This is Holden’s last goodbye.
On a weekend when Supercars returns to the Adelaide streets after almost three years, fans will finally bid farewell to the famous red lion as it makes a 591st and final round appearance.
General Motors retired the Holden brand in 2020, announcing it just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic begun, but the Commodore has lived on in motor racing.
Holden badges have adorned vehicles for the past two Supercars seasons, just without the lustre of the official rivalry with Ford that has dominated Australia’s touring car series for more than 50 years.
But with the Gen3 cars ready to launch next year, Chevrolet Camaros will replace Holdens on the grid to battle the Ford Mustangs.
Emotional weekend for Holden faithful
It will be an emotional weekend for all the Holden faithful, in particular Nick Percat.
The parochial South Australian was devastated when the Adelaide 500 was scrapped in 2020, adding to the blow of Holden being retired in the same year.
But the famous Adelaide event has been revived after a change in state governments.
Percat’s father Marc, grandfather Italo and great grandfather Paolo were all employees at Holden’s former plant in Elizabeth.
‘Perfect send-off’ for the brand
“Ending the season in Adelaide is the perfect way to send off the Holden brand,” the 2011 Bathurst 1000 champion told reporters this week.
“The track is roughly 15 kilometres away from the old plant.
“Driving a Holden for the very last time will be strange … I’m looking forward to hopefully finishing off well with the brand.”
Meanwhile, drivers hit the newly resurfaced Adelaide street circuit for practice on Thursday as Ford’s Tom Randle topped the times with a last-ditch hot lap just before the session was red-flagged with a minute to go.
Holden’s Macauley Jones brought the session to an abrupt halt after making contact with a wall.
‘Excited for future, glad to be part of past’
Erebus’ Brodie Kostecki finished second behind Randle, while Cam Waters made it two Tickford drivers in the top three.
“For this round to be the last one for Holden and obviously being a Holden town, it’s going to be a big one,” Kostecki said.
“It feels a bit surreal at the moment but it’s happening and we’re going ahead next year with Camaro so excited for the future and glad to be part of the past.”
Randle said the weekend was “big” for Holden and Australia.
“I think every family at some point owned a Holden or a Ford and our family owned a Holden over the years,” Randle said.
“It’s a big chapter in history coming to a close.”
No room for sentiment on the track
Waters said there would be no room for sentiment and Ford drivers would be “out for the kill”.
There will be another practice session on Friday ahead of qualifying later in the day.
Champion-elect Shane van Gisbergen had the best time for most of the session but ended up fourth fastest.
Van Gisbergen will be looking to complete the perfect Supercars season by winning in Adelaide to go with his Bathurst 1000 win and second-straight championship crown.