STRANGE BUT TRUE: WHEN POLE WAS THE LUCK OF THE DRAW

The Peter Jackson Dash determined the top six positions on the grid at ATCC rounds between 1992 and mid-1994. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

IT’S possible to argue that an element of good fortune plays at least a minute role in every pole position earnt in Supercars Championship history.

However, luck has never played a greater role than during the era where a three lap sprint race with randomised grid positions determined pole position along with the top six positions on the grid!

The Peter Jackson Dash ran from 1992 through to the end of the 1995 championship – the last before legislation banning cigarette sponsorship of national sporting events came into force – and were shown live during Channel 7’s Sunday morning ‘Sports World’ program.

The format was simple: the six fastest cars from regular qualifying took part in a three-lap dash on the morning of the race, and the finishing positions dictated the grid positions for the opening race, while the first three finishers also received championship points.

However – and this is where luck played a greater role than normal – the Dash’s starting positions were determined by the drivers blindly drawing a number from 1 through 6 from envelopes!

The Dashes eventually stopped setting grids during the 1994 season after outcry from competitors, with the focus changing to awarding championship points for passing cars (so long as you finished in the top three!), while the field size expanded to 10 cars for the Dash’s final season in 1995.

All up, the Peter Jackson Dashes dictated the polesitter on 22 occasions between Amaroo Park 1992 and Phillip Island 1994.

So who were the big winners and losers, and how did the Dash affect drivers’ career stats?

Anecdotally, Glenn Seton was always regarded as the driver worst affected by the draw for grid positions – ironic, given Peter Jackson was also his sponsor!

The numbers back that up: in that period, Seton was the fastest qualifier on six occasions but drew the #1 card just twice and didn’t win any of the 17 Dashes he started.

In fact, had the Dash not set grid positions, Seton would have taken six consecutive poles during the 1993 season, a feat that would have ranked him equal fourth on the list of championship pole position streaks!

In a further twist of fate, Seton finally won a Dash at Lakeside in 1994, the first one that didn’t count for grid positions…

His crook record in the Peter Jackson Dashes is something Seton touches on in his upcoming book Seto: The Official Racing History of Glenn Seton, a 320 page hardcover book due out at the end of this year.

Click HERE to pre-order and secure your copy from the V8 Sleuth Bookshop!

Nine drivers in total had their career pole numbers effected by the Dash: Seton, John Bowe, Peter Brock, Wayne Gardner, Dick Johnson, Alan Jones, Tomas Mezera, Jim Richards and Mark Skaife.

The big winners were Johnson and Skaife: each had been the fastest qualifier just once in that period, but they each picked up a total of five Dash wins – a net gain of four career poles!

The others were impacted to varying degrees with one exception: Peter Brock’s career pole tally of 57 would have been unaffected as he was fastest qualifier on just one occasion in that period, and he won just one Dash.

And in case you’re wondering, the fastest qualifier went on to win the Dash on just four occasions:

  • 1992 Wanneroo – Bowe
  • 1992 Oran Park – Bowe
  • 1993 Amaroo Park – Mezera
  • 1994 Amaroo Park – Skaife

Here’s a rundown on how the Peter Jackson Dash affected the career pole tallies of some of the biggest names in the championship.

DriverFastest QualifierDash WinnerNet Change
John Bowe8 (1992 Amaroo, Sandown, Symmons Plains, Eastern Creek, Wanneroo, Oran Park; 1993 Oran Park; 1994 Symmons Plains)6 (1992 Lakeside, Mallala, Wanneroo, Oran Park; 1993 Eastern Creek; 1994 Sandown)-2
Peter Brock1 (1994 Phillip Island)1 (1993 Oran Park)No change
Wayne Gardner01 (1993 Symmons Plains)+1
Dick Johnson1 (1992 Lakeside)5 (1992 Sandown, Symmons Plains, Eastern Creek; 1993 Phillip Island, Winton)+4
Alan Jones02 (1993 Lakeside; 1994 Phillip Island)+2
Tomas Mezera2 (1993 Amaroo; 1994 Sandown)1 (1993 Amaroo)-1
Jim Richards3 (1992 Winton, Mallala; 1993 Barbagallo)1 (1992 Amaroo)-2
Glenn Seton6 (1993 Symmons Plains, Phillip Island, Lakeside, Winton, Eastern Creek, Mallala)0-6
Mark Skaife1 (1994 Amaroo)5 (1992 Winton; 1993 Mallala, Barbagallo; 1994 Amaroo, Symmons Plains)+4
Will Dale 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 for the next six years, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.