WHAT’S IN A WINNING NUMBER?

Mark Skaife, Eastern Creek, 2001. Photo: an1images.com

RECENTLY we were asked what has been the most successful racing number in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars Championship.

So, that got us digging into the AN1 Data system and it spat out a very logical answer – the number 1.

It makes sense when you stop and think about it – the reigning champion’s number (though not always used by the reigning champion as Dick Johnson, Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin have shown) is a digit carried by a fast car and driver combination more often than not.

All up, from the 1030 races held in ATCC/VASC history, car number 1 has won 188 of them – 18.25% in fact.

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The first driver to win an ATCC race as car #1 was Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan at Bathurst in 1966 and he backed it up in the following two years – the last where the championship was decided by a single race – at Lakeside in 1967 and Warwick Farm in 1968.

Over time it’s been carried to victory by a range of stars with the list reading like a who’s who of Australian touring car racing: Beechey, Bond, Moffat, Morris, Jim Richards, Skaife (below), Seton, Bowe, Lowndes, Longhurst, Todd Kelly, Ambrose, Rick Kelly, Tander, Whincup, Courtney and Winterbottom. 

Given 2018 and 2019 champion Scott McLaughlin has opted to stick with #17 rather than adopt the champion’s number 1, the last time car #1 won a championship race was the 2018 Sandown 500 in the hands of Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell.

Colin Bond, Sandown, 1978 aboard the #2 Moffat Ford Dealers Falcon. Photo: an1images.com/Ian Smith.

The second most-winning number in championship history is also logical given it’s the next digit in line – car #2!

Peter Brock gave the digit its first of 92 wins at Surfers Paradise in 1973 when he scored his first ATCC race win and the number has been carried – usually in unison within a team with the champion’s #1 – by some of the powerhouse teams of the sport.

The Holden Dealer Team (1973-1974) won with it before it claimed victories with Allan Moffat Racing (1976-1978), Gibson Motorsport (1990-1994), Holden Racing Team/Walkinshaw Andretti United (1999-2002, 2004-2007, 2009-2011, 2013-2014, 2016, 2018), the last coming with Scott Pye at Albert Park in 2018.

Next best on the list, unsurprisingly is the number #17 with 69 wins, shared between Dick Johnson (30), Steven Johnson (3) and Scott McLaughlin (36).

Craig Lowndes aboard the #888 Betta Electrical Falcon at Oran Park, 2005. Photo: an1images.com/Justin Deeley.

Is there a race number in ATCC/VASC history you’d like to see the V8 Sleuth team expand upon? Email us here and we’ll put it in the queue for a future story!

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.