BY MOST traditional measures, Neil Crompton’s Bathurst 1000 debut with Peter Brock’s Mobil 1 Racing in 1988 provided no result to speak of.
The team’s BMW M3s were hopelessly outgunned by their Ford Sierra-led opposition, and both the Brock/Jim Richards and Crompton/David Parsons entries struck trouble on race day.
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But as Crompton recounts in his new book, Neil Crompton: Best Seat in the House, some light-hearted Racecam banter while running many laps down during the afternoon provided its own type of victory.
Crompton switched into the Brock/Richards car after it’d been delayed earlier in the race, and also adopted Brock’s helmet as it was wired up to speak to the commentators via Racecam.
The ensuing chat between Crompton and commentators Mike Raymond, Garry Wilkinson and Doug Mulray was made all the more entertaining by the presence of Brock, who chimed in from pit lane.
“There was no serious talk about how the race was evolving, how my car was going or even what the weather was like,” wrote Crompton.
“All these blokes could do was launch gags and giggle.
“We were so many laps behind that we could get away with it given there was no competitive pressure.
“The circus seemed to go on for an eternity, before finally the boys ran out of gags and left me in peace.”
It was compelling television that still makes for great viewing via the full race DVD that can be purchased in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop, but Crompton reveals it also had a significant outcome.
“What the world didn’t know at the time was that Mobil was undecided about continuing their sponsorship of the Brock team,” he wrote.
“And on the strength of the huge amount of television airtime we received from this impromptu lighthearted banter, Mobil decided to re-sign their deal and continue with Peter.
“While it was a giggle for those watching at home, it actually helped save the major sponsorship deal for the biggest name in the sport.”
While Mobil stuck Brock’s team, Crompton did not, as he instead elected to move on to the Holden Racing Team in 1989.
Crompton’s special connection with Brock from childhood and into professional life is explored extensively in the book, written with V8 Sleuth MD Aaron Noonan.