THE NISSAN MUSTANG IN THE BATHURST 1000

Andre Heimgartner's #7 NED Mustang, a car that started its life as a Nissan Altima. Photo: Dirk Klynsmith.

THE Car of the Future regulations introduced to the Supercars Championship in 2013 – in particular its control chassis element – meant that the possibility would exist for a Bathurst 1000 chassis to compete in ‘The Great Race’ as two completely different types of cars.

While some Ford teams have indeed converted Falcon FG X race cars into Mustang GTs, there hasn’t been a team line up on the grid in the Bathurst 1000 with a chassis that has completely been re-born from one brand to another – until now.

Kelly Racing’s #7 NED Mustang to be driven in the big race by Andre Heimgartner and Dylan O’Keeffe isn’t making its first trip to Mount Panorama, but it is making its first trip as a Ford Mustang.

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The #7 car is chassis KR009, debuted as a Nissan Altima by Michael Caruso in 2018 in Adelaide and driven by ‘Robbo’ and Dean Fiore in that year’s Bathurst race.

Last year it was used by ‘main game’ rookie Garry Jacobson as the #3 Rabble.Club Nissan Altima – Fiore again was in the co-driver’s chair for the endurance events.

Over the off-season it had the Nissan panels and engine removed and the required bracketry put in place for the Mustang panels, returning to life as with a Kelly-built Ford V8 at the season-opening Adelaide 500.

By our reckoning it’s the first chassis to ever appear in the Bathurst 1000 as two brands of cars (and we’re not counting any Geminis that may have raced as Isuzus and Holdens!).

The #3 Nissan driven by Garry Jacobson and Dean Fiore at Bathurst in 2019. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Stone Brothers Racing did indeed build a Falcon ‘COTF’ chassis in 2012 that later was converted into a Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 and did race at Bathurst in 2015 (with Ash Walsh and Jack Le Brocq driving), however it never turned a competitive wheel in anger as a Falcon.

Kelly Racing’s other Ford Mustang – the #15 entry that will be piloted by Rick Kelly and Dale Wood – is one of the seven cars that have never previously raced in the Bathurst 1000.

With over 20 years in the Australian motorsport industry, Noonan is the head of V8 Sleuth. He’s held a range of roles including working in television with Seven and Ten, print media and public relations. With a specialty in Australian motorsport history, he’s known around racing paddocks as ’the Sleuth’ and started his motorsport media career in 1997.