Bathurst 1979 was Peter Brock’s masterpiece, a total display of domination not witnessed before at the Mountain and an utter humiliation for Ford, now out of the sport.
Coming off a disappointing, yet narrow defeat in the Australian Touring Car Championship to Bob Morris in his privateer Ron Hodgson Channel 7 Racing, Brock was eager to dominate the endurance season.
First on the list was Brock’s home event at Sandown where he extended his winning streak in the Hang Ten 400 to five after two years previous giving Holden’s new race track hero model, the A9X a dream debut.
The Holden Dealer Team was enjoying a supreme era of success as Ford disappeared soon after its demoralising 1-2 at the Mountain in 1977 allowing The General to dominate touring car racing for the next two seasons.
John Sheppard’s HDT was at its peak come 1979 Bathurst as much as Brock was at a driver partnered by future touring car legend Jim Richards. These ingredients ensured a period of utter domination.
All the lead contenders were in Toranas as the Falcon Hardtops were underdeveloped and fragile, in fact 12 Falcons started the Bathurst 1000 in 1979, with a best placing of 14th for Jim Keogh and John Mann, some 25 laps behind Brock.
Scoring pole by nearly 2s from championship Morris, Brock set the tone for the race as he set about dismantling the field.
Brock put his famous ‘crush’ on the field, holding a 5.2s lead at the end of the first lap and was further extended to 10s on the next circuit. Mot even a slight shower stopped the HDT Torana as ‘rainmaster’ Jim Richards took the wheel.
Brock returned to take the wheel for the final stint and famously broke the lap record on lap 163 to end the race with a bang.
The General took the first seven places and retirements to Morris, privateer Charlie O’Brien and Ford’s Allan Moffat left the HDT Torana to take a six lap victory.
It was the end of an era for HDT in many ways as the Torana was replaced by the Commodore and Sheppard sold the squad to Peter Brock.
It continues to be a much revered performance and one not likely to be repeated again.