Peter Champion remembers Sept 8, 2006
Peter Champion is the owner of the HDT (Holden Dealer Team) brand – a brand that Peter Brock helped build.
Champion was a close friend to Brock and his family, and he remains dedicated to surviving the Brock legacy through his collection of race cars, memorabilia and road car business.
On September 8, 2006, news of Brock’s death in West Australia travelled to the east coast quickly, and Champion was one of the first to have his death confirmed …
SPEEDCAFE: What were you doing before you heard the news of Peter Brock’s death?
CHAMPION: I had just delivered one of my trucks to a maintenance repair shop in Brisbane.
I was in the car with my wife Sandy. She was sitting in the back seat and she took a phone call and all I could hear her saying was “Oh no, no, no.”
Sandy got off the phone from a girlfriend in Melbourne who said that a well-known racing car driver had just been killed in Perth.
Straight away, I got my phone and called Brocky. I left a message asking for him to call me back when he had a chance.
I then called Julie (Bamford, Brock’s girlfriend) and she’d just been told. I could tell by the sound of her voice that was who it was.
SPEEDCAFE: What was the feeling that you had when you first realised that Brock had passed?
CHAMPION: It’s hard to describe. I’d been talking to him the night before, organising to get the Austin A30 ready for the Speed on Tweed the following weekend. I guess it took a while to finally realise what had gone on.
Then everyone started ringing me, as people do when something happens like that.
Sandy and I jumped straight on a plane to Melbourne to be with the Brock family. I was there when his body came back from Perth.
I can’t believe that five years have passed since then.
SPEEDCAFE: You own the HDT brand now – a brand that is synonymous with Brock. Is he still a big part of the brand you carry?
CHAMPION: Absolutely. Without his name attached to it, it would just be another mere three letter brand.
Peter built it, and with nearly 5000 cars on the road, it’s a big thing.
I just feel privileged. I’m in a position where I own a few of his cars – race cars, road cars or whatever. To be able to keep the brand which is 42 years old this year, is quite remarkable to be able to achieve that and keep that going.
The amount of people that still talk about Peter … it was only last Sunday, I was at the Muscle Car Masters in Sydney. They’ve started up that class of replica cars, and to walk around there, I feel great pride in knowing that I own those three letters. You see HDT on all of those cars. There was more replica Brock cars than anything else. I saw four big bangers! It was amazing to see that many on the dummy grid to go out for their demonstration. It was amazing.
SPEEDCAFE: Last year, you released a 30th anniversary HDT car, celebrating the build of the first VC Commodore. Do you have any other Brock tribute cars in the pipeline?
CHAMPION: We do. We’re currently working on a project. It will be launched later this year. I’m currently in Melbourne working away on it, so that will be launched late October. It will be an exciting little number.
See below for video of Brock driving the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team Commodore VK at Goodwood in 2005, plus a special HDT promo.