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Wednesday, May 29, 2024


AUSTRALIAN motorsport history could look very different had plans to have Craig Lowndes test a Dick Johnson Racing Falcon come to fruition.

Lowndes burst onto the scene at the 1994 Bathurst 1000, famously duking it out for victory against DJR’s John Bowe.

But Lowndes could well have been on DJR’s side that day, had it not been for a scrapped test.

As his team does nowadays, Dick Johnson had an arrangement at the time whereby the Australian Formula Ford Championship winner earnt a test in one of his V8 Supercars.

Lowndes was in line to do just that after clinching the 1993 national Formula Ford title.

“I was supposed to get a test drive with Dick Johnson in the Shell Falcon,” the now seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner says on this week’s edition of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco.

“It never happened because Dick got the shits because he gave Cameron McConville, who won it in 1992 – the year before me – Cam in ‘93 got the drive at Bathurst and crashed at the top of The Mountain.

“So, at that point, Dick had got a bit of a sour taste about young people, especially obviously with the investment and the value of the cars, putting young people in a Supercar, or a touring car back then.

“So I never got my test drive.”

As Lowndes indicated, McConville graduated from winning the 1992 Australian Formula Ford Championship, but blotted his copybook by crashing the #18 Falcon he was sharing with Paul Radisich whilst running at the pointy end of the ’93 Great Race.

With the DJR opportunity not eventuating for Lowndes, HRT swooped, forging a relationship that netted three championships and a Bathurst 1000 win.

Lowndes (right) and Cameron McConville with the Shell #17. Pic: an1images.com

“That’s when HRT rang up,” Lowndes continued.

“I remember the phone call, I was sitting in the lounge with Mum and Dad; Jeff Grech rang up and basically said, ‘look we have got a test day out at Calder Park, do you want to come out and be part of it?’

“I did all the sort of anchor work of bedding in brakes, gearboxes, all the diffs, all the things we used to do back then, and then right at the end of the day he said, ‘alright, I’ll give you an opportunity to do some laps.’

“That’s how that all sort of came about.”

Lowndes never wound up driving for DJR; he has now been embedded at its arch-rivals Triple Eight Race Engineering for 18 years.

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