'It's a fact': Holden boss blasts Supercars fans over shock demise

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read

The boss of Holden's factory-backed Supercars team says fans of the Red Lion had a role to play in the motoring brand's demise.

Holden's parent company General Motors has announced it will "retire" the iconic Australian brand by the end of the year.

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Years of declining sales drove the American automotive giant to make the call and Red Bull Holden Racing Team boss Roland Dane said flag-waving Holden fans on the track were partially responsible for the outcome.

"Unfortunately, one of the issues is, an awful lot of the people that have been barracking for the Holden brand over the last 10 years or so haven't actually been buying the product," Dane said.

"For whatever reason. It's a fact of life that people have been turning up to watch the races in other brands and one we're all very aware of.

Jamie Whincup, pictured here driving the #88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore at the Newcastle 500.
Jamie Whincup drives the #88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore at the Newcastle 500. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

"Times change and we've got to change with them."

The decision has left Dane seeking urgent talks with Holden bosses to work out his team's future arrangements in the championship.

Red Bull signed a two-year extension on their deal with Holden last year, taking them through to the end of the 2021 championship but it's almost certain that support won't extend into next year.

As the team featuring championship-winning drivers Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen prepare for this weekend's season opening Adelaide 500, Dane was confident morale hadn't been affected by the news.

"I've certainly made them aware of what's going on and I hope they believe in me and they'll wait and see what happens," he said.

Holden teams in limbo after shock closure

Dane will meet Holden bosses this week as he seeks clarity over the future of his Supercars team.

With GM refusing to commit Holden support beyond this year, Dane admits he's not sure in what form his team will race in next year's championship.

"The ongoing situation at the moment, I'm meeting with GM this week and we'll discuss what happens," Dane told reporters at a pre-season test day in South Australia.

"Until then, there's nothing more to be said really. It's a discussion between me and them.

"The timing of this was definitely a surprise."

Several options remain open to Dane and other teams racing Commodores in the Supercars field.

The Red Bull boss pointed to the recent example of teams racing Ford Falcons long after the car's production had ceased, as a possibility to racing unbranded Commodores in 2021.

Roland Dane, pictured here speaking to the media in Adelaide ahead of the Supercars season.
Roland Dane speaks to the media in Adelaide. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

He also said there were "plenty of possibilities out there" when it came to other manufacturers signing on but refused to speculate just who they might be.

"We want to continue racing cars that represent what the Australian public has shown they enjoy watching, which are Supercars latterly, Australian touring cars over 60-odd years. And we've got to keep delivering a product along those lines," he said.

"I think, collectively as a category, we will."

Holden has been tied to Australian touring car racing since the 1960s with names such as Peter Brock, Mark Skaife, Craig Lowndes and Whincup all starring for the Red Lion.

Skaife said the demise of the Holden brand was akin to a death in the family but he was confident the championship would survive the end of the Holden/Ford rivalry.

"We have to accept that the Red v Blue, Ford v Holden, Collingwood v Carlton, Labor v Liberal scenario in terms of rivalry is over and we have to re-energise our product plan," Skaife told AAP.

"It requires market relevance ... and it needs to have vehicles on track that espouse enthusiast values.

"You want to have cars that people want to drive, they love the sound of. Almost it's sports-car land. It needs to be something that's relevant to modern aspirational values."