APEX REPLICAS RIP RACERS THE COOKED FINNIGAN COMMODORE
Published 23 July 2018
This privateer Commodore lasted a couple of seasons before ending up victim to a fiery crash …
STORY: DYLAN GULSON
IMAGES: AN1 IMAGES (DALE RODGERS/COVENTRY STUDIOS)
THIS edition of APEX Replicas RIP Racers focuses on another car to fall victim to a fiery shunt at Lakeside in 1989 – Terry Finnigan’s Commodore VL.
The privateer Holden met its end in a nasty shunt during qualifying for the Lakeside round of the 1989 Shell Ultra Australian Touring Car Championship, a round which claimed even more cars in the race, including Andrew Miedecke’s Sierra – read about it here in our last APEX Replicas RIP Racers feature.
That year’s Lakeside event was also unique in that it had been postponed for two weeks following heavy rainfall that flooded the circuit - quite the contrast to the fiery accidents that followed when the race meeting finally got underway!
Finnigan was at the wheel of his Commodore on the Saturday when it slipped off the road at the high-speed kink and backed into the wall, crushing the rear of the car and causing the fuel cell to rupture and burst into flames.
“I guess it was a combination of things,” Finnigan said at the time.
“I was on my fourth lap on new tyres. It moved a fair bit sideways and at the same time I hit the rev limiter, dropped off the edge of the power and couldn’t pull it around.”
He managed to escape unharmed after diving out the driver’s window and away to safety – all of which was captured by the Channel 7 cameras at the time.
Watch the qualifying report including the circuit flooding and Finnigan’s crash in this video below.
The Commodore was originally built as a carburettor VL Commodore in 1987 and appeared with Suttons of Homebush signage in the final round of the ’87 Shell Ultra Australian Touring Car Championship at Oran Park.
Fellow privateer Geoff Leeds joined Finnigan for the ’87 James Hardie 1000 (also the eighth round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship) but didn’t make it into the field for Sunday’s race after Leeds failed to qualify within the 110 percent cut-off time.
The Commodore was upgraded to the new ‘Walkinshaw’ fuel-injected specification for 1988 with Finnigan again making only one ATCC start in round eight at Sydney’s Amaroo Park.
Bathurst proved only slightly more successful for the car in ’88; Ken Mathews joined Finnigan for The Great Race and the pair qualified 23rdbut suffered engine problems in the race that put them out after 84 laps.
Finnigan again used the car in ’89 until the Lakeside shunt ended the Commodore’s racing days, with its useful running gear salvaged and used in the build of a new replacement Commodore that debuted later in the year in the Pepsi 300 at Oran Park.
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.