This Commodore won on its championship debut but is sadly no more …
STORY: DYLAN GULSON
IMAGES: AN1 IMAGES (COVENTRY STUDIOS)
OUR APEX Replicas RIP Racers series returns with a car that was initially steered by a Holden legend, wore a memorable livery and tacked four Bathurst 1000s – Larry Perkins’ Castrol 1995 VR Commodore.
This particular Larry-mobile spent the majority of its life in privateer hands and was destroyed in a massive shunt during the second-ever round of the Konica V8 Lites Series at Phillip Island in 2000.
Privateer racer Gary Quartly was at the wheel of the Commodore when it left the road at the high speed Hayshed corner of the Grand Prix circuit – thankfully he escaped serious injury in the incident, however the same could not be said for the Commodore that was damaged beyond repair.
“The accident was caused by a combination of having a sticking throttle while running off-line,” Quartly told V8 Sleuth.
“I can’t remember anything of the incident as my head hit the roll bar pretty hard and all I recall is waking up in the ambulance.”
The car was the first brand new VR Commodore completed by Perkins Engineering in 1995 and debuted as the #11 Castrol car by Perkins at the Eastern Creek Winfield Triple Challenge event.
Perkins then used the car to great effect during the first weekend of the ’95 Shell Australian Touring Car Championship by winning the opening race and round at Sandown.
He continued with this car for the remainder of the ’95 championship, claiming podium results at Bathurst and Barbagallo, before selling it to privateer racer Neil Schembri who ran the car as the #36 Oz Promotions Commodore at the Tooheys 1000 with Graham Moore as co-driver.
The Commodore didn’t appear at all during the ’96 season (a reported sponsorship deal with SEGA turned to muck) and re-emerged at the start of ’97 in updated VS specification sporting a blue and yellow livery for the start of that year’s AMSCAR series at Eastern Creek.
Schembri started all four rounds of the series aboard the Commodore and finished fourth in the pointscore before teaming with Ian Luff for the Primus 1000 Classic at Bathurst.
The pair finished ninth overall and second privateer in what was Luff’s one and only race start in The Great Race.
Schembri joined forces with Gary Quartly in 1998 and went on to share driving duties of the Commodore in selected rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship.
The duo teamed up for Bathurst later in the year and retired after 100 laps due to, ironically, gearbox failure.
Gearbox Motorsport retained the car in 1999 though it was only used in the FAI 1000 that year where the duo came home 18thoverall in the car’s last Bathurst appearance.
The Commodore was wheeled out again the following year for the pair to compete in the inaugural Konica V8 Lites Series with Schembri behind the wheel for the opening round at Eastern Creek.
Quartly was tasked with driving the car for the second round at Phillip Island and even took a young V8 Sleuth, Aaron Noonan, for a hot lap in the Commodore on the Saturday of that weekend!
The next day would prove to be the car’s last when it crunched the wall hard at the Hayshed – Quartly was knocked unconscious in the impact and the car burst into flames, ensuring the Commodore would never race again.
Keep checking back to the V8 Sleuth website for more APEX Replicas RIP Racers stories highlighting race cars from Australian Motorsport history that have met their demise.