Home' Supercar Xtra : Dec 2018 Jan 2019 Issue 108 Contents 50 SUPERCAR XTRA
You helped make the Falcon such an iconic car but
equally it helped make you, didn’t it?
Oh, absolutely. Without the series of events that I went
through, I probably never would’ve had a career like I’ve
had. We stuck with Falcon the whole way because we
knew the car pretty well and, as it turns out, it rewarded
us. And there was quite a difference, really, between the
Fords and the Holdens. They were different from the
point of view that they had different strengths and
weaknesses, and I think that’s what the punters really
enjoyed and what made it more exciting.
That was especially so in what many would regard
as the golden era of Group C, when it was a five-
litre Commodore against a 5.8-litre Falcon.
Yeah, but the Falcon was a lot heavier and a lot bigger,
and not as nimble. Even further back, the Torana XU-1s
were a very nimble little car when they were up against
the GTHO Falcons. It was always a very interesting era
and it depended on which track you went to as to which
As you say, you started racing Holdens but you
switched to Fords and you’ve stuck with them ever
since. Why have you stayed with Fords for so long?
Well, like I said, I’ve always been a very loyal person, but
I’ve also stuck with Ford because we had all the stuff
that worked with them. Remember, we were a privateer
team, as much as might think we were a factory team.
But that was never the case. I had to pay my own bills and
all the infrastructure I had centred on the Ford. And to
be quite honest, I thought I had a much better chance of
winning in the Falcon because it was a bit more powerful
and it was reliable.
It was the Tru-Blu XD that made you famous but
your association with the Falcon started with the
XB through Brisbane Ford dealer Bryan Byrt. That
was the trigger for you to switch to Ford, wasn’t it?
Yes, it was because I was in a situation where I was
paying all my own bills and funding my own motorsport.
Having said that, the opportunity came along where I
actually drove a Holden Dealer Team XU-1 at Surfers
Paradise International Raceway once and I also drove
an XU-1 for Zupps (big Brisbane Holden dealer) for a
few years, but then Zupps decided they didn’t want to
continue in racing.
So there I was, left with nowhere to go and back to
funding my own motorsport. Luckily, Bryan Byrt came
to me and asked me if I’d like to drive his car. Right about
then it could’ve been a Skoda and I would’ve been in
there because someone else was paying the bills! Seri-
ously, though, it was a good, competitive car (XB Falcon
Sure, it took a while to get my head around things
and get the preparation of the thing right. We were up
against the factory then, too, where Moffat had the fac-
tory cars. But we held our own in certain places and led a
couple of championship races, only to have some minor
failures very close to the end, which was disappointing.
Obviously, the wins were to come later.
And that program sowed the seeds for the XD.
Absolutely. When Bryan Byrt unfortunately passed away
just after Bathurst in 1978, the business got taken over
and sold. The guy who bought it, John Harris, continued
backing the team in ’79, but the writing was on the wall
and I offered to buy all the bits and pieces, which we
could transfer into an XD body.
I also asked Harris to supply me with an XD – which
he did, an ex-highway patrol car, would you believe? –
and that was the deal that started Dick Johnson Racing.
We built the XD race car out of the patrol car and the
bits from the XC two-door. I gave him back the XC with
all the 351 V8 running gear out of the XD cop car. He
sold it as a road car. I think it was found in recent years
and rebuilt into the race car again. That’s how Dick John-
son Racing started and we did it all in the garage from
‘The Rock’ incident at Bathurst in 1980. Absolute
heartbreak, but it actually made your career.
It was the best thing that happened. At the time, it was
the worst thing, but it turned out to be the best thing.
Fraternising with Foges
ABOVE: Johnson in the XD
Falcon at Amaroo Park
Raceway in 1982.
z_SX108 p48-52 Foges Dick Johnson.indd 50
13/11/18 1:44 am
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