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Rare V8 Supercar hillclimb footage unearthed

SEEING a current V8 Supercar compete in a round of a state hillclimb championship is relatively rare but, as some recently rediscovered footage shows, it was very much the case in 1998.

V8 privateer John Faulkner took to competing in that year’s Golden Mile Hillclimb at Ararat’s One Tree Hill on December 6, which was the seventh and final round of that year’s Victorian Hillclimb Championship and run by the Ballarat Light Car Club.

Faulkner set fastest time of the day at 44.89-seconds to win outright and also claimed the Peter Janson Perpetual Trophy for fastest touring car.

Faulkner’s time eclipsed the full course record set by Stan Keen’s Formula Brabham Shrike in 1993 of 45.84-seconds.

The Ararat course was run to its full length of 1600 metres at the time, though it was later reduced to a shorted distance due to safety with a chicane added partway up just after the first kink. A second chicane was later added further up the course and the long course returned to use by the Ararat Car Club in recent years.

Faulkner brought his #46 Betta Electrical/Fisher & Paykel Commodore VS, team transporter and a handful of crew members – including now Erebus Motorsport boss Barry Ryan – at the end of the 1998 V8 Supercar season, just a few weeks after that year’s FAI 1000 Classic at Bathurst.

Faulkner spoke about the topic of the 1998 hillclimb in an episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast with host Aaron Noonan back in 2020.

The pathway to him competing in the event had started via the expat Kiwi previously being a guest speaker at a Ballarat Light Car Club function. After being asked at Bathurst in 1998 by hillclimb director David ‘Barney’ Haddon if he’d be up for making the trip to Ararat a few weeks later, Faulkner and his team duly obliged.

His #46 Commodore was originally built by the Holden Racing Team. Named ‘Beth’, it had been raced at Bathurst by Peter Brock and Tomas Mezera in 1994 and purchased by Faulkner in 1996 for his move into what was then known as five-litre V8 touring cars.

The history of this car – and all other Holden Racing Team Commodores – is told in V8 Sleuth’s hardcover collector’s book that features the racing histories of all of the team’s race cars, it’s available here on sale in the V8 Sleuth Superstore.

If you look closely at the footage, you’ll spot a certain chap in a black T-shirt holding the starting block stopping Faulkner from rolling back.

It’s none other than that year’s Australian Touring Car Champion Craig Lowndes, who attended the event for the weekend.

WATCH: John Faulkner warms up and takes off at Ararat in 1998

Faulkner wasn’t the first nor last touring car ace to bring his touring car to Ararat.

‘The Captain’ Peter Janson was a regular with his Toranas in the 1970s and Bob Jones and Anthony Tratt took part in the event in 1993 when it was held as the Australian Hillclimb Championship.

Jones drove his Ampol Max 3 Commodore VP while Tratt drove the Toll Express VL Commodore Group A SV he’d driven with Janson in that year’s Sandown 500.

Ballarat V8 Supercar privateer Robert Smith ran his Smith’s Trucks-backed ex-‘Truckie’ Parsons Commodore in the 1999 event having previously run his previous ex-Marathon Foods VL Group A SV Commodore.

WATCH: 1994 Ararat Hillclimb TV Commercial

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