This week we’re very excited to be releasing the 1:18 Scale Holden Racing Team VN Commodore SS Group A driven by Brad Jones and Neil Crompton in the 1991 Tooheys Bathurst 1000, featuring a Certificate of Authenticity signed by both drivers.
Bathurst 1991 appeared an insurmountable challenge for Holden’s brand new VN Group A Commodore as the factory Holden Racing Team aimed for its second straight victory in Australia’s ‘Great Race’.
Victory at Mount Panorama is never an easy task to achieve but back then the Mountain was just that little bit taller thanks to a car they called ‘Godzilla’. The seemingly unbeatable twin-turbo, four-wheel-drive factory Nissan GT-R campaigned by Gibson Motorsport had already won Jim Richards the Australian Touring Car Championship in a canter. The privateer GIO-backed Nissan of Mark Gibbs and Rohan Onslow won the Sandown 500 too, so the chances for anyone taking to the grid in anything other than a GT-R were not good.
The defending winners of the Tooheys 1000, the Holden Racing Team, continued with the same driving combinations as the previous year - 1990 winning duo Win Percy and Allan Grice in the lead #16 VN Commodore with Neil Crompton and Brad Jones in car #7. Crompton and Jones had finished fifth in the 1990 race and had tested with the team during the ’91 season as Percy drove the team’s sole entry in the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship rounds. The Channel 7 commentator and AUSCAR Thunderdome star combined forces for Bathurst aboard the #7 HRT Commodore, a car the duo had given its racing debut in the lead-up Sandown 500 in Melbourne.
As race week began at Mount Panorama the drivers of the new VN Group A learnt that the smaller rear spoiler – with less downforce - required more commitment going across the top of the Mountain. The outright speed of the turbocharged Nissan GT-Rs and Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworths was clear for all to see and Crompton and Jones qualified 13th on the grid for the 161-lap race.
Jones, a championship winner of the period in AUSCAR racing on the Calder Park Thunderdome, was given the driving duties of the #7 car for the start of the race, however soon found himself pit-bound with damage after banging into the wall at Sulman Park in the early laps, cracking both left-side wheels in the process. He rejoined the race down in 20th position on what would prove to be a dirty day for the Crompton/Jones car.
Later on Crompton found himself in the awkward position of rear-ending the sister Grice-driven #16 car as the reigning Bathurst victor got sideways coming out of Murray’s Corner onto the Pit Straight. The contact caused damage to the bonnet of the #7 car that was attacked when it visited the pits by an enthusiastic HRT crew - not to mention rolls and rolls of race tape to help sort the situation! And, as if that wasn’t enough, it all came to an end on lap 100 while Crompton was running 12th when he ran dry of fuel at the top of Mount Panorama.
“On one of the stops I jumped in the car and failed to switch the auxiliary fuel pump off,” recalls Crompton.
“They were a simple chrome toggle and I don’t think it was labeled from memory and there was no reminder to switch it to the other position. It was 100% my fault and a classic case of ‘if it can - it will’. When the car coughed it stopped coming out of the Cutting. I rolled back into the ‘quarry’ area and tried to conjure a restart.
“At the point of total surrender I noticed ATN Channel Seven’s chopper, the red Bell jet ranger (VH ATN) with long-serving and skilled pilot, Frank Van Rees, hovering above. I got out and indicated I wanted to hitch a ride; Frank duly landed and took me back to the pit area.
“I grabbed a jerry can and flew back up the top of the mountain, re-fuelled, restarted and no surprise, was immediately black flagged! Imagine that! Later, I jokingly said to CAMS Race Director Tim Schenken “show me the rule that says you can’t use a helicopter to refuel mid race”…
“Tim took a very dim view of my inventive approach to try and stay in The Great Race. It was a small glimmer of humour in an otherwise miserable day.”
Crompton drove the car back to the pits to be retired from the race (and thus safe from possible post-race cannibalisation at the hands of the fans at the top of the Mountain!) while the sister Percy/Grice went on to finish second overall behind the Jim Richards/Mark Skaife Nissan GT-R.
The 1991 race marked the final time a Group A homologation Commodore competed in the Bathurst 1000. While it ultimately wasn’t successful on the results sheet, the #7 Crompton/Jones HRT Bathurst Commodore VN was part of this last batch of homologation specials produced by Holden to tackle the most famous Mountain in world motorsport.
Although similar in many ways to the 2017 release and very popular Allan Grice/Win Percy #16 car (with the HRT specific tooling featuring engine bay, boot, undercarriage, wheels, and interior details), the Crompton/Jones car additionally has it’s own unique parts. This car carried not one, but 2 racecam cameras. One in the conventional location attached to the roll cage in the cockpit, and one smaller version recessed into the passenger side headlight.
During development of this model we have been careful to be as precise and accurate as we can in replicating these features to allow our collectors to take the time to spot and admire these little differences across our VN range. We hope you get as much satisfaction with this as we had in developing it!
Produced in die-cast with fully opening parts, highly detailed engine bay, boot, racing interior and a beautifully replicated livery, this is a must have limited edition collectable for Holden, HRT and Bathurst 1000 fans. Please note this model is limited to only 400 pieces and features a Certificate of Authenticity signed by both Brad and Neil so be sure to get your order in quick. This model will be available to purchase online at www.biante.com.au from 12 Midday WST Tomorrow, Friday January 26.