CHARLIE Schwerkolt’s Team 18 has a member of Mount Panorama royalty in its corner as it prepares for Sunday’s Repco Bathurst 1000.
Colin Bond is a semi-regular fixture in the Team 18 garage thanks to a long-time friendship with Schwerkolt and close connections with a couple of the squad’s members.
Bond is one of Australian motorsport’s true legends, as evidenced by his positions in the Supercars Hall of Fame and Bathurst’s Legends Lane, and an Order of Australia accolade.
He drove for both Holden and Ford’s factory teams amid 28 Bathurst starts, scoring the Holden Dealer Team’s first Great Race victory in 1969 and forming part of Allan Moffat’s famous one-two finish eight years later.
Bond also excelled in rallying – winning the Australian championship three times – and ran his own touring car team for a period before retiring from regular driving in 1994.
True to his cheerful yet understated persona, Bond does not seek the limelight but still enjoys being around the sport and ordinarily attends several events with Team 18 each season.
That has included being trackside in the days building up to Sunday’s Repco Bathurst 1000.
“Charlie has been part of the sport for quite a while. I think he’s a nice guy, very enthusiastic,” Bond told V8 Sleuth of his connection to Team 18.
“I know a couple of the boys he’s got working for him as well and I like to come in and give the guys a hand where I can.
“When he has his corporate people up there, I can go and talk to them and explain some things if they don’t know.
“The whole team works excellently. It’s fairly streamlined, they can’t just go and buy anything they want, but they do a good job with what they’ve got.”
Bond’s connections among the team include its veteran fabricator George Smith, who worked with Bond at both the HDT and Moffat’s team, and engineer Phil Keed.
The latter has been one of the most respected engineering brains in pitlane since joining the category in 2003 after a stint in the World Rally Championship with Prodrive.
Keed’s career in motorsport started with helping at Bond’s Ford Sierra squad while still at school, which included being part of the team when Bond and co-driver Alan Jones finished third at Bathurst in 1988.
“Phil said he was going to become a mechanic, and my boys said ‘no Phil, you’re too bright for that, go to uni’, which he did do and got his engineering degree,” recalls Bond.
Bond’s link to Prodrive boss David Richards through rallying eventually helped Keed get his break overseas. He’s since worked at several Supercars squads and landed at Team 18 in 2019.
Now 79, Bond’s last Great Race start came in 1994; the second year of the current five-litre V8 formula, while he later became the V8 Supercar category’s first Driving Standards Observer.
He still enjoys the sport but doesn’t envy today’s drivers, or team owners.
“We certainly had the best times,” says Bond.
“To me now, there’s just too many wiggly lines and everything else. The driver virtually has no input into the car anymore, whereas we had to work it out ourselves, which I think was good.
“I look around and I think ‘I’m glad I don’t own a team’. Trying to find the dollars all the time is hard enough, and then everyone’s trying to nick the sponsors you do have…”