Peter Brock… 1945-2006

Australia’s motorsport ambassador and giant of touring car racing loses his life in a rally accident

Peter Geoffrey Brock died on September 8 while competing on the Targa West rally. The Daytona Cobra replica he was driving left the road and hit a tree. Co-driver Mike Hone was taken to hospital and is in stable condition as we go to press.

That Brock’s death occurred just one week after he wowed the crowds at the Goodwood Revival in his Holden 48-215 makes his loss all the more palpable. A touring car titan with a record nine wins in the Bathurst 1000, in addition to Le Mans starts, Spa 24 Hours class success, rally wins and a rallycross title, he was Australia’s consummate all-rounder, renowned for his smooth driving style.

Brock’s father was a gifted mechanic who enthusiastically passed on his knowledge. Together with friend Ken Mitchell, ‘Brocky’ built a Holden-powered Austin A30 with which he started his first race at Winton in November 1967. His run ended in retirement but over the next two seasons he would win countless races and hillclimbs which led to him being offered a factory Holden drive for the ’69 Bathurst 500.

It was the start of a long relationship with the marque with which his name would become synonymous (he worked on the parts desk at a Holden dealership during his youth). With only brief excursions to other marques, including Ford and BMW, he remained loyal to the brand right up to his death.

Inextricably linked with the classic long-distance Bathurst 1000, he first won this punishing event in 1972. He repeated the feat three years later before a hat-trick from 1978-80. He backed this up with another trio from 1982-84 and a final triumph in ’87, the monicker ‘King of the Mountain’ being more than just PR puff. In addition came nine wins in the Sandown endurance classic along with three Australian Touring Car titles (1974, ’78 and ’80; he was runner-up five times). Brock enjoyed a record 57 poles and 111 front row grid positions from 206 ATCC starts, scoring his final win (of 37) at Wanneroo in 1997.

Brock retired from driving that same year although not from public life. A tireless campaigner against drink-driving, he was also a TV host and keen spiritualist. But he soon missed racing and made more returns to Bathurst (winning the 2003 24-hour race) and in selected historic events. His loss is a huge one for Australia and for motorsport as a whole.