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APEX REPLICAS RIP RACERS ELVIS HAS LEFT THE RACETRACK

Published 02 May 2018

This HRT Commodore lived an exciting and complicated life that was ultimately cut very short …

STORY: DYLAN GULSON
IMAGES: AN1 IMAGES (COVENTRY STUDIOS)

THIS edition of APEX Replicas RIP Racers features one of very few Holden Racing Team cars to have been lost to a chassis-destroying crash – HRT 027, nicknamed Elvis.

The car began its life in 1991 as the team’s second-built VN Commodore Group A car and turned out to be one of the least-raced HRT race cars with just five race meetings of competition across nearly two years.

Unfortunately the car only lasted until the start of 1993 where a heavy shunt during a test day at Phillip Island put an end to the Commodore and very nearly its driver Tomas Mezera.

Worse still, the accident was caused by the installation of an incorrect length bolt in the steering arm that broke on the entry into Honda Corner on Mezera’s out lap!

“They just found any old bolt and Neal (Lowe, new HRT Team Manager for 1993) told them to put it in and it would be alright,” Mezera said in V8 Sleuth’s ‘HRT The Cars 1989-2016’ book published last year.

“The first time I jumped on the brake pedal at Honda Corner on the out lap it broke the bolt and the car snapped left into the tyre wall. I nearly killed myself and nearly rolled the thing. He (Lowe) didn’t last there much longer after that …”

The car had started its life as Neil Crompton and Brad Jones’ car for the 1991 endurance races and used by Mezera in ’92 until he slapped it into the concrete at Eastern Creek during qualifying.

Repairs were made to HRT 027 and it re-emerged later in the year as the team’s very first 1993-spec VP Commodore, complete with Chevrolet engine rather than the normal five-litre Holden V8

HRT 027 took part in pre-endurance race testing at Mallala before making its race debut as a VP at the Sandown 500 with Percy and Allan Grice driving. But the debut was a tough one and the new-look VP was crumpled – twice in practice!

The car was repaired overnight but failed to finish the endurance classic, which would ultimately be its last race before the Phillip Island testing incident occurred early the following season.

Keep checking back to the V8 Sleuth website in upcoming weeks for more APEX Replicas RIP Racers stories highlighting race cars from Australian motorsport history that have met their demise.

Visit APEX Replicas’ online store here to shop for a wide selection of model cars covering Supercars, Formula 1 and much, much more.

 

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