Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Dec 2016 Jan 2017 Issue 96 Contents 75
He was the bell-weather of now-fashionable CBD living
in Melbourne (he’s been there since the late 1960s, first
in the now-demolished Federal Hotel, then the Windsor
Hotel and now Rutherglen House, a six-storey bluestone
building tucked behind the Rialto skyscraper).
Amidst all that, Janson – who was born in New Zea-
land and grew up in Europe before settling in Melbourne
managed to eke out a motorsport career that plenty
would be proud of had they done nothing else.
Janson discovered motorsport during his time in
Europe and first cut his teeth in the sport there. A sports-
car outing gone wrong at the Paul Ricard circuit in France
is why he has that famous beard.
“I lost my face in a Ferrari,” he says. “The front wheel
sheared off and I hit the side of the circuit. And at the
side of the circuit in those days there was a cross with a
scaffold bolted on to hold the crowd back. It hit the top
and slid through the short windscreen and straight down
my throat. That’s when they completely rebuilt me. I got
most of the scars off my face but I had to keep a beard.”
Religiously turning up to every race meeting was
something Janson left to the professionals during his
two decades of contesting Australian touring-car events.
“I spread it around with the horses and motor racing,”
he says. “Larry (Perkins), he’s a true professional. Like
Brock, he’d be at every race meeting. But I wouldn’t, I’d
go off to Europe and go pheasant shooting, fox hunting
or sit on a horse in the steeplechase.”
Bathurst, though, was different. After making his first
appearance at the Mountain in 1973 in a Honda Civic (he
finished 22nd and fourth in class), he would return every
single year until his final start in 1992, most often with
his own team and Holden-badged product.
Why did he love Bathurst so much? “It’s the greatest
circuit in the world,” he says. “I raced at Le Mans and it’s
a flat bloody thing where the only fun you get is coming
down Mulsanne Straight. It’s flat, it’s boring. Here you
go up 2000-2500 feet, over the top at about 150mph and
the big sweeper and down you go, in the old days sitting
on about 200mph without the Chase. It’s the most excit-
ing and challenging circuit in the world.”
Janson’s Bathurst record is right up there with the
best drivers never to win the country’s biggest race. He
finished runner-up there twice (1979, 1980), third once
(1977) and clocked three other top-five results.
Part of it came down to his spectacular ability to pick
out great co-driving talent, like when he took a punt on a
certain struggling Australian ex-Formula 1 driver in 1977.
“Engine builder Ian Tate used to do everything for us
and he said, ‘You’ve got to get someone good to go with
you’,” he says. “And we sat down and thought, and I said,
‘What about Larry Perkins?’ So we rang Larry and he said,
‘I’ll be on with you’, so I bought him out. So that’s how it
started for Larry out here.”
When Perkins was drafted to the Holden Dealer Team,
Janson threw his support behind David Parsons.
“They all laughed at me because he was too young, they
all said,” says Janson. “But I said, ‘He’ll fucking frighten all
of you’. We were on the second row of the grid that year!”
Janson’s best Bathurst returns, unsurprisingly, came
with future serial winner and engineer extraordinaire
Perkins. In their four drives together they bagged three
podiums (1977, 1979 and 1980) and got on famously.
“Larry was so great,” says Janson. “He’d say, ‘Cobber,
if you want to start the race, you start the race’. Just a
wonderful, laid-back attitude. They reckoned we weren’t
going to last two weeks together but we only ever had one
cross word and it was, ‘Fuck it, Janson, stop going on the
side of the road in the gravel and throwing those Cherry
Ripes, we’ll get punctures in our tyres!’”
Janson thanks Perkins for teaching him the magic
touch at the Mountain. “If you finish at Bathurst you’re
bloody good, you’ve learned to look after the car.
ABOVE: Janson was a
pioneer of sponsor
engagement at Bathurst.
“IT’S THE GREATEST CIRCUIT IN THE
WORLD... YOU GO UP 2000-2500 FEET, OVER
THE TOP AT ABOUT 150MPH...”
– PETER JANSON ON MOUNT PANORAMA
V8X96 p72-76 Janson.indd 75
1/12/2016 3:45 pm
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