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When V8 Brutes ruled the supports

One of the only categories to emerge from the collapse of PROCAR Australia in mid-2004 and become stronger after the fact was the V8 Utes.

Providing action-packed and spectacular racing, featuring larger than life personalities proved a popular mix for fans when the V8 Brutes as it was known debuted in Adelaide as part of the Clipsal 500 supports in 2001.

Formulated by PROCAR Australia owner Ross Palmer and employee Craig Denyer alongside long-time production car competitor Ian McAllister, the V8 Brutes featured 10 entries split equally using Holden’s VU Commodore SS versing the Ford AU Falcon XR8.

Fully embracing the lifestyle most owners of these vehicles enjoyed such as ‘boot scootin’ girls, hay bales and driver nicknames, the V8 Brutes managed to gain a loyal fanbase. Quickly, the category also gained a reputation for wild driving standards and aggressive racing, which was the highlight of PROCAR Australia meetings.

Comprising of reverse grid races and a ‘chook lotto’ format to decide starting positions, this mated with the aggressive racing styles ensured action galore.

Respected Speedway commentator Wade Auger spearheaded the commentary adding further showmanship to the category, with his calling being a highlight during its early days.

Rod ‘Redline’ Wilson won the inaugural race, while Damien ‘Ice’ White took out the reverse grid event, while Gary ‘Macca’ MacDonald was victorious in the last in Adelaide.

Built by Wayne Park, the first batch of V8 Brutes had teething problems such as Grant ‘Maddog’ Denyer’s brake failure crash in Adelaide at the final corner, but it gained traction quickly.

The likes of Denyer, MacDonald, White, country singer Adam Brand, Gary Baxter, former rugby union player Ben Dunn, ex-Sydney Roosters winger Jack Elsegood and racing legend Allan Grice were all part of the entry back then.

Luff grew to dominate the series from 2003 to 2004 and it helped his progression into V8 Supercars, White was another to do the same, MacDonald dabbled, while Denyer became in endurance driver.

Drivers not previously well known such as Charlie ‘Handlebars’ Kovacs and Glenn ‘Bad Boy’ Barnes had personalities made the category, with which it used appropriately.

V8 Utes dropped the Brutes tag when PROCAR Australia was dissolved in mid-2004 and the seriousness of the category rose as models were upgraded alongside the road-going examples.

Once production of the Commodore and Falcon ended it highlighted the beginning of the category’s conclusion in this era. The 2017 season was the finale and category stalwart Kim Jane fittingly won the title.

Of course, the category went in the direction of turbo diesel dual cabs, but this proved unpopular and has since changed to a V8 formula where it has since blossomed.

But what a time the V8 Brutes was.