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AUSCARs on track in Charlotte? You bet!

In celebration of Shane van Gisbergen returning to the NASCAR Cup Series and Brodie Kostecki’s debut in Indianapolis, there was a demonstration run more than 30 years ago where two AUSCARs warmed up the crowd at the Coca-Cola 600.

Courtesy of winning the AUSCAR title and his sponsor Cooper Tools, current Repco Supercars Championship team owner Brad Jones was joined by maiden race winner in the class at the Calder Park Thunderdome Terri Sawyer to complete a demonstration run at NASCAR’s largest race.

Of course, the Coca-Cola 600 is linked to Indy by happening after the famous 500 event, with a selected few drivers actually contesting both namely Tony Stewart completing ‘Double Duty’.

In preparation for the event Brad and brother Kim fitted a diff sourced from one-tonne Holden ute instead of the regular component set up for the Thunderdome to ensure the Cooper Tools Commodore left Sawyer’s similar example behind.

Although instructed to be side-by-side for most of the demonstration there was one opportunity to present itself to put pedal to the metal.

“We were going around and Terri was going as good as she could,” Jones explained.

“I was idling around in second gear, but when I saw the chequered flag, I dropped back a little bit and stood on it!

“I remember going down the back straight and this thing had a megaphone on it running at 6,000rpm, though it sounded like it was doing 12,000rpm.

“There were 180,000 people at the venue that year and it is the first time that I was able to hear the crowd over the noise of the car.

Although this demonstration provided a lot exposure, it was not enough to allow Jones to pursue a career in NASCAR.

“I’d reached out to a couple of teams to try and get a test in a NASCAR,” said Jones. “I ended up going to Ross Palmer’s team based in New Jersey so I went up there and spent a bit of time trying to convince them to give me a test, but it’s never an easy thing to do.

“I had also spoken to a few team owners in Charlotte, but could just never really get that opportunity. All the Aussies that had ran over there raced on Superspeedways and I really thought a circuit no bigger than a mile and a half would be the right thing for me.

“Because I had never raced a NASCAR in Australia and I had no money at all, it was disappointing to be honest.

“I tried really hard.”