Courtney addresses million dollar myth
Saturday 4th November, 2023 - 10:50am
James Courtney has addressed the million dollar myth about his move to the Holden Racing Team in 2011 in the latest Speedcafe Podcast.
Courtney was the reigning Supercars champion when manager Alan Gow engineered a high-profile move from Dick Johnson Racing to HRT.
The deal came amid talks that Courtney would head to what was then known as Ford Performance Racing with backing from Pepsi.
It was always known to be a highly-lucrative deal for Courtney, with speculation at the time that he was wooed to Clayton by a million dollar per year salary.
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But is that true?
In the latest Speedcafe Podcast, Courtney didn’t entirely debunk the rumour, but did admit that the step up in pay from what he was on at DJR wasn’t as much as people thought.
In the recently released book Dick Johnson Racing: First to 1000, team owner Dick Johnson revealed that the team signed Courtney on an $800,000 per year deal in 2009.
So whether his HRT deal hit the million dollar mark depends on what Courtney’s definition of “a little bit more” is.
“I don’t know. Is it a myth? Did I get [a million] at [DJR]?” was Courtney’s coy response when pressed on the matter by Mark Fogarty.
“No, it was a little bit more HRT but it wasn’t a lot more.”
In the revealing chat with Fogarty, Courtney explained that his preference was to stay at DJR beyond the 2010 season.
He only made the move given the indications that DJR would fold thanks to the fractured relationship between Johnson and co-owner Charlie Schwerkolt.
“I would have stayed at DJs, as we’d just won the championship, or we were winning the championship when it all fell apart,” he said.
“And we were told, ‘[the team] can’t honour the contracts next year. Everything’s done. Everyone go and find new jobs’.
“And that’s when a lot of the number ones went to Triple Eight. [Adrian] Burgess went to Triple Eight. Scottie [Sinclair] and I went to HRT. I think it’s something like 60 or 70 percent of the race team had found other employment… and then that week of Homebush, Steve Brabeck saved Dick’s bacon and kept the team, as everyone knows.
“If Steve had coming in before, then for sure I would have stayed. We’d just beaten Triple Eight with their old car. We had an amazing bunch of guys.
“I’ve never, even to this day, had that feeling within a team of what we had DJs at that time, and that’s… the only reason we won that championship was because that everyone that was on the floor and in that team wanted it as much as I did. And we all believed in each other’s ability, and focused on our own jobs and doing our own jobs properly.
“And then we all succeeded together. The only reason we won was down to everyone on that floor. It wasn’t down to me. It wasn’t down to Adrian… it was down to everyone doing their their job. So why would I leave that environment?”
Hear more from James Courtney on the latest Speedcafe Podcast.