WITH the Bathurst 1000 just around the corner, we put out the call for your suggestions for a couple of ‘Great Race’ themed editions of Saturday Sleuthing leading up to the big race.
One question we received from multiple people asked about which Supercars chassis has the most ‘Great Race’ starts under its belt.
It definitely isn’t one of the cars in this year’s race: four is the greatest number of previous starts of any of the Car of the Future chassis that will line up on the grid at Mount Panorama later this month.
The honour goes to a car built in the earliest days of the ‘Five Litre Touring Car’ era in 1993, one that began a new era for the reigning championship and Bathurst victors.
The end of the Group A era meant Gibson Motorsport had to park its all-conquering Nissan GT-Rs at the end of 1992, and the team elected to make the switch to Holden Commodore machinery for the start of the new rules.
GMS 001 was the first Commodore built by the team, and went on to make a total of seven Bathurst 1000 starts – although only one was with its original constructors.
Jim Richards debuted the car at Eastern Creek’s non-championship Winfield Triple Challenge event in January, then retained it for the Australian Touring Car Championship.
The four-time series champion took the final solo round wins of his career at Barbagallo and Oran Park aboard GMS 001 to finish the season as the best-placed Holden with fourth in the standings.
The car is among the hundreds of photos in the new book Racing the Lion: An Illustrated History of Holden in Australian Motorsport, a 400-page hardcover book paying tribute to the marque’s rich competition history spanning over seven decades.
It’s now in stock in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop – click HERE to order!
While Richards joined teammate Mark Skaife in the team’s #1 entry for Bathurst, GMS 001 played host to the late Swedish racer Anders Olofsson and David Brabham.
While the lead car fought an ultimately losing battle for the win, Brabham and Oloffson brought the team’s second car home in fourth place – enough to earn the youngest of Sir Jack’s sons the Rookie of the Year award.
Richards returned to the cockpit of GMS 001 for the end-of-year Adelaide Grand Prix sprints and the 1994 Winfield Triple Challenge, but a major crash due to a punctured tyre in the final race meant it was the car’s last meeting with Gibson Motorsport.
The car was repaired during the year and sold to Alan ‘Scotty’ Taylor, whose privateer outfit was responsible for the car’s other six starts in the ‘Great Race’.
Retaining the bulk of the base Winfield livery despite its move under The Xerox Shop banner, GMS 001 took part in a handful of championship races throughout the late 1990s and was present on the Bathurst 1000 grid for the remainder of the decade.
Taylor, Roger Hurd and Stephen Bell drove the car to a steady 11th place in the 1995 Tooheys 1000, a result that proved the car’s best at Mount Panorama with the privateer squad.
Bill Attard joined Taylor and Bell for Bathurst in 1996, when they finished in 18th place, and the 1997 race where the red Commodore was running at the chequered flag but failed to complete enough laps to be classified as a finisher.
The car was upgraded to VS panelwork in time for the 1998 race, where a 15th place for Taylor, Attard and Bell proved the car’s last finish in the ‘Great Race’.
Taylor and Attard lasted just six laps in the 1999 race, while Attard and Hurd made it to the 81st lap before engine problems put them out in 2000.
GMS 001 returned to the Mountain in 2001 but failed to qualify for the main race, Attard instead piloting the car to 10th place in the Konica Challenge race after starting from the rear of the grid.
While that proved to be the car’s final race in period, it wasn’t the car’s final trip to Mount Panorama.
Stephen Voight purchased the car in 2002 and put it back to a Winfield-era livery before taking part in the parade celebrating the Commodore’s 25th anniversary prior to the 2003 Bathurst 1000.
The car remained in the Queenslander’s hands for the remainder of the decade before being sold in 2010 to a motorsport enthusiast in Perth, who retains the car to this day.
The car saw track action in sprint events at Barbagallo Raceway several years ago, and the owner intends to have the car back out on track again soon.
“I’ve built a house in the meantime, so everything went on hold,” the owner told V8 Sleuth.
“Some things had to get freshened up engine-wise and it’ll be back to doing club events this year. But other than that, very little has happened during that period – which is so disappointing for me!”
The car still wears VS Commodore panelwork but the owner intends to return the car back to its original VP specifications, and had secured a lot of the Gibson team’s former stock of VP panels prior to his purchase of GMS 001.
“The plan is to run it in some club events for probably the next two years in its VR/VS guise, then return it to VP after that,” the owner said.
“Although I’m still searching for a left hand side new-old-stock rear quarter panel!”
While GMS 001 has to its name the most Bathurst 1000 starts of any chassis from the Supercars era, it isn’t the car with the most ‘Great Race’ starts of any car.
That honour belongs to Bob Holden’s original Group A Toyota Corolla which made a total of nine Bathurst 1000 starts, the last of which came in 1993; its last Bathurst coincided with the first Bathurst for GMS 001!
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