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Dick Johnson celebrates 30 years of DJR and “The Rock”

Submitted by on September 6, 2010

This year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 marks the 30 year anniversary of Dick Johnson Racing and the infamous rock incident, a tragic event which saw Dick Johnson crash into “The Rock‟ which a spectator had allegedly rolled onto the track. The events which followed are set in Australia’s history as one of our greatest sporting memories, as the country rallied together to raise more than $84,000 to help Dick Johnson get Tru Blu back onto the track and win Bathurst the following year. This outpour of support established Dick‟s career within the motorsport world and created one of the nation‟s best-loved sporting legends.

“Bathurst 1980 is still the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. The emotion that came over me the moment I hit “The Rock‟ was overwhelming. To think someone could do such a thing was really disheartening; I truly thought it was the end.

“When the commentators told me the Australian public was ringing in to pledge their support to get me and the team back on our feet, well, I’ve never felt so humbled in my life. Receiving all those letters from everyday people, families and kids sending through their hard-earned cash and pocket money to help, is one of my fondest memories.
“I went back to Bathurst the following year to win the race for the Australian public who believed in me!

“It was the beginning of Dick Johnson Racing and I truly am proud to think we’re the Team Australia Made. I’ve kept every letter which was sent in, and want to use the 30 year anniversary as a chance to hear from people who remember “The Rock‟ and who generously donated, and to share the memories and stories!”

It was a shattered Johnson who had the Australian public glued to their television screens during the famous 1980 live interview where he retold of the accident which saw him crash out of the race after hitting a rock seemingly rolled onto the track by a spectator. This image of a broken Johnson had such a profound effect on the Australian public, people started pledging money to help him rebuild his now legendary #17 Ford Falcon, Tru Blu and establishing one the of the country‟s most iconic sporting teams.

With Ford pledging to match the public donations dollar for dollar, Johnson famously rebuilt his car to get back on the track and claim not only Bathurst, but also the Australian Touring Car Championship the following year.

Phil Baldock, Managing Director, Beam Global Australia, comments on the anniversary, and encourages people to share their memories of the famous sporting moment: “The way the Australian community came together thirty years ago to help Dick rebuild his dreams is a true testament to the Aussie spirit. I certainly remember watching the terrible incident unravel on TV, as I’m sure thousands of Australian’s do. Dick is part of the Jim Beam family and we want to help him celebrate and remember the moment which made him the sporting legend he is today.”

Following the 1980 accident, Dick Jonshon and his team went on to secure a total of five Australian Touring Car Championships in ten years. Dick is one of the few motorsport drivers who has won a series of Championship titles and has been inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame in 2001 following his retirement in 1999.

Jim Beam Racing is hosting a 30 year anniversary micro-site, which will display images of some of the original letters from the people who donated and provide a site where people can share their stories and memories of one of Australia’s greatest sporting moments and the Team Australia Made. Jim Beam Racing will also upload exclusive videos and behind the scenes footage from this year‟s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 – www.jimbeamracing.com.au

This year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will take place 7-10 October 2010 on the iconic Mount Panorama. As part of the 30 year anniversary celebrations, Jim Beam Racing is helping Dick say thank you‟ by inviting three of the original donators, plus a friend each, to this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 as Dick’s VIP guests. The VIP experience will include money-can’t-buy experiences such a grid walk, pit garage tour, Paddock Club tickets, a helicopter ride and a chance to get on the track with a Safety Car Ride.

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