Popular Kiwi V8 Supercars driver Jason Richards has passed away, aged 35.
After a year-long fight against cancer, Richards succumbed to the illness last night.
Richards’ V8 Supercars Championship career saw 131 event and 284 race starts in the 11 seasons between 2000 and 2010. He also competed in 10 non-championship events, including this year’s Albert Park 400.
Born on April 10, 1976, Richards’ time behind the wheel began in karts at the tender age of eight.
Richards graduated into the local Mini 7 class in 1993, before a brief spell in Formula Ford both at home and in England. A move to 2.0 litre touring cars followed, culminating in three-consecutive New Zealand Touring Car crowns between 1998 and 2001.
Richards had his first taste of V8 Supercars racing with Team Kiwi at the 2000 Bathurst 1000, before joining the ‘All-Black’ team for his first two full seasons on Australian soil. A single year with another start-up squad, Team Dynamik, in 2003 almost netted a Sandown 500 win, and cemented Richards’ reputation as a naturally gifted driver.
Richards then moved on to Tasman Motorsport in 2004, with a five-year stint at the team yielding two Bathurst podiums (2005 with Jamie Whincup and 2008 with Greg Murphy) in addition to his one-and-only V8 Supercars race win (Winton 2006). The 2009 season, Richards’s first with Brad Jones Racing, saw the Kiwi make a third trip to the Bathurst rostrum (with Cameron McConville), and equal his best championship result of 14th.
Although being diagnosed with cancer prior to the penultimate round of the 2010 championship spelt the end of Richards’s full-time racing career, he made two spectacular V8 Supercars appearances this year – winning on debut in the Fujitsu Series in Adelaide, before proving one of the fastest entries in the main game a week later at Albert Park, recording a best race result of second.
Richards experienced a variety of other competition vehicles during the 2011 season, including racing a Ferrari 430 in the Australian GT events at Adelaide and Winton, an ex-Holden Dealer Team Holden Torana A9X at the Muscle Car Masters, and a Holden Monaro HQ in the Bathurst Touring Car Masters round.
He is survived by his wife Charlotte and his two children Sienna (3) and Olivia (2).
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s pictorial tribute to Jason Richards
CLICK HERE for this morning’s news story on Jason Richards’ passing
CLICK HERE for tributes to Jason Richards from the motorsport community
CLICK HERE for comments from Brad Jones Racing’s official statement
CLICK HERE for comments from V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane