COMMENT: The big Grove gain for Kelly Racing
THE GROVE family have been actively involved in motorsport for a decade and loved it for longer.
I’m not sure there’s a better group of people – a better family – for Kelly Racing to partner with moving forward.
Essentially, it’s one family-run team merging with another family-run team to build one bigger, better family-run team.
It’s sensational news for the Braeside bunch after a remarkable 12-month period of transformation from what was a four-car, factory Nissan squad to a two-car Ford Mustang team.
They’ve also had to deal with the full-time retirement of Supercars staple (and co-owner) Rick Kelly and sourcing his replacement – David Reynolds and Penrite backing expected to be announced shortly.
While adding new owners to the team might seem like more disruptive change alongside everything they’ve dealt with in the last twelve months, you get the feeling that this is probably the least intrusive thing to happen to the Kelly clan in that time frame.
The Grove’s not only bring a substantial business backing to Kelly Racing, but a high level of motorsport nous as well because in recent years they’ve been focussing on building their Grove Racing business as a successful, stand-alone racing team.
They won the Pro-Am class of the 12-hour last year and always run at the pointy-end of Carrera Cup, too. At the Grand Prix last year Craig Lowndes drove for the team in a Carrera Cup guest spot and it would be unsurprising if other high profile drivers end up in Grove-backed Porsches at some point in the future.
So, as well as merging their business acumen and support with the Kelly’s they also bring a vast knowledge and experience base from the sport to add to that already held by Todd, Rick and the leadership at the team.
They’re also passionate about the sport, too, and not just as competitors.
Grove Group has been long-time personal backers of Scott McLaughlin and Anton de Pasquale and have had a lengthy relationship with Earl Bamber so their investment in the sport isn’t just for the benefits of their own racing exploits.
They’ll bring a new dose of enthusiasm to the Supercars pit lane and a different approach to the ownership group which can only be a good thing in shaping the future of the sport moving forward.
For the Kelly’s, the investment comes at the perfect time as Supercars;’ teams look to capitalise their businesses to fund the upgrades to Gen III over the next twelve months – especially after just undertaking what can not have been a cheap switch from the Datsun’s to the Mustangs last year.
In fact, the only point of conflict between them might come down to who currently has the more impressive workshop – the Grove Racing facility in Pakenham not far removed from Kelly’s one just a bit further down Melbourne’s EastLink motorway.
Most of all, having the Grove’s involved in the main game is another vote of confidence in the series moving forward.
Plenty line up to have a crack at Supercars and sometimes it is deserved – but on the other side of the fence, things are never as bad as people make them out to be.
That people are still lining up to invest in the championship – Repco, Channel 7 – is proof that, while not without its challenges, things are still going along OK.
And that for every high-profile departure, there is generally someone like the Grove’s ready and waiting to step into the breech.
This is going to be a fun partnership to watch and there will be plenty hoping it can elevate the team into regular outright contenders; building on the promise they showed in patches throughout last year.
So, a good day for the Kelly Clan. A good day for the Grove Group. A good day for the sport all round.
A few more of those in 2021, please..