STRANGE BUT TRUE: CRAIG GORE’S SAVAGE SANDOWN SPRAY

Craig Gore made his views on his team's performance in the 2004 Sandown 500 explicitly clear. Pics: an1images/Dirk Klynsmith

FORMER V8 Supercars team owner Craig Gore was back in the headlines in November 2020 – for all the wrong reasons.

The former high-flyer was sentenced to five years in prison – with a non-parole period of two years – after a Brisbane court found him guilty on six counts of fraud totalling $345,000.

Gore and his Wright Patton Shakespeare financial services company were a big part of the Australian motorsport scene in the 2000s, a period where Gore co-owned a Team Australia-branded Champ Car squad and supported Marcos Ambrose’s debut season of stock car racing in the NASCAR Trucks Series.

Most memorably, Gore owned his own V8 Supercars squad – WPS Racing – and was one of the more outspoken identities in the paddock.

Mark Noske and David Besnard at the launch of WPS Racing in early 2004. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

In the team’s first season, 2004, both its cars were black-flagged from a morning warm-up session for carrying ‘No Money from Ford’ logos on their windscreen banners, a protest against their lack of financial support from the manufacturer.

Gore was also not shy in calling a spade a bloody shovel when it came to his own team, either, most spectacularly after the 2004 Sandown 500.

Its maiden season had already been turbulent. Foundation driver Mark Noske split with the team mid-season, while it recruited former Formula 1 racer Alex Yoong to drive a second car alongside lead driver David Besnard.

At Sandown Besnard was partnered by Charlie O’Brien, making his final Supercars race start at short notice to replace an unwell Neil McFadyen, while Yoong was joined by Kiwi John McIntyre.

The race was marred by 12 separate Safety Car periods across the race, five of which were caused by or involved one of the two WPS Falcons spinning off and getting bogged in the muddy outfield.

The post-race joke among fans was that WPS stood for ‘We Produce Safety cars’ – ironic given the company also sponsored the championship’s Safety Car at the time…

The #23 Besnard/O’Brien car carried the marks of its trips through the Sandown outfield. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Ten days later, Gore sent out his post-race wrap of the event.

Long after the fact, Gore’s words still make for remarkable reading. It’s hard to imagine any V8 Supercars team owner delivering a public pull-through of their team and drivers in quite this manner.

As much as we all want the people within the sport to show more emotion, it’s a reminder to be careful what you wish for.

In a twist of fate, WPS Racing claimed its first Supercars race win a few weeks later when a well-timed pit stop helped Besnard claim a victory at Symmons Plains.

Here’s Gore’s 2004 Sandown 500 wrap reproduced in full below:

DEVASTATING RESULT

First the summary. Disgusting, disappointing, absolutely gutted, heartache for the team and any fans we have left.

I look at the result and reflect back on the four weeks of constant effort we applied in both theory and practice in preparation for Sandown and I can only say I am astounded and disappointed.

Our driver, and I’m thinking especially of Bezzy when I say this, took it upon himself to be a superstar and went against every plan we put together … and that was after just one bloody turn into a 500km race.

He deserves to have his nuts cut out and put on his ears. I haven’t been able to speak to him since I gave him a serve after the race.

It was disappointing that his co-driver Neil McFadyen got crook ahead of the race but, to his credit, Neil did push on during practice on Friday.

It was a set-back when he was ruled unfit to continue but he is a talented kid and has a lot of racing ahead of him. You don’t win the races he has won and then go out and not put a time on the board around Sandown unless something is up.

When we were forced to replace him with Charlie O’Brien it made it a little difficult but it certainly wasn’t an insurmountable problem.

I’m ashamed of the result we ultimately delivered to the team, the sponsors, my fellow board members, all our staff and, most importantly, my bank manager (ha ha).

The team worked their arses off and they had our cars going sensationally, as you would have seen by the times we were clocking on the Friday. But as things fell apart we fell apart. We tried too hard to recover.

Bezzy is a seriously talented driver. He just needs to understand this is a team sport and requires a team effort to win. Unless he understands that and starts to recognise that I’m afraid he won’t taste a V8 Supercar victory again. Let’s hope he turns it around.

Our other car, with Alex Yoong and John McIntyre, did a great job until the mid stages of the race when I reckon fatigue got the better of both of them. From then our plans fell apart and we failed to recover.

Overall it was a good effort by John and Alex but in the future we need to stay focused for the entire race.

The #48 Yoong/McIntyre was also caked in mud after its off-track excursions. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

In summary, I believe difficult situations are presented to warn off the weak. I’m devastated we embarrassed ourselves and the sport but I’m committed to turning it round and I’m here for the next three years whether I like it or not & and whether you fans like it or not.

In any case, I don’t take any solace in that Zig Ziggler positive bullshit that says from your worst comes your best (blah blah blah). We were a complete and absolute embarrassment.

I hope Bezzy engages his brain next time he gets in the car and leads by example so the other drivers in the team have something to follow.

At Bathurst he has to understand that you can’t have any off-road excursions without risking your life. If he starts to think about that when he gets in the car then he might be more focused on keeping it on the god damn bitumen and leading his team, as a good leader should lead, by example to victory.

Victory for us at Bathurst would be finishing the race without coming off and sticking to the #@$%!#% race plan.

Check ya,
Gory

Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.