Larry Perkins is one of the most celebrated and famous Australian motorsport drivers.
But like most things in life, nothing lasts forever.
Perkins is set to sell his two V8 Supercars Racing Entitlements Contracts – the final piece of his current involvement in V8s.
Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley and Stefan Bartholomaeus spoke to Perkins in Sydney in the lead up to this weekend’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
SPEEDCAFE: You’ve made it public that you intend to sell your Racing Entitlements Contracts. What’s the update?
LARRY PERKINS: I can confirm that the process that you go through with V8 Supercars, which is three weeks long, is underway. I can also confirm that Kellys and I will be making comments on it at the time when it is finalised.
To say it’s a done deal is premature, but the expectation is that’s the way it will go.
SPEEDCAFE: So you’re definitely not shopping it around? Kellys is where they will end up.
PERKINS: It’s in the stage of waiting for V8 Supercars approval process, which is something that we’re all aware of and something that we’ve supported for years. I don’t see there being any obscales, but until it’s done, it’s not done.
SPEEDCAFE: The Nissan project is pretty exciting for the Kellys, and the first running of the Nissan V8 Supercar engine has been held in your workshop in Moorabbin. You’re leaving the sport, but still fostering the next phase …
PERKINS: I think it was the right time to leave. My departure started when I retired as a driver in 2003, and then ceased to be a full-time, active team owner in 2009 when I did the joint venture with the Kellys. Now, to sell my licences, it’s my final act.
I think the introduction of the Nissans is fantastic, and I think it’s appropriate that the Kellys get on and run those four licenses totally under the Kelly Racing banner. And the more recent news of Mercedes coming in, which admittedly isn’t a factory thing, but it is still a fantastic time for the category.
SPEEDCAFE: Ignoring other manufacturers, how do you see next year’s technical package coming along with the introduction of the independent rear suspension, transaxles etc.
PERKINS: The core rules are still there. Very few of the rules have been changed, and stability has been a key feature, which is why it has had such success. The board has managed to change just a couple of rules to allow the introduction of different manufacturers, they’ve stuck with the five-litre V8 and modernised the transaxle. I think it has all been done with a minimum of fuss for the best outcome.
And the outcome is that any manufacturer that has an interest in the sport can come in with an equal chance of winning, technically, and that’s fantastic.
SPEEDCAFE: It’s not a massive change, but it certainly is a different era …
PERKINS: It’s certainly is a new era. 1993 was the last big change, so this is the biggest modification to the rules in 20 years, but it has been done with a very keen eye on change. It hasn’t been wholesale change. The principal of crystal clear rules still exists, there’s no special rules for particular manufacturers. It’s all still designed to see the best team win.
SPEEDCAFE: So where do it leave yourself? Your son Jack is still out there racing, but where will your interests lie?
PERKINS: Well, my interests will be purely as a spectator. I always watched the races. Next year, I won’t be involved at all, but I’ll be purely a spectator.
SPEEDCAFE: Are you going to miss the sport and the competition?
PERKINS: I don’t hang out at the track too much – I have a thousand other things to do.
I still very much enjoy the sport. There’s nothing worse wandering around the pits, lookinhg for something to do. I’ll be in attendance very infrequently, but I will keep an eye on it. I love watching it on TV.
SPEEDCAFE: So now you can have more time to focus on your aircraft data business?
PERKINS: That’s right. I’ve been aircraft data recorders for nearly 10 years. We sell them all over the world, but it’s a typical small business. Other than that, I have a keen interest in outback travel in my motorhome, or crew cab truck, and I enjoy working on those and using them. I’m bringing one up to Bathurst this weekend, so that will keep me entertained!