Peter Brock’s popularity at his peak in the 1970s and 1980s exceeded even that of the Holden cars that he drove, according to his former partner Bev.
The popular advertisement of the time may have declared that Australians loved “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars” but Brock’s reign as king of the Bathurst 1000 saw him become one of the most popular and well known figures in the country.
Brock’s rivalry with Allan Moffat in the 1970s, and then Dick Johnson in the 1980s, took the sport to unseen levels of popularity within the mainstream population.
Bev Brock told Wide World of Sports, there was more to being a star than simply being fast behind the wheel.
“When I first got to know him in the early 1970’s, he was just starting in his career,” she said.
“None of us knew how the future would unfold. He had to prove himself to the world, with a racedriver, it’s not enough to be a good driver.
“You have to have the whole package, dealing with media, fans, sponsors.”
According to Bev, other drivers were a match for Peter on the racetrack, but didn’t have the charisma when they stepped out of the car.
“Peter was bigger than life, an excellent driver, great with the public, and the sponsors loved him.
“Back in the 1970s the telemetry wasn’t anywhere near what it is today, so the car was only going to be as good as the feedback from the driver.
“There’s been some amazing drivers, guys like Jim Richards and Glenn Seton, who never handled the media and the public like Peter did. Those were the attributes that put Peter ahead of the rest.”
Brock’s six Bathurst titles in a seven-year period for the company’s official race team, Holden Dealer Team (HDT), saw the brand become one of the country’s most recognisable symbols.
According to Bev, Peter’s partner of 28 years, the Brock name became more valuable than the Holden car it adorned.
“At the time it certainly was, and that made it difficult, because one of the times Holden pulled back from the sport was because Peter was winning everything and beating the other Holden drivers,” she said.
“Holden found it very difficult that one of their teams was beating all the others so consistently.
“It was a tricky relationship to manage given Peter’s superiority over the others, particularly as Peter was developing the components, so he would get first dibs on the stuff.”
Scott McLaughlin is the current day Supercars superstar, having won consecutive championships, as well as last year’s Bathurst 1000.
But even the most ardent McLaughlin fan would admit his popularity and recognition is nowhere near the level enjoyed by Brock.
Bev believes the sport is unlikely to have a driver as well-known and as popular as Brock ever again.
“I don’t know that the sport will let them,” she said.
Peter Brock museum exhibit launched
“The way Supercars are managed at present they want to promote the category as a whole, rather than individual drivers.
“Back then, the sport was ready to embrace the individual personalities, because that’s what the fans demanded. They followed, not just the manufacturer, but the driver.
“There’s no doubt about it, he was a rarity. He was one in a million.”
Made for the cinema, Brock: Over the Top is available to rent on digital platforms such as Apple TV, Fetch and Google Play.