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How Greg Murphy came to use the number 51

THE number 51 will join Greg Murphy in returning to Supercars this October when he and Richie Stanaway tackle the Repco Bathurst 1000 in a wildcard entry.

The much-rumoured entry was confirmed on Tuesday with Erebus Motorsport locked in to run a third Holden Commodore ZB in Boost Mobile colours.

It will mark the first time the #51 has been used in a Supercars Championship race since the final race of Murphy’s full-time career at Sydney Olympic Park in 2012.

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The Kiwi legend is synonymous with the number; his immortal ‘Lap of the Gods’ was set in a car carrying those digits, which he and Rick Kelly drove to a Bathurst 1000 victory the following day.

Murphy features prominently in our 400 page, ‘Racing the Lion’ Holden illustrated motorsport history book – you can get up to $20 off here if you bundle it up with another book from our range!

All up, 138 of Murphy’s 200 championship race starts to date have come with a car numbered 51, dating back to his maiden race with the Kmart Racing Team at Phillip Island in 2001 (pictured at the top of the story).

Murphy told V8 Sleuth’s Saturday Sleuthing series in 2019 that he had no real attachment or prior history with the #51 before adopting it for the 2001 season.

“There’s a pretty basic story as to how the #51 came about,” Murphy told V8 Sleuth in 2019.

“When the whole Kmart Racing Team was formed under the Tom Walkinshaw Racing banner, there were a lot of licence issues at that time around the franchising of it all, and it was very confusing and a lot of manipulation required to make that all happen.

Murphy set the famous ‘Lap of the Gods’ and won the 2003 Bathurst 1000 with Rick Kelly in a car carrying #51. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

“At the time there was the Holden Young Lions team running, and they had car #15, but when the other licence turned up there was no number associated with it.

“I think it was our sign writing guy at the time, Doug Brumby, who was like, ‘why don’t you save on cutting different numbers; why don’t we just reverse the 15 and make it 51?’

“Everyone was like, ‘oh yeah, that’s a good idea!’

“So nothing superstitious, an amazing back story, or Days of Thunder links!”

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