The HSV Dealer Team Commodore of Garth Tander and Rick Kelly at Sandown, 2005. Photo: / Graeme Neander.

FORMER Holden Special Vehicles and TWR Australia boss John Crennan has revealed that plans for a ‘HSV Team NZ’ V8 Supercar squad were in play 20 years ago, but that the planned team morphed into Kmart Racing at the behest of Holden.

Crennan revealed the information in his latest column in the January issue of Torque’N’8’s, the magazine of the HSV Owners Club Victoria.

Kmart Racing was established in 2001 with Greg Murphy and Todd Kelly driving as a sister operation to the Holden Racing Team under the TWR Australia umbrella.

It was based on the same Clayton Business Park and was run out of the workshop that had the year prior run Kelly’s Commodore under the Holden Young Lions banner.

A range of photos of these cars run from the Clayton Business Park under the HRT/Kmart/Young Lions/TWR Australia banners are featured in our book, Racing the Lion: An Illustrated History of Holden in Australian Motorsport’.

The 400-page hardcover book pays tribute to the marque’s rich competition history, which spans over seven decades.

It’s now in stock in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop – click HERE to order your copy.

“After 4 Championship wins I set about taking HRT’s winning formula and strong resource base to expand our two car Team to four by setting up a newly branded ‘HSV Team NZ’ (located at Clayton) with Greg Murphy as a driver given the huge importance of our HSV sales in NZ,” wrote Crennan.

“My idea of these two extra cars turned into a tumultuous January (in 2001) with a rather unpleasant stand-off between myself and Holden. 

Todd Kelly was the first to race a Kmart Racing/TWR Australia Commodore, at Albert Park in 2001. Photo: / Graeme Neander.

“They would only approve the HRT expansion provided we took on the Kmart sponsorship given the Coles/Kmart strategic importance to Holden Fleet sales.

“We had a classic situation of HSV wanting an expansion of HRT to four cars so we could boost our strategic relationship and sales with our New Zealand business partners while Holden, on the other hand, insisting the expansion should be implemented to suit their sales objectives.

“Given the Golden Rule, Holden won this battle… those who have the most Gold always rule!

“A massive meeting took place on January 16, 2001 in the office of Holden’s CEO Peter Hanenberger, who putting it mildly would never take ‘no’ for an answer when it came to pushing the limits of aggressive business plans.”

Plans for a HSV-branded team eventually came to be in 2005 after the departure of Kmart as naming rights sponsor. 

Renamed the HSV Dealer Team and then the Toll HSV Dealer Team with the addition of naming rights backing from the transport giant, the squad won the V8 Supercar Driver’s Championship in 2006 with Rick Kelly and in 2007 with Garth Tander. 

The HSV Dealer Team ended at the end of 2008 when the Kelly family took its franchises away from the Walkinshaw group and formed the standalone Kelly Racing for 2009.

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.