Dick Johnson reunited with Tru Blu at Lakeside.
17 February 2014
Back in 1981, I was lucky enough for Dad to take us along to watch the now legendary Lakeside ATCC championship final, which was a battle royal between Peter Brock and Dick Johnson. Johnson had his Tru Blu Falcon, rebuilt after hitting the rock at Bathurst 81' thanks to the generosity of the Australian Public, Ross Pamler and the Ford Motor Company.
Johnson vs Brock, as good as it gets in 1981.
Dick had his front sway bar snap on the very first lap of the race, and drove his heart out to keep Brock at bay. We were part of 30 000 people that were there to witness that race and it is one of my first memories of being at a racetrack, but from that point in time the die was cast and seeing Dick win the race and his first Championship (and hearing the crowd go utterly ballistic after the win) is something I will never forget.
Dick and David with the blue beast.
Since buying the race cars from Dick about 8 years ago, we have slowly been working on each of them, individually getting them running again, so the fans can see, hear and enjoy them once more as they return to different tracks over Australia. Dick Johnson, Tru Blu and Lakeside are a special combination and it has always been our deep desire to reunite them all once more. We got our chance after Dad had a quick phone call with Dick on Monday mid morning, where he mentioned he was doing his ride day at Lakeside with the DJR V8 Super Cars. Dad asked if he would be keen to give Tru Blu a run if we were to bring it down, Dicks answer is not something we could write, but it was super enthusiastic for the idea!
So with a days notice we prepared Tru Blu and then thought as an extra surprise we would also take along the DJR Sierra #4, the 1989 Championship winner, for a few laps. We had some concerns however as we received a late night call from our friends at Qld Raceways who let us know that mid week the noise limit was only 90db from 5 metres away from the meters there... something like a noisy raod car.. few late nigut calls and our mechanics hastily improvised with some db reducing devices you can see on Tru Blu in the images and video.
We arrived at Lakeside, to find a core of his most hardcore fans already there, watching the new cars and drivers take people for hot laps. As we came in, I got a bit of a lump in the throat as we passed the place on the main straight that we watched the race with Dad in 1981, having the old Blu beast on the back was a bit of a surreal moment..
Unloaded we finally got to the pits, and had the DJR team allocate us a time to get Dick in the car and back out on track. It was the moment we had been waiting years to see. Dick was not able to give the old girl full stick, but he did give it a bit more than we expected (As you could imagine he would) taking in a few laps of the track. It was so brilliant, a highlight of the year for me (even though it has only been a month or so in by that stage) and I know all those who were able to be there that Tuesday would have been equally as happy to see them back on track.
We know a lot of people would have liked to have been there, but with the short notice and the day being on a midweek workday it would have been impossible for most. So we had Shout Out Films come along and make a short video of the run, check it out below.
Check out our full album of photo's of the day on our Facebook page by clicking here.