APEX REPLICAS RIP RACERS THE STOLEN SKAIFE COMMODORE
Published 14 June 2018
This car was a race winner and had a complex life ending up lost overseas …
STORY: DYLAN GULSON
IMAGES: AN1 IMAGES (COVENTRY STUDIOS)
APEX Replicas RIP Racers returns with a car that enjoyed a solid career on home soil before being deported and lost – Mark Skaife’s 1995 Winfield Commodore.
The Gibson Motorsport-built and run VR Commodore eventually found a home in the UK where it was reportedly stolen and never seen again!
The car debuted at Sandown in 1995 with Jim Richards behind the wheel after he stepped in for Skaife, who was sidelined due to injuries sustained in a massive shunt during the Triple Challenge meeting at Eastern Creek.
It reverted to Skaife’s hands for the remainder of the ’95 season and took its first win in the second race of the sprint round at Bathurst.
Skaife endured a more difficult run for the rest of the ATCC, adding only one more win to the tally with victory in Race 2 at Eastern Creek.
Richards jumped aboard the Commodore again for Bathurst, joining Skaife in the #1 Winfield car for The Great Race – the last time the car carried Winfield branding after legislation banning the advertising of tobacco was passed only days before the Bathurst weekend.
Skaife and Richards controlled the race early and, famously, achieved phenomenal fuel mileage in the opening stint until the tail shaft broke and forced them out.
Fred Gibson’s team retained the car as a spare for 1996, appearing in Skaife’s hands at the Sandown round of the ATCC after his brand new car was damaged in a crash at Eastern Creek.
The team wheeled the car out again for the non-championship Albert Park and Gold Coast events before Mark Noske and Garry Waldon drove it to ninth place at Bathurst as the team’s #6 car.
Gibson ran the car in Wynn’s colours for drivers Darren Hossack and Steve Ellery at the endurance races in 1997 following Skaife’s departure to join the Holden Racing Team.
Hossack continued behind the wheel of the Commodore into the ’98 season running as the #7 Wynn’s entry, which became Tomas Mezera’s #32 for select rounds as the 1988 Bathurst winner joined the team to assist with development.
Hossack and Pate shared the car at Sandown and Bathurst that year with the duo scoring an impressive seventh at the latter, which would be this car’s last race on Australian soil.
Englishman Ric Wood bought the car and returned it to his homeland to be fitted with a 6.7-litre Chev engine and raced it in Formula Saloons (a category similar to Australia’s Sport Sedans).
Unfortunately the car didn’t last much longer and, after reportedly having its running gear stripped in readiness for painting, the truck it was within was pinched and it hasn’t been seen since!
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.
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