IT’S an iconic image in Holden folklore: Peter Brock and David Parsons in their day-glo red and white Commodores cruising past the chequered flag in a form finish, conquering both their rivals and Mount Panorama itself.
The Holden Dealer Team’s crushing performance in the 1984 Bathurst 1000 stands tall as one of the most emphatic victories in the race’s history.
As of 2019 it remains the only time Holden’s factory-backed entries have finished first and second in ‘the Great Race’.
The Group C era was coming to a close at the end of 1984, the Australian formula being replaced by the international Group A rules package.
Despite this, the HDT built two brand-new cars for the 1984 endurance races.
The VK model Commodores, dubbed the ‘Last of the Big Bangers’ in team posters produced by long-time Brock PR man Tim ‘Plastic’ Pemberton – instantly grabbed attention when the HDT wheeled them out for the first time at the Sandown 500.
Brock had first seen day-glo orange paint on cars in Europe, and his use of it on the VK was a local first.
Allied to their wide, fat racing tyres on crisp, white Momo rims, wild flared guards and spoilers, the crowd actually roared with approval when the cars emerged from the pits to be seen on the track for the first time!
The cars went as good as they looked, and a ‘keep it simple’ approach from Larry Perkins and Neill Burns on the mechanical side made for a powerful and bulletproof package.
Naturally, the two factory Commodores feature in Racing the Lion: An Illustrated History of Holden in Australian Motorsport, a 400-page hardcover book paying tribute to the marque’s rich competition history spanning over seven decades.
Brock went on to record his ninth and final Sandown endurance victory in the ‘Big Banger’ with Perkins as co-driver in the perfect debut of the new car, while John Harvey and Parsons brought the sister car home third.
Better was to come at Bathurst.
While he missed pole through the efforts of a turbocharged rival turning up the boost for the one-lap Top 10 Shootout, Brock blasted into the lead as soon as the flag dropped to start the race.
Brock and Perkins were only headed for 19 out of the 163 laps, and held a comfortable two lap margin over the closest car as the finish neared.
That car was the second HDT Commodore, whose race to secure second had been far from straightforward.
Harvey had been shoved off the track in the early laps while battling for fifth, but had climbed back into third as the race passed the 100-lap mark.
Parsons hopped in for the final stint with a mission to push hard, slashing a 63-second deficit to the second-placed car of Warren Cullen and Alan Jones to ribbons. The matter was resolved before he reached the rival Commodore; Jones pitted for a splash of fuel with a handful of laps to go.
A 1-2 secured, Brock cruised around for the final lap waiting for Parsons to catch him, setting up the memorable scene of the two factory Holdens taking the chequered flag together (albeit two laps apart).
The ‘Big Bangers’ were not quite done when they took the chequered flag together at Mount Panorama.
Brock also won the Motorcraft 300 endurance race at the old Surfers Paradise Raceway and finished a narrow second in the non-championship Australian Grand Prix support race at Calder in Melbourne.
The chequered flag at Calder brought the curtain down on the cars’ factory competition life after just four races, headlined by a history-making visit to the Mountain.