HQ Holden Racing – Bathurst 2022
Updated: May 9
The Holden HQ production model has become one of the most revered Australian road car, with over 485,000 vehicles produced between 1971 to 1974 to become the largest selling Holden of all time. After decades of entertaining with some of the best races at the largest events in Australian motorsport history, the iconic HQ Holden Racing category has made its long-awaited return to Mount Panorama and on a national stage once again, for the first time in many years.
The 55 car field at the beginning of the second race at Bathurst (image by Priceless Images)
An oversubscribed grid in excess of 50 HQ Racing cars descended on Mount Panorama, to help celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the iconic HQ Holden build, while competing as a part of the Hi Tec Oils 6hr event recently at Bathurst over the Easter long weekend. Over 50 of the very best HQ Racing race cars and drivers from across the country battled for supremacy with over 50 kilometres of close racing, to recognise the 50-year Anniversary of the road going version, with one of the longest running single-make racing categories in the world and creating a 50yr/50 car/50klm event named the HQ50.
The three-day event was an opportunity to revisit the hallowed grounds of Mount Panorama, as the HQ Racing category has done for decades, with not only the opportunity to challenge for race wins, but also attempt to eclipse a piece of history dating back to 1997. Peter Holmes currently holds the current HQ lap record, with a lap of 2:56.0330 minutes around the famous 6.213-kilometre circuit. The time was set during a faster era of the category when using high-octane aviation gas to fuel the cars and grippier tyres, with the class now using 98 octane pump fuel and a road-based tyre construction. It will however be an added incentive for competitors, with literally hundreds of cars and drivers being unable to better the record lap time in over two decades, with category rules and regulations remaining largely unchanged since its inception in Tasmania back in 1987.
The HQ “race car” was developed in Tasmania and quickly spread to the mainland. The basis of the vehicle is the HQ Holden six-cylinder three speed manual, four door sedan. The constitution and a set of technical regulations ensure that all cars are presented in the same manner, and that all competitors compete on an equal plane. Some items i.e. camshafts, springs, shock absorbers and tyres are controlled items, which again keeps competition close and costs contained. Major components, engine, gearbox and diff are examined and sealed on assembly, ensuring strict adherence to the rules. As can be imagined though, with such stability in regulations, vehicle and engine development always progresses in motorsport and the attention to details and constantly pushing boundaries is central to extracting the most out of a HQ Race car. The longevity of the class is testament to almost the entire field being an owner/driver who is responsible for developing and maintaining the race vehicle, in many cases undertaken in personal garages, workshops or backyards.
The HQ50 event itself included the current and former National Champions of Joel Heinrich and Brett Osborn respectively, to head into the event as the drivers to beat, along with a competitive pack of over a dozen present and former State Championship winners from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. The HQ50 event commenced on track Easter Friday for two practice sessions, before official qualifying being completed with Brett Osborn (Osborns Transport) gaining pole over Andrew Magilton (Middys Electrical) and Joel Heinrich (Heinrich Performance) in third position for the Saturday morning race.
The first race created an amazing spectacle of a grid spread back past Hell Corner to fit the huge field, with the race commencing as a pack of immaculately prepared and presented HQ Racing cars. Brett Osborn led the pack off the line and into the first corner, to hold off Andrew Magilton and Brandon Madden (Pedders Suspension) for the finish to complete the race podium positions. Drivers throughout the field drove fought incredibly hard and all drove well without significant incidents, with a mixture of rookies and veteran Bathurst drivers throughout the field. The second race of the thee planned races began with similarly iconic sights of an entire pit straight full of HQ Holdens battling for position, with Osborne leading Heinrich and Magilton through the first lap, until Osborne locked up to send his car lightly into the barrier coming on to Conrod Straight and dropping down the field on lap one and allowing Magilton to take the race win over Heinrich and the recovering Osborn in third position.
Disappointingly, mother nature took away the opportunity to complete the final race for the HQ Holdens on Sunday morning, with fog setting in early and condemned the race to be a safety car procession for the distance and securing the overall podium results for the weekend. Andrew Magilton did an incredible job all event to take the race weekend result and importantly the Dale Youd Memorial Trophy, in recognition of the former National HQ Racing President who sadly passed away at the end of 2021.
The connection, passion and history with the Holden brand is as strong as ever and has been truly embedded in the Australian culture for generations. The opportunity to celebrate the 50th year of the HQ model and the HQ Racing category that has been centred around the production model, was a once in a lifetime opportunity and something that the HQ Racing category did every Holden, motorsport or car enthusiast proud through their presentation and approach to the HQ50 event and 50 year Anniversary celebrations.