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HomeNews'Major, major sausage': Dugal McDougall's lucky escape

‘Major, major sausage’: Dugal McDougall’s lucky escape

MAY 16, 1999 was a red-letter day for the Holden Racing Team but, as this edition of Ryco Rewind explains, that is not what this day in Supercars history is best remembered for.

That honour goes to a monster shunt by Dugal McDougall at the end of the opening race of that year’s Shell Championship Series at Phillip Island.

The long-time Formula Ford racer moved up to Supercars for 1999 with a Holden Commodore VS run out of Perkins Engineering.

McDougall was on the run to the chequered flag when he hit a puddle and aquaplaned onto the grass verge, the #16 Holden hitting the earth-filled tyre barrier at almost unabated speed.

The enormous accident wasn’t captured by the broadcast cameras, only the aftermath with the severely damaged car after it came to rest past the start-finish line, on its side and on fire.

Or, as commentator Barry Sheene famously put it: “What a major, major sausage that is; look at the state of it!”

The remains of McDougall’s car went on to be used for training marshalls by PIARC. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The two-wheel legend wasn’t wrong: the car was a complete write-off, with McDougall extraordinarily lucky to escape without serious injury.

The aftermath footage has lived on in highlight reels since, gaining additional notoriety through its regular use in one of the closers for Channel 10 sports program Sports Tonight in the years that followed, punctuated with Sheene’s iconic ‘sausage’ line.

McDougall’s wasn’t the only Perkins Engineering-built car to be crunched that weekend, though.

Larry Perkins sat out the weekend entirely after pancaking the back of the #11 Castrol Holden at what is now known as Stoner Corner during Saturday’s opening wet practice session.

Perkins’ battered Commodore returning to the pits after his misadventure. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

McDougall also wasn’t the only driver to have a sizable shunt on race day.

Jason Bargwanna had been another to aquaplane on the front straight during Race 1, the damage sidelining his Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden for the rest of the day.

Bargs’ accident called for a three-lap Safety Car period, which highlighted a quirk of the rules of the day for sprint races.

The first five laps of Safety Car running didn’t count towards the scheduled distance, so while the field actually did 15 laps in Race 1, only 12 of them counted – which then became 11 laps, when the results were backdated a lap for McDougall’s crash.

The Hot Wheels Safety Car leads the field during the opening race. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

At the front of the field, though, it was all about the HRT.

Its Commodores finished first and second in all three races, Mark Skaife winning the first two on his way to claiming the round overall, while points leader Craig Lowndes nabbed the third.

It’s often forgotten, too, that the last race took place on a completely dry track – it was only the first race that was run in heavy rain, while the track was still quite wet beyond the racing line during the second.

The clean sweep for HRT meant it had won all 10 of the season’s races to that point and extended its streak in championship races to 13, dating back to Lowndes’ domination of the final round of the 1998 season.

However, HRT didn’t have things entirely its own way at the Island.

Seton trailing the HRT duo out of the Honda Hairpin. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

Pole position went to Glenn Seton, his first since Eastern Creek in 1997 and the first since his team was rebranded from Glenn Seton Racing to Ford Tickford Racing.

The factory-backed Ford pilot was the closest challenger to the factory-backed Holdens on race day too, completing the podium with a pair of third placings and a fourth.

It could’ve been a sweep of third placings as he’d passed Russell Ingall for the spot on the final lap of Race 1 when the ‘Enforcer’ ran wide at Doohan Corner, but Seton ended up back in fourth place when the results were backdated one lap after McDougall’s accident.

The continuation of the HRT domination also meant the ‘Blue Oval’s race victory drought extended into an eighth round in another streak dating back to 1998.

Ford’s most recent victory had come at the hands of John Bowe in the opening race at Mallala the previous year, and its run of outs now stood at 23 races as its teams struggled to get the new AU Falcon up to speed.

McLean already had a sizable lead by the time he got to the hairpin on the opening lap of the Privateer’s Dash. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

One Falcon pilot that was right up to speed was Cameron McLean, then in his first season as a Supercars privateer after making the switch from Super Touring.

McLean dominated the opening race of the weekend – the Privateer’s Dash, held in dry conditions on Saturday afternoon – in his Dick Johnson Racing-built EL Falcon, winning the eight-lap sprint by a margin of over 10 seconds!

The full report on the race meeting featured in Issue 153 of Motorsport News, which can now be read in full online as part of AN1 Media’s work to digitise the publication’s archive.

This story is the latest in our series of Ryco Rewind stories as we take a look back through Australian motorsport history and explore the great races, drivers and cars from the past on the relevant anniversary.

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