November 4, 2022 | General

GRM’s international history at the Mountain

Holding a respected history in guiding young Australian driving talent, but Garry Rogers Motorsport holds a distinguished history in providing international drivers a chance to tackle Bathurst.

Whether it be the 1000, 12 Hour, 24 Hour or now the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International, overseas drivers can be traced in more than 40 years of GRM history at the Mountain.

The latest, Teddy Clairet will contest the final round of Supercheap Auto TCR Australia as part of a five-entry Peugeot attack at Mount Panorama by GRM next weekend.

Although the team debuted at Bathurst in 1978 with its owner Garry Rogers, it wasn’t until a decade later when IndyCar driver and member of the preeminent families in motorsport, John Andretti arrived to co-drive.

“We have run a few internationals over the years,” Rogers explained.

“I wrote a letter to Mario Andretti saying I wanted him to drive with me in 1988.

“He wrote back and said ‘as much as he’d love to because he heard how good I was and he thought us two together would probably win the race, he couldn’t but he suggested his nephew John instead.’

“I went and picked him at the airport in Sydney and he’s come off the plane in crutches. I was thinking what’s going on here. Turns out he’d had a crash in an IndyCar a couple weeks earlier. So, we got to the mountain, he was a lovely bloke, but that race didn’t pan out the way we wanted.”

Focus for GRM changed from touring cars to NASCAR, Production Cars and later Super Touring opening new opportunities for Rogers as both a driver and team owner.

In the Bathurst 12 Hours of the early 1990s, Rogers teamed with New Zealand rallying star Possum Bourne in a Subaru Liberty RS, while giving drives to young guns Steve Richards, Craig Lowndes and Melinda Price.

The split in touring car racing during the late-1990s gave internationals a better chance at contesting the 1000, with British privateer Matt Neal partnering with Richards twice at the Mountain finishing a best of second in 1998.

Richards was the first of many New Zealanders to be enter GRM’s development pathway including current Penske IndyCar star Scott McLaughlin.

Although V8 racing took the focus from then on, the Bathurst 24 Hour opened up doors as large overseas teams descended on Mount Panorama to commit in amazing exotica including Ferrari, Mosler and Porsche just to name a few.

GRM grew to dominate the event, remaining undefeated in its two-year run as Peter Brock achieved his last great success in the 2003 edition.

“As a team owner, everyone always talks about 2000 (the team’s sole Bathurst 1000 victory), but to be honest I think the 24-hour races we did were a much more satisfying result for the whole operation,” said Rogers.

“To do that was very hard, we had to design and build the cars with a limited workforce alongside running the Supercar program. To get all that to happen, that was without a doubt the most satisfying of all.”

During the past 20 years other overseas drivers including the late Allan Simonsen, Alex Premat, Robert Dahlgren, Patrick Long, Augusto Farfus, James Hinchcliffe, Ricky Taylor and James Hinchcliffe were provided an opportunity to race in Australia by GRM, however the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International provides an easier pathway for drivers from across the globe to experience the Mountain.

“Things don’t become historical overnight however, it’s a certain thing that happens that everyone remembers, and it builds a reputation,” Rogers stated regarding the Supercheap Auto Bathurst international.

“There’s absolutely no doubt with the categories that are running it will continue to grow, you just need to look at what people are driving to the supermarket.

“Will it be historical tomorrow? No, because there is no history, but In a few years it will be.”

Also pick up the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International program HERE.