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HomeNewsWHAT'S IN A NUMBER? THE HISTORY OF #31

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER? THE HISTORY OF #31

PREMIAIR Racing’s decision to replace Garry Jacobson with James Golding recently in its Subway-backed Commodore in the Repco Supercars Championship also meant a return of Golding’s familiar #31.

The young Warragul driver has used it regularly in karts and during his time in S5000 with Garry Rogers Motorsport, as well as popping up with it in a couple of wildcard appearances in Supercars with GRM in 2017 at Queensland Raceway and Winton.

But just what is the history of #31 in the Australian Touring Car Championship and its modern-day Repco Supercars Championship era?

The #31 has been used by a range of big names, however has never actually won a round in the championship.

It has, however, won a race, in the hands of Steve Ellery in his Supercheap Auto-backed Falcon AU at Sandown in 2000.

First used in the ATCC in the last year of the championship being decided by a single race – at Warwick Farm in 1968 on Peter Brown’s Morris Cooper S – the #31 was on the side of Ian Geoghegan’s Mustang at Lakeside in 1970, Colin Bond’s HDT Torana at Warwick Farm in 1972 and Fred Gibson’s Road and Track Falcon at Oran Park in 1974.

In those days there wasn’t really a locked down set of numbers for each competitor as there is today in the Supercars era of the championship, hence some drivers and cars ran multiple numbers in the one season.

In the case of #31 it started to get regular use in the championship in the 1980s. Bond ran it for the season in 1981 on his Masterton Homes Capri and Allan Moffat’s Mazda squad used it for its second car driven by Gregg Hansford in select rounds of the 1983 ATCC.

Colin Bond aboard the Masterton Homes Capri at Calder 1981. Photo: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers.

JPS Team BMW returned to racing its Group C 635CSi in the 1984 ATCC (the team sat out the ’83 ATCC) with Jim Richards at the helm and the number stayed with the team for the move to Group A the following year, though with Kiwi Neville Crichton as its pilot.

It was next used by the factory Toyota Team Australia operation on a handful of Corollas between 1987 and 1989 and lay idle in the 1990s until used by Western Australian privateer Grant Johnson in his ex-Alf Barbagallo Commodore in 1996 and 1997.

Gibson Motorsport picked #31 up in 1998 to be used by Wynn’s Commodore driver Darren Pate and it was then moved on to Steve Ellery in 1999 when he set up his own team with an ex-Larkham Mitre 10 Falcon EL.

Gibson Motorsport ran a pair of Darrens in 1998 – Hossack and Pate. The latter ran the #31 on his ex-Skaife 1994 ATCC winning chassis. Photo: an1images.com / Graeme Neander.

Ellery stayed with the number over the following seasons in his own single car Ford team. He departed to drive for Triple Eight in 2005 and it went unused in the V8 Supercars Championship from ’05 until Golding’s wildcard rounds in 2017.

While it wasn’t used in the ‘main game’, Ellery’s team continued running #31 on its Mark Porter-driven Falcon in the Development Series in 2005.

This was in the period when V8 Supercars had one number pool across the main championship and development series, a system that was changed a few years back to give two separate sets of numbers across the two categories.

The last time that #31 appeared on the podium in the ATCC/Supercars Championship remains the 2003 Bathurst 1000 when Ellery and Luke Youlden finished third.

Ellery and Youlden finished on the podium in both enduros in 2003. This is Bathurst where they gave the #31 its last ATCC/Supercars Championship podium finish. Photo: an1images.com
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