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Mount Panorama
Wednesday, June 26, 2024


THE car that James Courtney drove to an against-the-odds championship victory for Dick Johnson Racing in 2010 has joined an exhibition paying tribute to the squad’s 40th anniversary.

Team 18 owner Charlie Schwerkolt has loaned Ford Falcon FG chassis 888A-018 to the National Motor Racing Museum at Mount Panorama in Bathurst, where it joins several other machines from DJR’s history.

Schwerkolt became a part-owner of DJR towards the end of the 2000s decade, a period that saw the then-financially troubled squad return to the front of the field.

The car began its life with the team in 2009, a year when DJR sourced a pair of then-new Ford Falcon FG chassis from Triple Eight.

Courtney emerged as a title challenger as the 2010 season wore on, but question marks over the future of the team, its ownership, funding, management structure and key staff escalated through the season, culminating in the departure of Schwerkolt, Courtney, race engineer Scott Sinclair and sporting director Adrian Burgess at year’s end.

The championship itself was decided in a dramatic fashion: Courtney, fellow title contenders Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom and a slew of other cars crashed in a sudden downpour late in the penultimate race of the year at Sydney Olympic Park.

The DJR crew were able to patch together 888A-018 in time for Courtney to complete one final flying lap to be classified as a finisher.

Triple Eight weren’t able to do the same for Whincup, and the points that Courtney gained all but secured the championship victory with a race to spare.

Courtney celebrates winning the 2010 title with a spectacular burnout. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

The title-winning Falcon continued racing with the team through the 2011 and 2012 seasons until it was replaced by a new chassis – the final Project Blueprint-era V8 Supercar built – while 888A-018 was restored to its state on the day it won the 2010 championship.

“After the car finished its racing career with DJR, the car was purchased in 2013 by a good friend of mine in Terry Smart,” Schwerkolt said.

“I purchased the car through Terry Smart and a colleague of his Darren House at the end of 2018.

“Since then we’ve had it proudly on display in our foyer at Team 18, and everyone who comes through is amazed by the history and the condition it’s in.

“Having an ownership stake at DJR back in the day, to have this car in my possession certainly brings back a lot of memories and it’s an important part of my journey and history in motorsport.

Schwerkolt and the NMRM’s Brad Owen with 888A-018. Pic: Supplied / Team 18

“I had a good chat to Brad Owen who is the manager of the National Motor Racing Museum at the Bathurst 1000 last year and he chased me down to see if I would put the car on display, it’s 40 years of DJR and he’s having a display of their cars and asked if I would be interested.

“Initially I thought having it at the race team was great, but its one of those cars that people should see and enjoy in person, its a very special car that’s been restored incredibly well.

“It runs, it drives and its ready to race! To see it in this condition is really special for the fans of Supercars racing.

“The museum at Bathurst is one of the best motor museums in the world and so I took up Brad’s offer and it will be there for a few months for people to come in and see.

“While I have great memories of 2010, my ultimate focus is to achieve the championship again with Team 18.

“As we head back to the mountain for the opening Supercars round of the year, with Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) and Scott (Pye) behind the wheel and the staff we’ve got onboard, I believe we can achieve that result again.”

The 40 years of Dick Johnson Racing exhibition is running at the National Motor Racing Museum at Mount Panorama in Bathurst until Easter 2021.

Chassis 888A-018 is now on display with several cars from both Dick Johnson’s and DJR’s history. Pic: Supplied / NMRM
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