JASON Richards, inducted into the Supercars Hall of Fame in 2013, was a gritty, genuine, and charismatic Kiwi racer who sadly passed away 10 years ago today, December 15, 2011, from a rare form of cancer of the adrenal gland.
On this day every year we stop, reflect, and celebrate his life.
He became a popular figure in the V8 Supercar pit and paddock area in a career in the category that spanned 2000 to 2011.
We’ve dived into the photo files to recap each of his seasons in the Supercars Championship, all of them coming at the wheel of Holden Commodores.
Listen to a special episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco on Jason Richards, featuring his wife Charlotte, dad Dave, plus John Bowe and Brad Jones in the player below.
Jason, Angus Fogg and Team Kiwi made their V8 Supercar debuts in the Bathurst 1000 in November 2000 at the wheel of an ex-Perkins Commodore. The rookies splashed their way around the Mountain to finish a very creditable 16th place in the capacity 55 car field.
Jason’s first full-time V8 Supercar season came at the wheel of the TKR #021 Commodore. This was the year that Pukekohe debuted on the V8 Supercar Championship calendar, giving Richards and his team a home event.
He and Fogg paired up to finish 16th again at Bathurst, this time after starting from pit lane due to a practice accident that wiped the back off the black Holden.
Another full-time season with Team Kiwi Racing and the signs of improvement were showing. Richards finished a brilliant third in Race 2 in Canberra (and ninth overall) and ran home 11th at Bathurst with Simon Wills co-driving.
Jason moved to the new Team Dynamik based in Adelaide for 2003 at the wheel of a VY Commodore. This season was highlighted by his Sandown 500 performance, dicing with Mark Skaife in the slippery conditions for the lead, only to run off the road while making the pass for the lead. A roll over at Pukekohe gave ‘JR’ headlines for different reasons. His best result for the year of fifth came in the 300-kilometre race at Oran Park.
Richards moved to the Sydney-based Tasman Motorsport for ’04, the former Lansvale Smash Repairs privateer team rebranded in the wake of new investment from new owners including Kevin Murphy and Tim Miles. An older VX Commodore gave way to a new VY model and the results began to improve, seventh overall at Oran Park and the Gold Coast his best of the year.
A breakout year – Tasman moved from Sydney to Melbourne and expanded to two cars with Richards joined by Jamie Whincup. The Kiwi survived a wild series of rolls at Queensland Raceway, his rebuilt Dodo Commodore the very same one he and Whincup used to take their first V8 Supercar podium finish at the Sandown 500 in. Their third place in Melbourne was improved for Bathurst where the duo ran home a close second.
Richards’ third year with Tasman came with the team adopting a rotating sponsorship program, unique for the time but commonplace thesedays. The Kiwi took his first and only V8 Supercar race win in ’06 – in the reverse grid race at Winton – with his best round result of fourth coming in Darwin.
The VE Commodore made its debut in the V8 Supercar class for ’07 and Richards was joined by Greg Murphy as teammate. They narrowly missed the podium at Bathurst and finished as the top Holden in fourth place. Richards grabbed a podium result on the Gold Coast a fortnight later, third overall for the round.
Richards’ last year with Tasman Motorsport. Generally, a tough year overall for results for the team, but again the Kiwi shone at Bathurst where he and Murphy finished runners-up.
Jason’s first year with Brad Jones Racing landed him at the wheel of the #8 Team BOC Commodore. He took his first V8 Supercar pole position in the Top 10 Shootout in Darwin and teamed up with Cam McConville to take second place at Bathurst, Jason’s third Bathurst 1000 podium finish.
His last full-time season in V8 Supercars, this year saw Jason teammates with Jason Bright. Richards and Andrew Jones provided the BOC team’s highlight of the year with a third place in the Phillip Island 500.
The Symmons Plains round in November proved to be his last championship race start as the news of his cancer diagnosis broke just before the penultimate round at Sandown.
Richards’ health forced him to vacate his seat with BJR for the V8 Supercars Championship, however he returned for the non-points event at Albert Park at the Australian Grand Prix. In a soul-stirring drive he led Race 2, eventually settling for second place behind Garth Tander. No one who witnessed that race live will ever forget it. It was simply magic.
Additionally, Richards competed in the first round of the Fujitsu Series (now Super2) in a Greg Murphy Racing Commodore in Adelaide. In a fairytale result, the Kiwi won the second race, sending the grandstand into rapturous applause.