LOWNDES’ FIRST 1994 HRT COMMODORE COMING BACK TO LIFE

The HRT 026 chassis has been undergoing restoration with competition not far away. Photo: Supplied.

CRAIG Lowndes’ first Holden Racing Team Commodore is coming back to life – and will be restored as his #016 HRT Commodore VP that he raced at the Adelaide Grand Prix support event in Adelaide in 1994.

The car, owned by a private collector, has undergone plenty of work in recent months and is getting closer to being completed.

“We’re up to finishing bolting the brakes together, we were lucky enough to get a setup sheet from Adelaide 1994 so we know we have the right callipers,” the owner of chassis HRT 026 told v8sleuth.com.au this week.

“The engine, gearbox and diff are all there, the tail shaft as well, the fuel system is pretty well done and we’re waiting on a radiator that PWR is making for us from a sample.

“The fuel lines and oil lines are done, we’ve got a correct seat, the stickering is all finished and ready to be applied, most of the wiring is sorted and most of it has been put in, so it’s not that far off being finished.”

Over the course of its life the car’s jacking system was changed from the front of the grill to the B-pillar, so it’s being restored to its original location at the front of the car, as it ran when it was a VP Commodore with HRT.

The original dash from the car – complete with CAMS race sticker – has been sourced for the car and it also has the original steering wheel and steering column.

“A lot of the parts came from the car and otherwise we’ve spent a lot of time hunting down and working out and finding out how it was ‘back in the day’ through the help of a lot of old photos,” he says.

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The HRT 026 chassis has had a long life, in fact it began its racing days as HRT’s first Group A VN Commodore race car used by Win Percy during the 1991 Australian Touring Car Championship.

It was then used by Tomas Mezera on occasion when he joined the team in 1992 and was updated to VP specification for he and Brad Jones to drive in that year’s Sandown and Bathurst endurance races.

Mezera retained this chassis for the first half of 1993 before an accident at Winton forced it to the sidelines until he stepped back into it for the Adelaide Grand Prix meeting.

He again raced it during the ’94 ATCC however it would become an important chassis in Craig Lowndes’ career during that season. 

It was the car in which the young gun had his first test for HRT at Calder partway through that season and the first V8 touring car he drove at Bathurst later that year given it was used as the #015 car at the ‘Hot August Lap’ media day.

The chassis was taken to Mount Panorama that October though as the #05T test/training car to assist Lowndes in learning the track – in fact this was the very last year that teams were permitted ‘T’ cars (they were banned for 1995).

The HRT 026 chassis became Lowndes’ car for the Adelaide Grand Prix at the end of the year where he competed as part of a three-car HRT outfit for the weekend alongside Peter Brock and Mezera.

It later competed with a handful of privateers including Michael Hart, Peter Lawrence, Terry Wyhoon and Clyde Lawrence and was also raced by James Brock, who co-drove it with Wyhoon at Bathurst in 2000.

Another ex-HRT Commodore – chassis HRT 028 – is being restored at the moment and we reported on this car in June 5 of this year.

Follow the Facebook page documenting HRT 026’s restoration here.

With over 20 years in the Australian motorsport industry, Noonan is the head of V8 Sleuth. He’s held a range of roles including working in television with Seven and Ten, print media and public relations. With a specialty in Australian motorsport history, he’s known around racing paddocks as ’the Sleuth’ and started his motorsport media career in 1997.