Dick Johnson remembers Sept 8, 2006

Dick Johnson drove Peter Brock's HDT Torana A9X at Bathurst in February this year

Dick Johnson drove Peter Brock's HDT Torana A9X at Bathurst in February this year (PIC: Craig Coomans)

Dick Johnson was one of Peter Brock’s great Australian Touring Car rivals.

The pair raced against each other for close to 25 years at the highest level, and enjoyed a healthy respect for one and other – even though they were generally seen as the leading lights for Ford and Holden.

The news of Brock’s death on September 8, 2006 came as a huge shock to Johnson, who says today that he had expected the pair to grow old together …

SPEEDCAFE: What were you doing before you heard the news of Peter Brock’s death?

DICK JOHNSON: September the 8th. It’s a hard one to forget for me. It’s between my two children’s birthdays. Steve was born on the 6th, Kelly is on the 11th.

I was doing a ride day for Mazda at Oran Park. I was doing hot laps with some Mazda people.

I got a phone call while I waiting in the car. It was Jilly (Dick’s wife). She said I’ve got some bad news. She said I’ve just got a call from V8 Supercars’ Chaplin Garry Coleman who had said that Brock had been involved in an accident and that he was killed.

It really shocked me. I couldn’t believe it. I said to one of the guys in the car with me “You’re not going to believe this, Peter Brock has just died.”

You don’t want to believe those sort of things, but about 15 minutes after that, I was getting phone call after phone call. I ended up switching my phone off.

SPEEDCAFE: You say you were shocked to hear the news, like most Australians. What were some of your feelings at the time?

JOHNSON: It was one of those situations where it’s living proof that no body is infallable. It was just unexpected news that you thought you were never going to get. I thought we were going to grow old together.

SPEEDCAFE: Five years on, is the Brock legend still as strong as it was while he was still here with us?

JOHNSON: Well, he did an awful lot for touring car racing in this country, not only as a driver, but as an ambassador for the sport in general.

I was fortunate enough to be competing in the same era as he was, and we both shared a lot of good times together and a lot of good battles.

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Some of the Johnson/Brock battles were legendary, but none more so than the final round of the 1981 Australian Touring Car Championship at Lakeside.

See below for footage of the pair fighting for a famous victory at the Queensland circuit.

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