Mark Skaife has revealed that he was fighting back tears over news that Holden will soon cease to exist as a car seller.
Skaife took four of his six Bathurst 1000 victories and won four of his five Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercars Championship titles in Commodores.
He and the Holden Racing Team were the dominant force in the championship at the turn of the century, and Skaife even won two Bathurst 1000s and two championships in the same VX Commodore, which came to be known as the ‘Golden Child’, in 2001 and 2002.
Speaking on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live, Skaife recounted an off-air conversation which he had with show host Paul Murray about the decision.
Asked if he was surprised by the emotion about the news, the man who also once owned the old HRT said, “I am, to be perfectly honest.
“I spoke to you earlier today and two of us were battling to hold back the tears.
“It was one of those ones where I know we might be big sooks, but the reality is it’s a very, very big change to a landscape that I never envisioned.
“I just never in my lifetime thought that there’d be a day where we would say Holden move out of this country.
“There’s been recent signs since the end of the manufacturing sector and the way that has worked in terms of their marketplace and their market share – there’s been some worrying signs – but the day that it happens, it sure doesn’t make it any less sad.”
While his name is intertwined with the lion’s motorsport efforts, Skaife argued that the impact of the retirement of the Holden marque, just over two years after the closure of local manufacturing, will have a far greater impact in Australian culture.
“It’s been part of the social fabric of Australia, hasn’t it?” he observed.
“You’ve either been blue (Ford) or you’ve been red (Holden). The reality around football, meat pies, kangaroos, and Holden cars, it’s been part of our psyche.
“I’ve had so many people talk to me about car racing and I’ve tried to divert all the attention away from car racing because this is a day where Australian culture and the Australian landscape, and the DNA of what we are as a nation and what we’ve manufactured, and what we’ve loved…
“My grandfather bought Holden utes, my father raced a Holden Torana XU-1 as his first one, I was lucky enough to drive a WB ute as my first car…
“By the time you get to then driving for Holden as the factory team and replacing Peter Brock at the factory team, they’re symbolic things in peoples’ lives.
“Those people today that have been working there for so long – and it’s not just the people in-house, it’s the people in the regional offices, it’s the people in all those dealerships across the country, and so many of those dealers have been dealers for 50 and 60 years – so it’s a time when we need to reflect and be saddened.
“I heard (Prime Minister) Scott Morrison say that he was angry. I think there’s a lot of anger within the Holden family because it’s a brand that I never thought would go away.”
More of today’s Holden coverage