October 2019 marks fifty years since Peter Brock first got behind the wheel at the iconic Bathurst racing circuit – the track he was destined to dominate with a record nine wins, earning him the mantle ‘King of the Mountain’. To commemorate Peter Perfect’s spectacular racing record, his long-term partner Bev Brock joins teammates, racing rivals and friends to relive every Bathurst race of his legendary life in Brock at Bathurst. Here, Bev shares how the book came together.
It was common knowledge that Bathurst was Peter’s favourite rack track in the universe. The Mountain challenged him, and he conquered it more times than anyone else to this day. Everyone remembers his victories at the Bathurst 1000 and the 24 Hour races, but there were numerous other finishes at the 1000 and 12 Hour races that sit behind the headlines. Another untold story is that many of those near-misses left Peter feeling extremely satisfied, given that he had overcome enormous odds to sometimes even finish the race. His ultimate goal was always to give nothing but his very best, so that his sponsors were rewarded for their commitment, the team for their dedication, and the public for their unwavering support.
It was hugely important for me to undertake the trip to Bathurst this year; not only was I celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Peter’s first race at Bathurst and the fortieth anniversary of his famous win – by an unheard margin of six laps – but I was also launching Brock at Bathurst.
The crowd was enormous, full of amazing and incredibly kind people who obviously still miss their King a great deal. Fans continually told me of times they had met Peter, spoken with him, had photos with him, been tattooed in his honour and even named their sons after him.
But what I found most difficult this year was the feeling of not belonging. The Bathurst 1000 has become an enormous, hugely commercial event that no longer resembles the race we once knew. We began with little infrastructure, no pace cars, lots of camaraderie, little fanfare and the cars and drivers ruled supreme. It has evolved into its current massive form, and I now know that the race belongs to a new generation. Many racegoers of my vintage told me that they see Bathurst today as sterile by comparison, but isn’t that how most of us who have enjoyed a vibrant past see this new, brave world?
I was initially hesitant when Affirm Press publisher Martin Hughes approached me with the concept for the book, but I realised that this anniversary was too important to miss without marking it appropriately. Motorsport fans know Peter’s public story, but no one has considered the story behind all of those incredible years. After all, no matter how brilliant and talented Peter was, he could never achieve such unrivalled success without the backing of dedicated, loyal and incredibly supportive individuals who were behind every one of those attempts to conquer what became ‘his’ Mountain.
Peter was the face of each of those encounters, but the personal stories of co-drivers, team managers and crew, family, PAs and sponsors have never been told, and this book provided the perfect opportunity to do just that. It also enabled me to renew contacts I’d sometimes left behind in the rush of modern life. Their recollections have prompted many of my own memories that, until now, had been swamped under the overwhelming weight of a very interesting life.
Putting the book together proved to be an emotional rollercoaster, as I remembered years that were exhilarating, extremely demanding and often very turbulent. Just like any sport, politics played its part, and as Peter was one of the leading figures – every side of the struggle for on-track supremacy wanted his unqualified support. He was a man who put the good of the sport first and foremost, so factions didn’t interest him. And, as with all tall poppies, there were those who wanted him brought back to their level.
I am blessed to have such incredible memories and wonderful friends who shared this journey!