THE rivalry between Glenn Seton and Dick Johnson and their respective Ford teams raged throughout the 1990s, providing Australian touring car racing one of its key storylines.
Their eponymous squads were battling for wins on track, while fighting over Ford’s sponsorship dollars off it, and the two owner/drivers had very different styles and personalities.
While all the most famous scraps between Seton and Johnson – and DJR’s hired gun, John Bowe – occurred during the 1990s, it was an incident back in ‘86 that started it all.
It’s a story that Seton recounts in his new book, Seto: The Official Racing History of Glenn Seton, a 320-page retrospective, covering the highs and lows of his incredible career.
It’s now in stock in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop – click HERE to order!
Seton lined up for his first ATCC start with Fred Gibson’s factory Nissan team at Sandown in 1986 as a fresh-faced 20-year-old, roughly half the age of the day’s star drivers, including Johnson.
Qualifying ninth, Seton was in the mid-field into Turn 1, where he went too deep under brakes, bounced off the inside kerb and started a multi-car incident that took out the #17 Mustang.
“It was my fault, but it was one of those things. I was young and green and having a go, it sucked me in,” wrote Seton in the book.
“I’ve seen plenty of others make that sort of mistake, including Dick. That didn’t stop Dick calling me all the names under the sun in the press.
“He never spoke to me about it, but went to town in the media, decrying these ‘young blokes coming into the sport and messing it all up’.
“From that moment, my relationship with Dick was a bit clouded to say the least!”
The rivalry grew once Seton started his own Ford team in 1989, fielding two Peter Jackson-backed Ford Sierras.
In the book, Seton tells the story of being blocked from using the same Dunlop tyres as Johnson for the Oran Park finale in 1991 – the first year he ended up beating both DJR cars in the championship.
Seton also reveals a disagreement between the pair during vital parity discussions on the TEGA technical committee during 1993 that he believes ended up costing the Ford teams dearly.
The rivalry reached fever-pitch in 1995, which was the first year Seton’s team – as well as the new Larkham and Longhurst operations – joined DJR in receiving Ford funding.
That season famously included Johnson declaring Seton had the “personality of a speedhump” in the leadup to the Phillip Island event.
Bowe and Seton clashed at Bathurst later that year, taking the DJR car out of the race, which the former also opens up on in the book as part of a heartfelt reflection on that dramatic day.
Seton revealed he and Johnson rarely spoke over the years, even when he drove for DJR in 2005 – a season that proved a premature end to his full-time driving career.