Falcon Memories: Dick Johnson
In this five-part series, Speedcafe.com speaks to some of the famous names associated with the Ford Falcon ahead of its final Supercars Championship round in Newcastle
On the eve of the Falcon’s final ATCC/Supercars Championship event, Dick Johnson says he rates his 1994 Bathurst-winning EB as his favourite example of the local Ford model.
Johnson and John Bowe won the Great Race of 1994 in a Shell/FAI Falcon, which proved to be Ford’s only win in an eight-year span in the Bathurst 1000.
While the car itself has perhaps flown under the radar compared to the likes of the Greens’-Tuf and Tru-Blu Falcons, the race was a landmark moment for Australian motorsport as the experienced Bowe battled for the lead in the latter stages with a rookie by the name of Craig Lowndes.
“There were a number of those as you would imagine,” Johnson told Speedcafe.com when asked to name his favourite Falcon.
“Certainly going back into the early ‘80s and things with the old Tru-Blu car, it was just something that was pretty special and achieved an awful lot.
“Probably one of the best cars that I ever drove was the car at Bathurst in ’94; the EB Falcon.
“It was just spectacular; it was just one of those cars that was, whatever we did to it, it was absolutely perfect. It was just the best thing I’ve ever driven.
“Bear in mind the way the cars are built today is that they’re constructed from the ground up as a race car, and what we were doing was really racing hotted up road cars.
“I think the way they performed is significantly different and I think to have the road car version as good a car as what it was, was quite unique.
“The way the car would react if we drove it hard all day… everything sort of worked extremely well on the car.
“It’s one of those cars that, no matter what you did, when you arrived at the corner you knew exactly what it was going to do.”
Johnson already has a history racing other Fords, particularly the Sierra but also a short-lived run in a Group A Mustang in the middle of the 1980s.
He agreed that the exit of the Falcon is a sad moment but was satisfied with what had been accomplished with the nameplate.
“It is (sad) in a way but like everything we have to accept change, don’t we?” he pondered.
“My career in Falcons served me extremely well.
“When you consider Falcons have been involved in motorsport since 1967 because even in the XK, XL Falcons, Phillip Island when they had the Armstrong 500 and all that sort of stuff, and it’s progressed right through to where it is today.
“It sort of left for a little bit when CAMS decided to go down a different path with Group A; it would have been good to have a Group A Falcon, it would have been something pretty special, but that wasn’t to be because you need the factory to be completely involved in those situations.
“I think it’s done its years in motorsport and would still be there if it was a car that was manufactured in Australia.”