JAMES Courtney was the driver tabbed to pair with Peter Brock in the Holden icon’s last Bathurst 1000 back in 2004.
The future Supercars Champion was the original driver down to share the famous #05 Commodore with Brock 12 years ago when the nine-time race winner did a deal with then-HRT boss Mark Skaife to make his final Mount Panorama appearance in a factory-run car.
Courtney made the revelation to V8 Sleuth’s Aaron Noonan during filming in 2016 for FOX SPORTS’ 24/7 Bathurst channel that operated in the week of that year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Along with old Bathurst races, four special, one-hour documentaries aired in the lead-up to that year’s ‘Great Race’, one of which focused on Brock.
A range of then-current and former drivers and industry figures were interviewed for the four programs with the V8 Sleuth extracting plenty of never-before-told stories from a range of top-line names in the sport.
“In 2004 there was an opportunity to do Bathurst with Brock,” Courtney revealed during filming for the FOX SPORTS programming.
“It would have been amazing. I was really, really pumped and excited about it all happening. But then some dates clashed with the program I was doing (All-Japan GT Championship) and it didn’t end up coming off in the end.”
British Touring Car star Jason Plato ended up taking the seat alongside Brock, which ended in disaster when he tagged the wall early in the Bathurst race and was then crashed into by an unsighted John Cleland while the #05 Holden limped slowly back to the pits.
“It’s probably one thing that would have been a big highlight of my career being his last Bathurst,” says Courtney of the Brock opportunity.
“The relationship I had with him, Alan (Gow) my manager and everyone, it was an intertwined group of blokes who were so tight for so many years.”
Gow, who has managed Courtney since he moved into car racing over a decade ago, ran Brock’s race team post the Holden icon’s split with the manufacturing giant in 1987.
He later headed to England to work with Brock’s Bathurst Ford Sierra co-driver Andy Rouse and then ran TOCA and the BTCC.
UPDATE: Gow backed up the story on the V8 Sleuth Podcast in 2020 – listen to the episodes in the player below!
While Courtney didn’t get to join HRT for Bathurst in 2004, he was free for the following year and made his Supercars debut in the team’s second entry alongside Jim Richards at the Sandown 500 in 2005.
He eventually signed to drive for the team full-time in 2011 as reigning Supercars Champion and went on to race for them for nine seasons – the last two under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner – before parting ways at the end of 2019.