Home' Supercar Xtra : Oct Nov 2017 Issue 101 Contents 62
TEAM 18 PROFILE
this is just madness, this is just crazy’. Most of it was out
of our control,” says Schwerkolt.
But Charlie’s been involved in Supercars for some
years before that, too. And pretty much all along there’s
been drama, controversy and challenges.
It didn’t start that way. The Gold Coast businessman
became professionally involved with the sport when he
invested in Dick Johnson Racing in mid-2008.
He was a long-time friend of the icon and although
he never raced anything other than go-karts himself,
he was a huge motorsport fan and a petrol-head with a
passion for V8 road cars.
Schwerkolt played his supporting role as
Adrian Burgess led a rebuild of the team
and James Courtney secured the 2010
drivers’ championship. But by then
Schwerkolt and Johnson’s rela-
tionship had soured and the
partnership was dissolved.
Schwerkolt left the team with
a Racing Entitlements Con-
tract leased to them for two
years. Required to use it or sell
it for 2013, Schwerkolt became
a customer of Prodrive Racing
Australia, running a Falcon for
Alex Davison. It was a difficult year
and one that ended unhappily between
driver and owner
Jack Perkins drove the car in 2014 and
endured a frustratingly unsuccessful season, the com-
bination only really gelling at Bathurst, where they
showed great speed and only missed a top-five result
because of a late-race penalty.
For 2015 it was all change, with Schwerkolt moving
to Walkinshaw Racing to reunite with Burgess and com-
plete a four-car set-up with Erebus Motorsport refugee
Holdsworth as his driver. It was another inconsistent
year, again highlighted by a good effort at Bathurst.
Two events later at Pukekohe, Schwerkolt realised a
change had to be made.
“We were in the first year of a two-year deal with
Walkinshaw Racing and they came up to me and said,
‘We are going down to a two-car team next year and we
are going to need more money to run you’.
“I thought to myself, ‘My God what am I going to
do?’ The performance wasn’t happening down there.
We weren’t going to go anywhere. So I went and spoke
to Lee and said, ‘You know what, I think it’s time we go
and do this on our own. This is just crazy’.”
That began a whirlwind of activity that has been
widely reported: the recruitment of former Holden
Racing Team boss Jeff Grech as team manager, signing
up staff, locating and fitting out a workshop, purchas-
ing the ‘Xbox’ Triple Eight Holden Commodore and the
spares to go with it, finding a transporter, the securing
of sponsorship... the list was almost endless.
The summer of 2015-16 was a blur of activity
for Schwerkolt, Grech and the small team
they had built around them, which
included respected engineer Jason
Bush, crew chief Andy Atkins and
number-one mechanic Janelle
“We put it all together in a
very hurried way,” Schwerkolt
recalls. “I had to beg, borrow
and steal to get it all together to
“It’s been a great learning curve
and I am still learning every day
because it’s so different to my previ-
“What have I learned?” he ponders. “The
biggest things are financial; it costs more to set
up a team and to run it. That’s one thing that’s really
caught me out.
“You need a lot behind you to get it all happening and
I am getting there now. In the first year we had to buy
“As a customer of a team the gear is all there, but
being independent means financially having to spend
more money than I ever thought I would. But it was the
only way to do it; I had to take control.”
The other big deal Schwerkolt nominates is people.
Charlie is undoubtedly a people person and there isn’t
a sentence he speaks about the achievements of setting
up and running his team where he doesn’t deflect to his
crew as the real heroes.
And no wonder. After the team’s first car was wrecked
Don’t expect Team
18 to roll out a new-
at the Adelaide 500
next year... or any
time soon after. For
he will stick with
the current VF II
Commodore for at
least next year.
“At this stage I won’t
be going to the new
car; I have too many
parts and panels for
the VF II,” Schwerkolt
Holden comes along
to the Holden teams
and says, ‘Here’s a
couple of hundred
grand to upgrade’.
Then, sure, I’ll upgrade
– no dramas –and
promote the car. But
as long as there is no
with the current car
and no support from
Holden I see no reason
The other aspect of
the evolution into the
new Commodore is the
eventual arrival of a
twin-turbo V6 engine
to go with it.
Schwerkolt is a V8
man through and
through and it’s not
hard to tell he isn’t
enamoured by this
“I think the fans love
the noise of the V8,”
he says. “I think the
noise and excitement
of a V8 engine
powering down a
straight is something
pretty special and
“The fans I do pit
tours with and so on,
they really want the
V8. I would prefer the
category to stay with
the V8 engine, for
2008-2012: Schwerkolt owns the #18 at Dick Johnson Racing.
2013: Schwerkolt moves his entry to Prodrive Racing Australia.
V8X101 p60-64 Team 18.indd 62
14/9/17 7:13 pm
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