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Sunday, May 26, 2024


MUCH has been written this week about the start of the new Supercars eSeries that will take in virtual rounds at virtual Phillip Island and virtual Monza this week.

While the ‘Island has heaps of real-life Supercars and touring car history when it comes to Aussie racing, Monza doesn’t have quite so much.

But many of today’s Supercars stars probably don’t realise it has some, including a very special piece of World Touring Car Championship history!

While current Commodore-mounted Supercars racers Shane van Gisbergen, Scott Pye and Alex Davison has all raced at the real Monza in Blancpain GT, British Formula 3 and Porsche Supercup/ELMS respectively, the real Monza has also hosted real V8 Commodores.

Allan Grice attacks the kerbs at the first chicane at Monza in 1986. Image: AN1 Images/RacePress

In 1986 the European Touring Car Championship round at the circuit featured a pair of uniquely Aussie V8 Commodores – one Mobil Holden Dealer Team entry of Peter Brock and Allan Moffat and a Roadways Racing privateer entry driven by Allan Grice and Graeme Bailey.

We’ll have a range of photos of the the European Group A Commodores in our new Holden motorsport book ‘Racing The Lion, a 400 page collector’s edition book available to pre-order now here.

The ’86 Monza appearance by the two Holden teams was all part of the European championship assault as a build up to the Spa 24 Hour endurance race later in the year.

Monza was the opening round of the ’86 ETCC and Grice quickly proved he’d give the European teams a tough time, spending some time in the lead in the early running before co-driver Bailey bunkered the plain white Commodore.

But they proved far more competitive than the Mobil car, which only lasted six laps before rear axle failure.

Allan Moffat and John Harvey claimed the inaugural 1987 WTCC round at Monza – the Aussie lion roaring at the place where the Prancing Horses normally did their thing! Image: AN1 Images/RacePress

But Monza the following year in 1987 would prove to be a place where a piece of Holden history was created as Allan Moffat and John Harvey won the Monza 500km race, the opening round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship.

The duo had departed Brock’s HDT after the infamous fall-out with Holden and, via a middle man, Moffat purchased the new, not-yet-raced HDT VL Commodore.

With minimal spares and a band of helpers, the duo finished seventh on the road in the #5 Rothmans-backed Commodore at Monza behind six BMW M3s – however the little German machines were all booted from the results for having Kevlar roof panels, leaving the Aussie V8 as the race winner!

“We lined up dutifully in the scrutineering bay afterwards with the six BMWs in front of us,” Moffat sold the V8 Sleuth in 2007 of the aftermath of the Monza race.

“They had been given the all clear to go, we arrived, they took the carburetor off and said, ‘oh, big hole there isn’t it’ and sent us on our way.

“We weren’t contenders, so they didn’t care about us – it was just a notional check.

“And then the funniest thing happened. A privateer M3 had finished eighth and all the cars were weighed, and he found himself to be 80 kilograms heavier than the six cars that had finished in front of us!

“He spat the dummy, jumped up and down in the scrutineering bay and demanded some action. The scrutineers went to the Schnitzer and Bigazzi BMW teams and said they’d like to see their cars again in the bay.

“With all this drama, the scrutineering dragged on until 10pm. After all, we’d done the race and there was no benefit from hanging around, so we went back to the hotel, had a pleasant dinner and went to bed.

“We came down the stairs in the morning for breakfast and the little fellow behind the desk started shouting ‘magnifico, magnifico!’. He could read the newspapers to know what had happened, but we couldn’t!

“It was the best reception we’d ever had for winning a race in our lives!”

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