Lowndes takes the torch around Mount Panorama in September, 2000. Photo: Supplied.

RIGHT now the Tokyo Olympics should be well underway, however the COVID-19 pandemic is such that the Games have been postponed until 2021.

It’s got many Aussie sports fans thinking back to Sydney 2000, especially given it’s the 20th anniversary of those amazing 14 days when Australia was on show to the world and ‘Roy and HG’ lit up the screen every night with ‘The Dream’.

Last week’s Channel 7 documentary highlighting the Opening Ceremony also touched upon the Olympic Torch Relay, a topic with a V8 Supercar connection.

Holden was a major sponsor of the Olympics and indeed the Torch Relay, meaning plenty of its star drivers of the time carried the flame during its journey from Athens in Greece to Sydney in Australia.

The Olympic flame took a unique trip around Mount Panorama inside the Holden Commodore race car of none other than Craig Lowndes on Saturday September 2, 2000,

With plenty of racing fans on hand, Peter Brock covered his relay leg and handed the flame to Lowndes, with the flame placed in a specially constructed canister inside the car.

Given the strict rules surrounding sponsorship and official partners holding exclusive rights and signage of Olympics events, of which the Torch Relay was included, all of the car’s regular sponsors had to have their stickers removed with only Holden and HSV remaining in place for the special lap of Bathurst.

The car he was driving was most certainly one of the HRT’s race cars of the period, one he’d raced the previous month at Calder.

“I remember when we were talking about being part of it,” Lowndes recalled to V8 Sleuth in our ‘HRT The Cars’ book released in 2017.

“They had to make up a proper holder in the car and a safe canister. They were worried about the transfer of flame and it perhaps going out! It was in the passenger’s side and it was like an old gas lantern.

“It was an encased flame, not naked like the baton was. I think they left the baton lit in case it went out while I was going around the circuit!”

The good news was that the flame didn’t go out, the lap was completed without worry and the Olympics were a raging success.

Amazing to think this unique lap of Bathurst occurred 20 years ago next month!

If you’re a Holden fan, you can’t miss out on our ‘Racing the Lion’ Holden illustrated history in motorsport book – it’s available to pre order here, it’s 400 pages, packed with nearly 900 photos and a must for your motorsport book collection!

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.