CHEERS! HOW HOLDSWORTH ‘MADE PEACE’ WITH THE MOUNTAIN

Holdsworth sharing a beer with the Mountain in 2009, left, and celebrating his 2021 victory with Chaz Mostert. Pics: Brett Holdsworth and Supplied

HOW does a young driver down on his Bathurst luck make peace with Mount Panorama?

Share a beer with it, of course!

Lee Holdsworth’s victory alongside Chaz Mostert in the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 marked the realisation of a lifelong dream for the 38-year-old.

It took 18 Great Race starts to score his Bathurst breakthrough; equalling the second-longest wait for a Great Race win behind Mostert’s 2014-winning co-driver, Paul Morris.

Sunday’s celebrations were a world away from the devastation the Mountain brought early in Holdsworth’s career.

His first five Bathurst 1000s between 2004 and ’08 yielded four DNFs and a last place finish, while he failed to see the chequered flag in the ’08 and ’09 Bathurst 12 Hour races.

Holdsworth crashed out of his Bathurst debut in 2004. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

It was after his car’s demise in the 2009 12 Hour that Holdsworth made the unusual decision to try and “make peace” with Mount Panorama.

The Holden Astra he co-drove with brother Brett, father Glen, and Development Series racer Taz Douglas had crashed out of the race just prior to half-distance.

As revealed by Brett in the aftermath of Sunday’s win, the Holdsworths packed their damaged car away and headed to the top of the Mountain to spectate.

“Lee cracked a beer and dug a hole in the dirt, he took a sip and then shared a beer with the Mountain, pouring it into the hole,” posted Brett Holdsworth on social media, alongside a picture of the moment.

“He pleaded with the Mountain to be good to him and apologised for anything that he may have done to upset it in the past. He covered the hole up and gave it a pat.”

When Lee return to Bathurst that October, he scored a breakthrough third place with Michael Caruso aboard a Garry Rogers Motorsport Commodore.

It was a miraculous result given that Caruso had endured a wild spin at Reid Park early in the race, missing the concrete by millimetres before continuing completely unscathed.

Lee Holdsworth. Pic: Supplied

Holdsworth in fact finished his next five Bathurst 1000s after his spiritual moment on the Mountain, but there were plenty more testing times ahead before a win was ultimately secured.

Asked about the story on this week’s Parked Up Podcast, Holdsworth explained his logic.

“I thought ‘this place has got something against me, because there’s always something that puts me out of the race’,” he said.

“Whether it’s an engine or a co-driver or.… there were just so many things that hurt my chance at a result there.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to make peace with the Mountain’, so I went up the top, I took a beer up with me, dug a little hole and prayed to the Mountain.

“I said ‘please, let’s be friends from now on, we can do this’ and I had a little sip of the beer, said ‘cheers’ to the Mountain, gave him a little sip and away I went.

“Thirteen or so years later he’s finally forgiven me, and I guess maybe that beer has finally seeped all the way to the bottom of the Mountain now!”

Holdsworth celebrates as Mostert passes by. Pic: Supplied

Holdsworth and Mostert enjoyed a dream run in their #25 Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore through the 2021 Bathurst week.

They were in the top three for every single Supercars track session across the week and dominated the race, overcoming a tyre failure in Mostert’s first stint to win on sheer speed.

“I’m not a spiritual sort of person, but if there’s anywhere where you feel the need to speak to the Mountain or the ground, it’s up there,” Holdsworth concluded.

“You feel like there’s Mountain Gods and they’ve decided the race win before you’ve even got there. It’s pretty special for them to choose myself and Chaz this year.”