Holden has been a mainstay in Australian motorsport’s premier category, and is its most dominant manufacturer with a staggering 559 race wins.
However, click your fingers and just like that, they’re going cold turkey in showrooms.
So what about the race track?
Holden extended its factory contract with Triple Eight Race Engineering midway through 2019. However, things have since escalated quickly.
In December, the Commodore nameplate was retired and, barely two months later, Holden was axed. We break down what we know so far about what it all means for Supercars.
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WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THIS SEASON?
It this stage, the season will go ahead as planned with Holden managing director Kristian Aquilina stating it is the brand’s “intention” to race as normal. It makes little sense for anybody to pull out mid-season but it’s a volatile situation, so it’s not impossible things could still change later in the year.
SO WHAT WILL BE RACED NEXT SEASON?
Triple Eight boss Roland Dane was noncommittal on Tuesday when asked about whether his team and other Holden squads would race Commodores in 2021.
Dane himself admitted he was surprised by the timing of the announcement, with the 2020 Supercars season kicking off at the Superloop Adelaide 500 this weekend.
GM suggested it may retain a presence on Australian shores in the post-Holden era through a GM Special Vehicles division, but that was a formative comment at the very least.
The Walkinshaw Group imports a right-hand converted Chevrolet Camaro into Australia. The impending Gen3 regulations may encourage coupes – such as the Camaro – into the category, with a GT-style model suggested by Supercars’ CEO Sean Seamer.
However, parts of the Gen3 regulations – which are intended to roll out in 2022 – could be fast-tracked to 2021 in the wake of the Holden announcement, with Dane’s GM meeting this week crucial to the future of what will roll out next season.
“I don’t want to speculate on what we’re doing next season at the moment,” Dane told media on Tuesday.
“The ongoing situation is that I’m meeting with GM this week and we’ll discuss what happens.
“Until then, there’s nothing more to be said.”
SO, NO MORE HOLDEN AT BATHURST?
In 2021 it’s a possibility but it appears likely Holden will still be there.
Of 24 cars on the grid, 16 are Commodores. GM would be insane to pull everything completely and leave eight Mustangs doing installation laps in 2021. That simply wouldn’t happen.
Dane touched on the plight of the Falcon’s demise in 2016, with the model still racing in Supercars to 2018 before the Mustang arrived.
Only in the last few months has the homologation process seen the Mustang and ZB Commodore brought together on an aerodynamic basis. 2020 will see some great racing, considering the aero, engine and control shock changes. The template has been set. It now needs confirmation on what bodywork and badge will feature on the car.
Dane said: “The homologation from Supercars will be valid for several more years, as it always is.
“If you remember with the Falcon, even after they stopped production of the car and its availability to the public it carried on racing for several years.”
MARKET RELEVANCE WILL ALWAYS BE RELEVANT
Today’s landscape isn’t about ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’ anymore. Dane said times change, and “we have to change with them”.
Dane also landed a hammer blow on fans, suggesting “barracking” for a brand isn’t as strong as it once was, and Monday’s announcement was amplified by fans not buying the Holden product.
Three years on from Ford’s decision to axe the Falcon, the Mustang is selling steadily despite the initial fears the end of the Falcon would be the end of Supercars.
That obviously hasn’t happened – but Ford remains. With Holden going cold turkey, it’s a whole new story. It’s an entire brand.
On Monday, Holden managing director Kristian Aquilina admitted there’s much more to play out regarding Holden’s future in Supercars, and it goes far beyond Dane’s talks with GM this week.
Regardless, Holden’s deal with Triple Eight to the end of 2021 could be the obvious next domino to fall, and things could happen quickly after that.
Moves made on Gen3 will play a key role, but as it stands, there’s much more to work out from a Supercars standpoint.
“We’ve made a commitment and certainly we’ll need to sit down with our partners – Supercars Australia, and certainly the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, Triple Eight – which we’ll do in the coming days, to talk about the appropriate transition,” said Aquilina.
“Our intention is still to go racing in 2020 while we’ve still got Holden vehicles out there in dealer showrooms. To the extent about GM and its involvement in racing beyond that, that will be part of the same conversation.”