A new breed of privateer is entering the Repco Bathurst 1000 through the Wildcard opportunities provided, which harks back to the 1970s and 1980s in particular where Australia’s battlers took on the best locally and internationally had to offer.
Repco The Garage provides a recap of five starring performances by privateers at the Mountain, but not necessarily in terms of race results:
- Graeme Bailey/Allan Grice
Yes, Grice was an absolute professional and at the top of his game in the 1980s, but racing the famous Chickadee Commodore was a privateer effort backed by Graeme Bailey. Led by Les Small and Peter Pattenden, the effort took the learning’s Grice had bought from Europe to finally achieve the gun driver’s ambition of beating the factory Holden Dealer Team operation. Bailey’s work during the touring car championship to further develop the product here is underrated.
- Peter Janson/Larry Perkins
When Peter Janson’s team manager Ian Tate suggested then-Formula 1 driver Larry Perkins as a co-driver for Bathurst it was a risk, which initially didn’t start off to well. Writing off one of The Captain’s Toranas at Sandown was not the perfect way to start the relationship, but podiums in 1977, 1979 and 1980 followed as the pair were referred to as the Odd Couple, but it worked so well!
- Warren Cullen/Alan Jones
Getting the reigning Formula 1 World Champion to drive at Bathurst is never going to happen, but it did! Melbourne privateer Warren Cullen managed to do just that when he partnered with Alan Jones in 1981 to give Australia’s last Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion his Bathurst debut. It was a rushed campaign and the Kmart sponsored Commodore completed 48 laps.
- Peter Brock/Brian Sampson
After being dumped from the Harry Firth-led Holden Dealer Team in 1974, star driver Peter Brock linked up with privateers Gown-Hindhaugh the next season. Norm Gown and Bruce Hindhaugh provided the platform for Brock to continue his career, which proved successful as it garnered his second Bathurst victory. Teaming with the talented Brian Sampson, Brock won by two laps.
- Paul Gulson/Ian Geoghegan
Finishing on the podium at the Mountain was a privateer’s dream and back in 1980 it happened for two teams. One was the Peter Janson/Larry Perkins Schweppes Commodore; the other was Paul Gulson’s Gold Bullion entry pairing alongside the great Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan. Finishing third in the Commodore’s first appearance at Bathurst proved Geoghegan’s last podium at the storied circuit.