Scott McLaughlin will continue to run the iconic #17 on his car next season instead of adopting the customary #1 reserved for the reigning champion.
The newly crowned Supercars champion confirmed plans to stick with the number made famous by Australian touring car legend Dick Johnson at the championship’s annual Gala Awards in Sydney.
Johnson made the #17 famous courtesy of his five Australian Touring Car Championships (1981, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1989) and his three Bathurst 1000 triumphs in 1981, 1989 and 1994 during his glittering career.
McLaughlin discussed his connection with Johnson and the #17 at the Gala Awards before batting away talk that he would run the #1 next season, when asked by host Jess Yates.
“I think for me, for us and the Falcon, with 17 championship wins, and to do it for Dick Johnson and Jillie, (the) #17 car, was very special for me,” said McLaughlin.
“I felt like I’ve taken onboard the #17 for the last couple of years, just trying to, I don’t know, prove it’s worth.
“He’s a legend of our sport, he’s certainly made it what it is today, and it’s unreal to be honest, it’s still soaking in.”
Shell V-Power Racing managing director Ryan Story praised the move from his driver, who he feels has been a ‘fine’ custodian of the famous number.
“It is huge and it is a real tip of the cap from Scott to Dick for all the wonderful things Dick achieved over his career and also to our many supporters,” Story told Speedcafe.com.
“The #17 has been a big part of our championship racing, running under it through our time as Dick Johnson Racing and DJR Team Penske since 1981, so to have it continue on and for Scott as reigning champion to continue racing with his number, is fantastic.
“He has been a very fine custodian of Dick’s #17 and there is nobody more proud than Dick Johnson.
“There is (a nice bond between Scott and Dick) but it is similar with Roger (Penske) too, they are all racers, they have a unique bond.”
While the enormity of the title triumph is still sinking in for McLaughlin, the team is planning a function for its entire staff to celebrate and reflect on the year, according to Story.
“It is still yet to sink in fully but I’m sure it will,” he added.
“Tomorrow we will get the opportunity with all the travelling staff back on deck and those who don’t travel to get everyone together and have a good look at the trophy and for everyone to reflect on the year it has been, and the enormous amount of effort each of our staff have put in to make it happen.
“That will be a very special moment and then we are doing something for the staff on Thursday as a thank you for their efforts.”