The extent to which Australian motor racing icon Peter Brock’s life revolved around the annual Bathurst 1000 has been revealed, with his former partner Bev Brock even keeping a pregnancy secret in the leadup to one race.
Brock’s record at Australia’s Greatest Race is unparalleled, winning the event nine times between 1972 and 1987, including six victories in seven years from 1978-1984.
A new movie, Brock: Over the Top, shines a light onto the amount of preparation that went into the race.
Bev, Brock’s partner of 28 years, disclosed in the movie that prior to the 1979 Bathurst 1000, which he won in partnership with Jim Richards, she found out she was pregnant with son Robert, but kept the news from Peter until after the race.
It was a particularly busy time for the Brocks, with Peter in the process of buying the Holden Dealer Team (HDT), the company’s official race team.
“I had found out I was pregnant with our first child, but because we had so much on the plate I wasn’t going to tell him,” Bev said in the move.
According to Bev, who split with Brock a year before he died in 2006, nothing could be allowed to disrupt Bathurst.
“Bathurst was what it was all about, everything else paled into insignificance,” Bev told Wide World of Sports.
“It was his universe. It didn’t matter what else happened in the year, everything revolved around Bathurst.
“Peter had so many facets to his life that the other drivers didn’t have. Peter had the HDT business, all the media, the engineering side. Even though there was a team manager, every aspect was in his hands and he was the ultimate decision maker.”
That 1979 race may be Peter’s crowning glory, with he and Jim Richards winning by an incredible six laps, a margin likely to remain untouched now that Supercars uses a safety car to bunch up the field in the event of an accident.
Not only did he finish nearly 40 kilometres ahead of the field, Brock set the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap, just to underline his dominance.
Bev revealed that the HDT was particularly adept at keeping the distractions to a minimum as Bathurst approached each year.
“If anyone tried to get to him in the leadup to Bathurst, the guys in the team would make sure they took care of it, so Peter could focus on the stuff that was important,” she said.
“Everything else was a distraction. We made sure any unpleasantness, any disagreements, it was all taken care by those of us around him.
“In the end, even though Bathurst is a team event, if the driver is not up to it, and giving it his all, the efforts of everyone else go to waste. It was a priority to let him focus.”
Distractions were also a problem for Peter’s greatest rival, Allan Moffat. The Canadian-born star, who won Bathurst on four occasions, liked everything just so, and any variation to the norm was a major problem.
Brock and Moffat were in the headlines for much of 1983, the pair arguing long and hard about the rules of the sport, as the governing body tried to find a happy medium between Brock’s Holden Commodore and Moffet’s Mazda RX-7.
Prior to the 1983 Bathurst 1000, Brock called Moffat “the best politician there is” amid claims the true potential of the Mazda wasn’t being shown in practice, lest the stewards try to slow them down with another rule change.
Moffat, for his part, fired back with an accusation that the whole thing was a “propaganda campaign” and that the Commodore was so fast it was a “Christmas present” for Brock.
Brock would end up winning that 1983 race, but only after switching to the team’s second car when his own blew an engine early on. Moffat was second.
“There was always stirring between Peter and Allan,” Bev said.
“They had completely different approaches to running a race. Allan would be so focused and cut everyone off.
“A lot of people thought Allan was quite rude, but in actual fact he was very shy and his way of approaching things was to shut everyone out, whereas Peter would deal with the fans and media, and it wasn’t until he got in the car that he started to focus.
“The way to throw Allan off, and everyone knew it, was to distract him. Even just walking up to him and patting him on the shoulder and saying ‘Hi Allan’ would be enough to throw him completely.
“Allan was an amazing driver, and he was Peter’s toughest opposition, so the guys in the crew would do every little thing to distract Allan.”
Made for the cinema, Brock: Over the Top is available to rent from Friday 3 July on digital platforms such as Apple TV, Fetch and Google Play.