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Monday, May 27, 2024


FORMER Supercars supremo Tony Cochrane has opened up on just how serious the fallout got when he led the charge to form a rival Bathurst 1000 event.

Speaking at length on the latest Rusty’s Garage podcast, Cochrane recalls his establishment of AVESCO ahead of the 1997 season and the decision to introduce the V8 Supercars moniker.

He also details the initial ownership split between the collective teams (67.5 percent), CAMS (now Motorsport Australia, 10 percent) and his SEL company (22.5 percent) and how he woke the industry up to the “financial disaster” that was Bathurst at the time.

More controversial was the situation that would unfold with relation to Mount Panorama in his first year at the helm.

Amid V8 racing’s shift from the Seven Network to Network 10, Cochrane saw the annual Bathurst 1000 spectacle reefed away and handed to two-litre touring cars.

In response to a jab from late Bathurst 1000 administrator Ivan Stibbard that V8s were “dinosaurs” as the decision was made, Cochrane revealed a mighty one-liner in response.

“I turned around and said to the whole room, ‘You know, you could be right, but I want you to remember one thing today: The dinosaur lived on Earth for 8000 years in a hostile environment’,” he told host Greg Rust in the second leg of the three-part episode.

“And then I left.”

Cochrane explained the process of teeing up a rival Bathurst 1000 for V8 Supercars, with Network 10 onboard, and the adverse reaction it drew from some as “all hell broke loose”.

Tony Cochrane. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

“At one stage, regrettably, I had to have police protection for my daughter because I had quite a few death threats,” he said.

“Not aimed at me, aimed at her, which was really disappointing. It was pretty full-on.

“There were some people that didn’t like change occurring and I got some beauties at events.

“There were three or four times that guys wanted to front me up and come and fight… it was pretty interesting days.

“For a period of time, I actually can’t remember how long now, but certainly for three or four months at future events I had a security guard with me most of the time because you’d get this odd lunatic that would come up and want to take you on because I had ruined their Bathurst.

“And then of course subsequently, the third year we moved back to the traditional weekend and everything returned to normal.”

Cochrane remained as the championship’s executive chairman until October 2012.

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