Home' Supercar Xtra : Dec 2018 Jan 2019 Issue 108 Contents SUPERCAR XTRA
We’d put an awful lot on the line to get to there and
it seemed like it was going to be the end, but because
of one of the callers to Channel Seven (who launched a
fundraising appeal), what happened saved us.
Seven’s switchboard was absolutely jam-packed with
people ringing in to donate money to get us back on
track and one of the callers was Edsel B Ford II (Ford
Motor Company heir and then assistant managing direc-
tor of Ford Australia).
Edsel said that for every dollar donated he would
match it one-for-one – and he did.
He may have thought it was only going to be four or
five grand, but 78 grand later, he’d given us a pretty good
budget to do the full season the following year, which
I needed really bad. In a sense, that put an awful lot of
pressure on me.
I’m not one to let people down, so it made me, not try
harder, but it made it more important for me to get out
there and make sure I did the best job for all the people
who supported us.
Was $78,000 the total or what Edsel had to match?
That’s what he had to put in.
So it was $156,000 all up? That would have bought
you a nice new car.
Too right. That was a lot of money in 1980. But we never
really did it easy because there was only the two of us. It
was (Dick’s brother) Roy and I. We were building the car
together and I was building the engines and gearboxes.
Roy and I used to drive the truck everywhere and we’d
live in the truck. We didn’t have the budget to stay in
motels. There were some interesting times, I’ll tell ya.
Ford tipped in on that occasion and provided vary-
ing levels of support over the years, but DJR has
never actually had full factory backing, has it?
Not 100 per cent. They obviously got to a point, in the
latter years, where they were putting in pretty good
money to support our team. But back in ’81, after the
rock thing, it got me into Ford through Motorcraft (parts
and accessories division).
Doug Jacobi headed up Motorcraft and he was abso-
lutely fantastic. He did everything he could to support
what we were doing, sort of through the back door. And
that led to bigger things later on when Howard Marsden
returned in the mid-to-late ’90s when Ford Australia got
more involved again. We had a meeting with Jac Nasser
(then boss at Broadmeadows) and Peter Gilitzer (then
As you’ll remember, Gilitzer was a huge supporter of
motorsport and Nasser saw the commercial benefits for
the Falcon being involved in racing. It was really in ’93,
after the Sierras when we went back to V8 Falcons, that
we started getting some serious support. Then under
Marsden, who came from Tickford, the main Ford teams
all got significant backing. But we were never the official
factory team like Ford Performance Racing.
You mentioned 1993, which was the return of the
Falcons and the start of the V8 era. As good as the
Sierra Cosworths were, it must have been great to
be back in a V8 Falcon?
It really was. And that was a result of the team owners
getting together as a group and starting TEGA (which
still exists as a legal entity to hold the teams’ sharehold-
ing in Supercars). That grew to the point where, along
with trying to work with CAMS, we could control our
own destiny. And that was a real fight, I can tell you.
It was almost wholly funded by Fred Gibson and
myself, and the one person that changed TEGA dramati-
cally when he came to work for me was Wayne Cattach.
He virtually masterminded the whole operation of con-
verting TEGA into what we see today. It was the founda-
tion of what became Supercars.
We were just a bunch of owner/drivers that really
wanted to see our future secured. Motorsport was chang-
ing from being a part-time thing into a full-time occu-
pation and that was pretty significant for me because
after about 1985 or 1986, I didn’t have another means
of support. When he came in and saw how this thing was
being run by a bunch of team owners he said, ‘Look, we
ABOVE: Johnson with his
Group A Mustang in 1985.
z_SX108 p48-52 Foges Dick Johnson.indd 51
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