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Dick Johnson and the rock 1980

Submitted by on August 11, 2009

The Australian public sat glued to their TV screens as Dick Johnson explained the bizarre circumstances which saw him crash out the lead of the James Hardie Bathurst 1000. “I just couldn’t believe my bloody eyes. These galoots up there, that just throw boulders. Like it was enormous”.

Johnson was referring to a rock a “fan” had rolled onto the track between The Cutting and Reid Park gates which Johnson collected at over 150kmh in his Tru Blu Ford Falcon XD.

Dick appeared on live TV shortly afterwards shattered and broke.  The public were so moved that they jammed the Channel 7 switchboard with calls pledging money to help him rebuild  his Ford.

The 1980 Bathurst 1000 had became a live telethon and when Edsel Ford called pledging to match dollar for dollar any public donations Johnson went onto shock.  Some $42 000 was raised, which kickstarted his professional motorsport career and turned Dick into a household name.

Famously Dick rebuilt his machine and came back to conquer the mountain in 1981 when the race was red flagged after a massive pileup up at MacPhillamy Park  to take a wildly popular maiden win. The Ford fans had a new hero who would go on to take the Australian Touring Car Championship and stage epic battles with  Holden hero Peter Brock.

There has been much debate about the official story of how the rock came to be on the track. One story is that a marshall accidently knocked the rock when he was walking along the bank, however Johnson believes the story of a couple of pissed fans who called him years later to confess, but still claimed it was an accident.

Rich Fowler

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