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When Peter Brock became the dominant force at Sandown

Just as Peter Brock knew his way around the Mountain in October, it was the same around the horse racing track in September.

Although Brock was a privateer for the start of the Hang Ten 400 period, he still kickstarted an amazing stint of success lasting into the 1980s.

Brock’s win in 1975 as part of the last Sandown 250 began a dominant reign barely witnessed in the world of motorsport by winning seven on the trot.

For the 1976 event, American surf brand Hang Ten signed on as the naming rights sponsorship of the race as the length turned metric to 400km. Brock’s success ensured he never lost a Hang Ten 400!

For the first time the traditional Sandown endurance race was part of the Australian Touring Car Championship, but Brock was out of the battle for the title after a part-season. This was due to Brock forming his own squad alongside brother Phil or ‘Splitpin’ and it enjoyed success almost immediately.

Entering the 1977 season with sponsorship from notable Holden dealer Bill Patterson, Ford dominated the season forcing The General to move fast. What came was one of Australian motorsport’s most revered models, the A9X.

Debuting at the 1977 Hang Ten 400, Brock gave the A9X a dream debut to take victory from Allan Grice in his similar example and Moffat, who had dominated the season up to that point completed the rostrum.

Welcomed back to the HDT fold at the start of 1978, this didn’t stop Brock as he continued the streak to five on the trot with the help of the A9X as it became a force in Australian touring car racing.

The top five of 1978 drove A9Xs and the top three of 1979 as well as Brock headed both, the latter a 1-2 finish for HDT.

For 1980 there was a dramatic shift in touring car regulations in a plan by CAMS to update the hero models contesting the championship. Holden transitioned to the Commodore from the Torana, while Ford changed to the XD Falcon to replace the hardtop.

Much like Moffat did in 1977, Brock was the best prepared for the changeover of regulations to win his third and final Australian Touring Car Championship title. Brock’s biggest threat through the 1980 season was Kevin Bartlett in the Channel Nine Chevrolet Camaro, but he was absent from Sandown.

Arch rival Moffat was actually his teammate in the second HDT Commodore, finishing third behind Garry Rogers.

By 1981, the touring car scene was changing as Dick Johnson won the ATCC title and became the leading Ford contender as Moffat moved to Mazda and Grice led the way for BMW.

However, this didn’t stop Brock from extending his run to seven as Johnson finished second a lap down.

As a new touring car season beckoned, Hang Ten ended its association providing an opening for Castrol to take on the naming rights for the event leading into a new international era.