Bathurst 1000 – The Legends
With the legendary Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 gearing up to full swing and the looming news that the iconic Ford V8 racing team will be hanging up its gloves at the end of next year, there are surely a few tears being held back by Tru-Blu Aussies around the globe. Witnessing the last ever Ford Falcon GT roll off the production line 2 days ago and the end to manufacturing in Australia coming in 2016, it is fair to say that this news didn’t come at a good time.
Poor old Henry must be turning in his grave!
Many are asking the question of whether the departure of Ford Performance Racing will kill the sport all together. The heated rivalry with nemesis Holden, the close races up Mt Panorama, the head to head battles between legends of the sport, it’s the stuff of folklore. Former V8 Supercar hero Dick Johnson is devastated at the news, and I’m sure that those who grew up with blue, and even red in their blood will agree that the exiting of FPV will leave an empty void in the long standing sport.
To soften the doom and gloom, today we look at the famous victories that the blue oval has produced on “The Mountain” and the hero’s that have been behind the wheel of those iconic Fords.
Craig Lowndes (CURRENT)
With 6 wins and a record 13 podium finishes, Craig Lowndes is the King of the hill for the 2015 Bathurst 1000. The household name is now nipping on the heels of championship leader Mark Winterbottom (below) on points and continues to impress at Mt Panorama year on year. The Holden Red Bull racing driver shows qualities of poise and focus and we are excited to see him take on the hill next year.
Fred Gibson (1960s)
Handing the V8 Falcon the first ever victory at Bathurst 500 in 1967, Fred Gibson is a legend of Australian motorsport who has done it all. A driver, a team owner, a Hall of Famer and a mentor to many, Fred helped shape the future of Ford from its early beginnings in motorsport.
Allan Moffat (1970s)
Born a Canadian but quickly claimed as an Aussie, Allan Moffat was Ford’s go to guy as he produced 4 Bathurst wins throughout the 70s in his Coca-Cola-sponsored Ford Boss 302 Mustang. For the sake of this article, let’s not mention anything about Allan winning any Touring Car Championships in a Holden. (Apologies for using that rude word Ford Fans). Needless to say, he had a mutual respect and rivalry for Peter Brock.
Dick Johnson (1980s – early 1990s)
Owner of the longest running team in the V8 Supercars is a legend whose poster has been on many a kids wall and will remain in many a motorheads heart for generations to come.
What many may not know is that Dick Johnson started his racing career in an FJ Holden, but let’s not dwell on that too much.
What really matters is that Dicks name goes hand in hand with the Ford brand and his legendary wins at Bathurst in 1981, 1989 and 1994 helped carve his name into the V8 Supercar Hall of Fame in 2001 and will be a household name for generations to come.
Defending champion of the 2013 Bathurst title, Mark Winterbottom returns this year with the aim of keeping his crown and helping his co-driver Steve Owen race toward his first Bathurst 1000 victory.
Being a true Ford lover from the beginning, even buying a purple TE Ford Cortina for his first road car, Mark is the quintessential poster boy for Ford.
It would be fair to say that there are no fence sitters when it comes to flying the blue or the red flag in V8 Supercars, even when a driver switches teams, the original bond between driver and car will be forever ingrained.
I guess one of the reasons why the V8 supercars resonate so well with Aussies is that unlike the F1 or Indy, we can get in the driver’s seat of the same vehicles that circuit the Bathurst track. Surprisingly, being approved for a car loan for one of these performance vehicles is a breeze with 360.
We wish all the drivers the best for the race on Sunday!