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05 Isn't a Limit - It's a Legend PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Thursday, 13 October 2016 09:16

So who watched Channel 10's Peter Brock telemovie this week? Want to know what I thought? 


It was pathetic.

Now before I go any further, I must say that heading into this I knew that the target audience was not the hardcore motorsport enthusiast, it was the regular person who knew who Peter Brock was but didn't know the story. And this is fair enough. However it doesn't excuse the way that the "mock-umentary" proceeded from there.

Channel Seven's refusal to give the producers archive race footage is obvious and the whole production suffers because of it. As a direct result there is a lot of new footage edited to look old, and a lot of amateur footage. But they did get many of the old cars right. Whether those were faithful recreations for the movie or the real deal from the Bowden or Champion Collections I'm not sure. Brock's Holden engined Austin (likely Peter Champion’s Brock-built replica) makes multiple appearances, as does paddock basher, both of which are nice touches. 

Brock is portrayed as a philandering womaniser, to which there is an element of truth. I've read a number of biographies on the man and allegations of womanising and spousal abuse from his younger days are rampant. But even though much of that information is already available to those who look for it, I got the impression that the producers were almost trying to tarnish the enduring reputation of the legend.

There were many continuity errors and timeline errors too, perhaps it was easier to explain the story to somebody who wasn't paying attention this way. And there was a great many glaring omissions; the 1979 Repco Round Australia Trial was considered by Brock himself to be one of his greatest achievements, yet it doesn't make the movie at all. Bathurst 1979 set the scene for the dominance that Brock and the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team would display in the first half of the 80s, and the resultant victory margin of 6 laps is still a record nearly 40 years after it happened. This was seen as revenge for Ford and Allan Moffatt's 1/2 formation finish of 1977, yet Bathurst 1979 is given about 7 seconds of screen time and the significance is downplayed completely. 

Moffat and Bond crossing the finish line in 1977. Archive image from Google, claim if yours

Moving into the 80s and the era of HDT Special Vehicles, the car in the background when GMH executives come visit the workshop was a 2 tone green VC, just like the original concept was and that is a nice touch. But the timeline fails continue, and just like Bathurst 1979 is glossed over, the achievement of Bathurst 1984, with the 1/2 finish for Brock and the MHDT were hugely significant at the time but missed completely in the film. With the exception of some snippets of Sandown footage, other rounds of the ATCC of which Brock and the team also dominated during this time was also completely lacking. And while plenty of time was given to building up the rivalry between Brock and Allan Moffat, they failed to mention that Brock offered Moffat a drive on more than one occasion during the 80s.

Then we get to the chiropractor and the Energy Polarizer. I feel this was somewhat accurately portrayed, and as the world begged him not to do it, Brock continued steadfast and unmoving, just like the true story. Though again this was portrayed in a much more dramatic fashion. 

But nothing irritated me more than the portrayal of Bathurst 1987. I suppose they got the core bits right; Brock hopped into the #10 car after the #05 developed engine trouble early on, chased down the Texaco Sierras which finished first and second, with Brock finishing third on the road before the two Texaco Fords got disqualified for illegal bodywork and Brock's third place finish became first. But this happened about 9 months later. The protest was lodged before the race (which was mentioned) but the resultant change in race classification happened nearly a year later, not on the podium on the day. The trophy was presented on screen by Channel Ten motorsports presenter Greg Rust, and he should know better. And again the film suffered for its lack of archive race footage, as Brock's drive on 1987 was phenomenal. Check it out below:


Brock's tough years post-HDT are portrayed with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it montage of his Mobil 1 liveried race cars-the E30 BMW, the RS500 Sierra, the VN Group A Commodore and the VP 5.0L V8 Supercar of 1993; before all is healed and he's seen awkwardly making a tv commercial for the Frontera, Holden’s Isuzu-sourced pretend four wheel drive of the mid-90s. To represent such a difficult time with about 20 seconds of screen time is a little bit poor. But then again when you’ve only got 240 minutes (minus ads) to tell 36 years of story, that’s only 6 minutes 36 seconds per year – a bit like one of those sporting year in review videos.

Bathurst 1991, image from Google

Then almost immediately we get to 1997 and the retirement season. They show a lot of footage of the Bathurst farewell parade, and the signs from around the Mountain, but again this was a serious time that was quickly glossed over. With some clever editing and recreation of his podium appearance, the story quickly moves onto he and Bev’s split. And from there, to his fateful event the Targa West. 

Among other things, by this stage in his racing career, Brock was driving a Cobra Daytona in Targa rallies. In interviews at the time, he claimed that the car was a pig to drive and that he had yet to fully come to grips with it. And this is demonstrated by the car on screen using up all the road and generally being driven untidily. And while Brock did rush back from the UK (he attended the Goodwood Festival of Speed the weekend prior) the portrayal as being jet lagged and not up to the task are terribly exaggerated.

There were a few things they got right. Brock was well known for his devotion to his fans – he would often stick around until the last fans left the track, and this was demonstrated twice. The first time at a high school after an anti-drink driving presentation, and again at Targa West before hopping into the car. Not sure of the legitimacy of either plot line, but they added nicely to the character. And like I said earlier, they made a great effort to get the cars right at least. 

However the downsides far outweigh the good. As any motor racing fan knows, the sport was heavily sponsored by the tobacco industry during the 70s and 80s, and the signage was mercilessly and poorly edited out of any footage. The Marlboro signs on the cars were crudely replaced with another HDT sign on the door of the car. Winfield signs around the track were replaced with SuperCheap Auto (only about 30 years before the company was started). Marlboro logos on signs and driving suits and other apparel was also poorly modified. I get that society in general looks down upon tobacco advertising today, but it could have been done so much better.

Why didn't they just do this with the tobacco sponsored cars?

So overall I give it 3/10.

But I suppose a bigger and more damning thing is that the whole production has been slammed by the Brock family and just about anybody who was involved in Brock’s life in any way. Bev Brock was involved with the production team initially, but pulled out when she felt that the film was going to overdramatise the story. James Brock posted on his personal facebook page slamming the whole thing. His rant would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. 



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