SUPERCARS Hall of Famer Neil Crompton has revealed that he turned down an opportunity to drive for Dick Johnson Racing full-time in 1999.
It’s among a host of never-before-told stories explored in Crompton’s new book, Neil Crompton: Best Seat in the House, available now in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.
In late 1998 DJR was hunting for a driver to replace the departing John Bowe in its #18 entry alongside team boss Johnson, who was about to embark on his final racing season.
Crompton had joined Glenn Seton’s eponymous team during 1998 for a handful of Australian Touring Car Championship rounds, the Gold Coast Indy and the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 enduros.
In the book Crompton recalls a meeting with Johnson and then DJR CEO Wayne Cattach in which he was offered the DJR drive for 1999, and Cattach’s shock when he subsequently declined the offer.
As history shows, Crompton elected to remain with Seton’s team as it transitioned into its new Ford Tickford Racing guise.
“My decision had nothing to do with my feelings about Dick or his team. I had known him and his wife, Jill, for a long time,” Crompton wrote.
“I had a warm relationship with Glenn and the allure of being a factory driver for Ford was also part of my decision.
“Glenn had given me the chance to return to V8 Supercars the previous year, and loyalty was a big thing for me. I followed my heart.”
While Seton’s team had enjoyed great success through the 1990s, Crompton spent just two years with what became a struggling FTR.
“If I had my time over, I’d have been more ruthless in my racing career, and more cold-blooded in the decisions I made to join or leave teams,” Crompton added.
“If you look at the history books and the results of Glenn’s and Dick’s teams over the following years, you could argue I made the wrong decision.
“Who knows what it would have looked like had I done the deal to join DJR for 1999? Motor racing is full of sliding doors moments like that one.
“You can only briefly ponder where you might have ended up had you made a different decision. And that’s just life – there’s no point daydreaming.”
The full story of FTR is covered in Seton’s own book, Seto: The Official Racing History of Glenn Seton, which is also available in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.