Johnson reflects on 50 years attending Bathurst

04 Oct
Legendary driver and team owner celebrating milestone of his own at Mount Panorama
  • Johnson made Bathurst debut in 1973 in a Torana

  • Supercars Hall of Famer won Great Race three times; in 1981, 1989 and 1994

  • Son Steven finished third in 2007 race after taking lead late

Dick Johnson remains proud of what he and his team has achieved, and how it achieved it, in motorsport as he celebrates 50 years of making the trek to Mount Panorama.

This weekend’s Repco Bathurst 1000 is the 60th anniversary of the Great Race being held at Mount Panorama for the first time in 1963.

While a Ford hero, Johnson made his Bathurst debut in a Holden Torana alongside Bob Forbes in 1973, and finished a credible fifth. That race was won by another Ford hero, Allan Moffat.

Queenslander Johnson had to wait until 1981 to win his first of three Bathurst classics, with his heartbreaking crash while leading in 1980 — thanks to the infamous rock incident — making headlines. 

In the four years since, Johnson's team has racked up several championships and Bathurst wins in 1989, 1994 and 2019, with its successes often in the wake of hardship.

Five iconic father-son legacies in Supercars Open Graph Image

“The first one we won, in ’81, was really, really special,” Johnson said in a Shell V-Power Racing Team video.

“Even though it was a shortened race, but at the end of the day, we had the goods to do it.

“We’re certainly proud of what we’ve done in the way of motorsport. But I think the thing I’m lost proud of is not what we’ve achieved, but how we achieved it.

“There were some tough times, and we did it from home, no factory involvement et cetera. But things are a lot different today.”

Johnson's final Bathurst start came alongside son Steven in 1999, with the father-son combo racing to fourth — a day that Johnson junior cited as a “proud moment”.

Steven carried on racing for his father’s team, narrowly missing out on victory in 2007 in a race that the second-generation racer admitted he “damn near should’ve won”.

For Dick, victories in 1981, 1989 and 1994 cemented his own legacy, which lives on through his eponymous team, which last won at Mount Panorama courtesy of Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat in 2019.

“Everyone knows who won Bathurst,” Johnson said.

“It’s changed over the years dramatically, from the early days of Bathurst, it’s so much different. Not only the cars, but the race track itself, the television coverage. 

"They have these little cameras in the car now which look like a tube of lipstick! God, I had a full-sized camera inside the car. Things are quite a bit different to what they used to be.

“I’ve watched it evolve over many, many years, and it’s great to see how popular it is.”

There are three Dick Johnson Racing Fords in action this weekend, with the Simona De Silvestro/Kai Allen wildcard joining the Will Davison/Alex Davison and Anton De Pasquale/Tony D’Alberto entries.

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