprise to know that Mini pilot Peter Manton was the first to run #18 in an ATCC race - at Lakeside back in 1964 when he finished fifth in the days where a single race determined the championship.

Lee Holdsworth's Commodore VF V8 Supercar sure is a very different beast from the Mini that also carried the same #18 just over 50 years ago!

#18 Fast Facts

- The #18 has claimed 39 - nearly half - of DJR's 81 ATCC/V8SC race wins. John Bowe won 25 and Paul Radisich and James Courtney seven each using the number.

- While DJR's famous #17 has won the Bathurst 1000 three times (1981, 1989, 1994), its #18 entry has finished runner-up three times. In 1988 (Dick Johnson/John Bowe/John Smith), 1990 (Jeff Allam/Paul Radisich - the equal best result by an all-international crew in race history) and 2000 (Paul Radisich/Jason Bright).

- The #18 entry has been a consistent performer for DJR at Bathurst, finishing in the top 10 in 1989, 1990, 1993-1997, 2000-2002, 2005-2008 and 2010.

- Grant Denyer made his V8 Supercars Championship debut in 2006 in the #18. He shared the #18 DJR Falcon entry with Alex Davison at the Sandown 500 - the duo finished ninth a few weeks later at Bathurst.

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