IN his visit to the V8 Sleuth Podcast, Lee Holdsworth told us of a Strange But True happening during his time at Garry Rogers Motorsport.
He was prompted by a query in our National Motor Racing Museum Couch Racer Questions segment: Daniel Sugden asked him to describe the effect of removing the front undertray and rear wing off a VZ Supercar.
Holdsworth chuckled at the memory: “I was the guinea pig!
“(Garry Rogers) wanted to put the point forward to the board that we don’t need downforce.”
Listen to the full episodes in the players below!
During 2006, Garry Rogers Motorsport conducted a test at Winton where Holdsworth drove one of the team’s race cars without its chief downforce-generating devices.
The test was done on behalf of TEGA as it considered ways of reducing what’s more commonly referred to now as ‘aero wash’ – a loss of downforce when running close to the car ahead – and thus improve drivers’ ability to race and pass.
“The problem is that the cars have too much downforce,” then-V8 Supercars chief executive Wayne Cattach told Auto Action at the time.
“They had a look to see what difference there is when they removed all the downforce from it.
“The results were predictable: longer braking distances and a car that’s edgier, moving around a little more on the track.”
Even 15 years after the event, Holdsworth’s memories of driving the evil-handling car were crystal clear.
“I can tell you it was the worst car I’ve ever driven! There was just no downforce at all,” Holdsworth told the V8 Sleuth Podcast.
“It’s not like it just being like a Touring Car Masters car after that.
“It takes everything away, any balance in the car or any driveability; you can’t pull it up under brakes because it locks the rears.
“The way that the cars are developed, they’re developed around having that aero.
“If you started with no aero, then you develop the car to suit that package – like a TCM car. But a Supercar, you take the aero off it … it’s bad.”
Many photos of V8 Supercars-spec VZ Commodores – albeit none without their rear wings! – appear 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!
At the time Cattach said the test had given TEGA “another thing to consider,” however history shows that a radical move to strip Supercars of their wings never went ahead.
Click HERE to read more tales of the Strange But True!