IT was perhaps one of the wildest events in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship, and one that left an indelible mark on the author as a seven year old.
WORDS & IMAGES: Mark Walker, DJR personnel Identification by David Segal.
The insanity started in earnest two weeks prior, with the originally scheduled event scrubbed after the adjacent Lake Kurwongbah burst its banks, making non-water-based sports somewhat impractical.
Terry Finnigan did his bit to aid the drying process in the preliminaries to race day (video above), comprehensively shortening his Commodore following an off at the kink, resulting in a significant bonfire.
By race day I found myself in attendance, with my awesome Aunty, who was working for Dick Johnson’s sponsors Palmer Tube Mills at the time, dragging this youngster up Gympie Road to the race track.
We set up camp on the run between the Kink and the Karussell, the above shot gives an idea of the view that we had… also, the immense number of punters trackside that day. They don’t hire out marquees like they used to…
This was also the vantage we were to unfortunately witness to the first major coming together of the day.
Typically from that position, you can’t see the cars exit the Karussell and run around XXXX Hill, which is significantly more elevated from the infield.
BANG! We swung around to see the Toyota Supra of Ken Douglas sailing through the air (video above) after coming together with Garry Waldon’s Mazda RX7 (pictured below).
From our position, the gravity of the situation wasn’t apparent, but with the smell of petrol soon taking over the area, we were evacuated in a hurry.
Outside of the busted Armco, and the trashed race cars, the true loser out of this situation was me, with my silk green Dick Johnson flag left pegged to the fence, where it was forgotten in the rush to escape.
Proof of this can be found in the TV coverage of the day, when a Formula Ford rolled after the finish of its race, with the driver scarpering up the embankment to stand next to the abandoned green flag. Sad.
Back in those days there were no garages, just annexes hanging off the side of transporters, with fans free to wander around the paddock.
While in the pic at the top of the page, Fred Gibson can be seen talking to John Bowe, in this image, Dick Johnson is walking towards the cars with his engine guru Alan Draper.
With John Bowe chatting to the TV camera, with helmet in hand is his lead mechanic Paul Cruickshank, who went on to own a team himself much later on.
Check out the background for what constituted pit setups circa 1989!
After taking in the dummy grid and watching the race start, the tired (and probably emotional) author needed a sit down away from the loud race cars, and we found a quiet place next to Tony Longhurst’s trailer which was parked near the Dunlop Bridge.
On lap 10, all hell broke loose. I’ll let Channel 7 tell that story…
We were clearly close enough to the commotion to be stirred to the point where we decided to cross the bridge, and get out of there.
My clearest memory of that were the cars continuing to belt past the accident scene at full speed for another lap following the fracas.
We got home in time to watch the finish on the Teevee… what a day!