In early February 2020, the serenity of Lakeside was momentarily broken when the thunderous roar of a big capacity, old-school V8 drew its first breath.
Firing out of the pitlane and immediately into the famous kink before rounding the constant radius right-hand Karussell (takes its name from the Nurburgring banked corner), the XD Falcon made hairs stand on end, just as it did 40 years ago.
This machine, affectionately nicknamed Tru-Blu 2, pays homage to the big-block V8 that was responsible for putting Dick Johnson on a path to Australian Touring Car superstardom.
Johnson’s brother, David ‘Dyno’ Johnson, had been happily enjoying a well-earned retirement when he received a shout to help out with the project that has resulted in the reincarnation of one of the most famous Aussie Falcons of all-time.
The XD will ultimately be used by Dick’s son Steven Johnson in defence of his Australian Touring Car Masters crown, a title he has lifted for the previous three seasons.
Dyno, who had been involved with Dick Johnson Racing in various capacities since the team was formed at the end of 1980, recalls his recent trip to Lakeside which brought back a flood of precious memories.
“I only really got involved late in the piece (with the TCM-spec XD Falcon) when I got back into the workshop because the boys were under the pump to get ready for the release of it and the ride day at Lakeside,” Dyno explained.
“Lakeside, in my opinion, is still the best track in Australia. It’s a fact of life really, it was just a great circuit.
“I think it had the highest average lap speed in the country at the time and it used to sort out the men from the boys.
“In 1964 (Dick Johnson’s first season of racing) when all the southerners came up for the Touring Car Championship there were about seven or eight of them in the fence by the end of the day.
“There was a couple on their side and they were parked in fences everywhere.
“There were a few on their side coming onto the straight and there were some cars in the fence at Hungry Corner, which incidentally had a fence on the outside in the early days.”
Dyno smiled broadly when Steve Johnson emerged onto the Lakeside bitumen behind the wheel of Tru-Blu 2.
“Well, Steve wasn’t hanging around let me tell you. He was reeling off 57’s and 59’s so that is not going around with your right arm sitting on the door.
“For a first time out in a freshly built car, it was pretty impressive really. It’s got a few issues that have to be sorted but that is to be expected.”
Since retiring from DJR at the Bahrain V8 Supercars meeting in 2010, Dyno dabbled in his own home maintenance business in the bayside suburbs of Brisbane, however, is all but in golfing and caravanning retirement these days.
He does admit to missing the motor racing family unit, although not so much the candle-at-both-ends all-night rebuilds.
“The thing I really miss is the team environment because I made a lot of good friends over the years in this game.
“When you go from being involved with 20 other people and then you are working by yourself it is a bit of a shock to the system.
“You really miss the chats with the team and the general camaraderie. But I don’t miss the all-nighters and finishing a race meeting then jumping in the truck and driving for hours to get back to home base.”
Dyno was present in the garage at Bathurst last year when DJR Team Penske claimed the Bathurst 1000 with its hot shoe Scott McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat.
“I drove the extra truck which carried the TCM Mustang and golf carts and all the other stuff in it to Bathurst,” he said.
“So I was sitting in the garage and it was a real buzz.”
Dyno is happy to be in retirement these days after winding down his home maintenance concern.
“I’m really retired now,” he said.
“Every so often we jump in the caravan and I’m totally enjoying it. We had a golfing weekend planned recently but that had to be canned because of what is happening in the world.
“There’s a lot more people worse off. I have a few friends with businesses and they are bleeding. They still have bills coming in and nothing else coming in.
“There’s a lot of people in that boat with small businesses and so many are going to go to the wall.”