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When V8BRutes carved a new racing path

ONE of the only categories to emerge from the collapse of PROCAR Australia in mid-2004 and become stronger after the fact was the V8 Ute Series.

Providing action-packed and spectacular racing featuring larger than life personalities proved a popular mix for fans when the V8BRutes (as it was originally known) debuted in Adelaide as part of the Clipsal 500 supports in 2001.

Formulated by PROCAR Australia owner Ross Palmer and employee Craig Denyer alongside long-time production car competitor Ian McAllister, the V8BRutes featured 10 entries split equally using Holden’s VU Commodore SS and the Ford AU Falcon XR8.

Fully embracing the lifestyle with ‘boot scootin’ girls, hay bales and driver nicknames, the V8BRutes managed to gain a loyal fanbase. Quickly, the category also gained a reputation for wild driving standards and aggressive racing, which was the highlight of PROCAR meetings in the period.

Reverse grid races and a ‘chook lotto’ format to decide starting positions mated with the aggressive racing styles ensured action galore both on track and on the television.

Respected Speedway commentator Wade Aunger spearheaded the commentary adding further showmanship to the category, with his calling alongside Grant Boyden and racer Wayne Russell a highlight during its early days.

Rod ‘Redline’ Wilson won the inaugural race, while Damien ‘Ice’ White took out the reverse grid event, while Gary ‘Macca’ MacDonald was victorious in the last in Adelaide in 2001.

Built by Wayne Park, the first batch of V8BRutes had teething problems, highlighted by Grant ‘Maddog’ Denyer’s brake failure crash in Adelaide at the final corner, but the category gained traction quickly.

The likes of Denyer, MacDonald, White, country singer Adam Brand, Gary Baxter, former rugby union player Ben Dunn, ex-Sydney Roosters winger Jack Elsegood and racing legend Allan Grice were all part of the travelling Ute brigade.

Luff grew to dominate the series and won the title twice, helping open the door to a V8 Supercar drive with Dick Johnson Racing full-time in 2004.

The category dropped the V8BRutes tag when PROCAR dissolved in mid-2004 and the seriousness of the category rose as models were upgraded alongside the road-going examples.

The V8 Utes field pounds around the streets of Adelaide in 2007. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Under the stewardship of Denyer Snr and Bill West, the V8 Utes category moved onto the V8 Supercar bill in the wake of the collapse of PROCAR and continued on with full fields, great racing and a solid commercial partnership base.

The end of production of the Commodore and Falcon started the road to highlighted the road to the end of the category in this era. The 2017 season was the finale and category stalwart Kim Jane fittingly won the title.

The V8 Utes were replaced by the V8 Super Utes turbo diesel dual cabs, but this proved unpopular and the category has since changed to a V8 formula where it has since blossomed.

But what a time the V8BRutes were … ah the memories!

This story also appears on the Repco Garage website.

For more news and content like this story, as well as videos competitions and podcasts, visit the Repco Garage here.

WATCH: 2009 WINTON V8 UTES

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