OUTRIGHT LAP RECORD HOLDER RETURNS TO AUSTRALIA

Tim Leahey at Oran Park in 2000. He and this Reynard 92D will forever hold bragging rights as the fastest in history around the new defunct circuit. Photo: an1images.com / Graeme Neander.

THE Formula Holden Reynard 92D that will forever hold the outright lap record at the now defunct Oran Park Raceway has returned to Australia and is being brought back to life.

Tim Leahey set the 1m01.6718s lap record back in 2000 in a Greg Murphy Racing-run Reynard 92D and now the Orange-based racer and car dealer has acquired the car.

The Oran Park circuit closed in January 2010 and was bulldozed, replaced by residential and shopping areas in what is now known as Oran Park Town.

Believed to have been originally driven by Rubens Barrichello in the 1992 International Formula 3000 Championship, the 92D was later raced by a range of drivers as a Formula Holden with a 3.8-litre V6 Holden engine installed.

Greg Murphy, Simon Wills, Todd Kelly, Peter Hill, Emerson Newton-John and Leahey all drove the car at various stages of its time in Formula Holden.

The car also still holds the Formula Holden lap record at Sydney Motorsport Park.

“The car was sold to America after its time in Formula Holden was finished,” Leahey told V8 Sleuth this week.

Supercar star Will Davison paid Leahey’s workshop a visit recently and couldn’t resist trying the 92D’s cockpit for size. Photo: Will Davison.

“It may have been used as something of an Indy Lights training car or something along those lines and it’s just sat around ever since.

“I’ve got the chassis back here sitting on the mezzanine at work (Leahey runs Central West Prestige in Orange) and I am waiting on a container to arrive that has the front and rear wings, steering wheel and undertray.

“You can see the green paint (from its time racing in Australia with Leahey driving) underneath the black paint, it’s definitely the car I raced. Now it’s a case of working out what to do with it next.”

Leahey finished fourth in the 2000 Formula Holden championship, a year in which he showed plenty of speed though his car proved to be hit and miss from a reliability point of view.

Unquestionably the highlight of his year came at Winton where he took pole position and both race wins with an engine borrowed from Arthur Abrahams’ NRC Racing team after his regular unit blew up in practice.

Leahey heads Simon Wills and the rest of the pack at Winton on his way to victory in 2000. Photo: an1images.com / Graeme Neander.

“That car was super-fast but was super unreliable,” recalls Leahey.

“The late Jon Porter was my engineer that year and he and I just gelled so well. Between us we made that car super-fast.

“When he passed away his wife Margaret sent me the whole setup book from that year with Jon’s handwriting in it of all of the setups and changes we made to the car that year.”

Leahey, who won the 2019 Bathurst 6 Hour in a BMW with Beric Lynton, says he’s yet to quite decide which livery to place the car back in.

“I reckon we’ll get it fixed up and put it back the way it was in 2000 with the Boost Mobile signage, maybe how it ran at Oran Park given it’s forever going to hold the outright lap record from there,” he says.

“I reckon we’ll get it fixed up, give it a run, build a bar at home and then just sit it there and stand around it and tell racing stories over a few beers!”

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.