Australian motorsport great John Harvey, a Bathurst 1000 winner in 1983, has died at age 82 of lung cancer.
Harvey passed away on Saturday night and his family made an announcement via social media.
“Last night at 8:45 sadly our Dad, John Francis Harvey, passed away peacefully with his family by his side,” a family statement on John Harvey’s Facebook page read.
“Most people will have fond memories of Dad’s amazing racing career and the great memories of him will live on forever.
“To us he was much more, a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, supporting all of us whenever we needed his guidance and love.
“What a life he has lived travelling the world racing with and against the best in the business, always a true gentleman.
“We all know his most proudest achievement was us. We will dearly miss him but we know the time was right.”
It was announced last month that Harvey, born in Sydney in 1938, had terminal lung cancer.
Harvey’s racing career began in the 1950s, as a top speedway driver. He switched to road racing in the mid-1960s, under the legendary Bob Jane, and had a particular passion for open-wheelers. The open-wheel Australian 1.5 Litre Championship of 1966 and the 1971 and 1972 Australian Sports Car Championships counted among his titles.
He dabbled in touring cars during the mid-1960s and claimed his first championship race win in 1976, at Symmons Plains driving a privateer Torana. He was a runner-up in the Bathurst 1000 that same year, teamed with Colin Bond.
His most high-profile triumph, the 1983 Bathurst win, came in extraordinary – and quite explosive – circumstances.
Harvey was teamed with Phil Brock, Peter Brock’s brother, in the #25 VH Commodore for that edition of the iconic Mt Panorama race. Peter Brock was racing with Larry Perkins and the four drivers were within the Holden Dealer Team (HDT).
Harvey started the race in the team’s second car, while Peter Brock drove the famous 05 car from pole position – until disaster struck.
After just eight laps, ‘Peter Perfect’ pulled his HDT car into the pits, smoke pouring from the engine. His race seemed finished, until a ruthless move was pulled.
It was then within the rules for a pair of drivers to switch to another car within their team, which is what Peter Brock and Perkins did. Harvey pitted from second place and his driving in that race was done.
Brock and Perkins seized the lead on lap 48 and won the Bathurst 1000 by more than a lap from Allan Moffat and Yoshimi Katayama.
Having driven the first eight laps in the victorious car, Harvey was credited alongside Peter Brock and Perkins as a race winner. They were the first trio of drivers crowned champions of the Bathurst 1000.
Phil Brock, who didn’t get to drive, missed out; an especially brutal turn of events given his brother’s central role. For Peter Brock, it was his seventh of nine Bathurst wins. and his fifth in six years.
That was just one colourful chapter in Harvey’s racing career. He was a three-time runner-up in the Bathurst 1000, with second places in 1976, 1984 and 1986. He finished third in the 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship, driving an HDT Torana.
He won his class, and was fourth outright, in the 1987 Spa 24 Hours with Allan Moffat and Tony Mulvihill. That same year, he won the opening round of the World Touring Car Championship at Monza, again with Moffat.
Harvey retired from competitive motorsport after the 1988 Bathurst 1000. Aside from his racing exploits, Harvey was also a key figure in the Holden Special Vehicles program and the Holden Racing Team outfit in V8 Supercars. He had motor oil in his blood, to the end.
Harvey was inducted into the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 2018 and this year was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to motorsport.