V8 Supercars executive chairman Tony Cochrane preempted the official distribution of a formal media release announcing his resignation from the sport this afternoon with a personal note to his friends and colleagues. That letter can be read here in full.
The amazing lyrics of Angus & Malcolm Young and Bon Scott nearly sum it up – “It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.” It certainly has been a long way to where the sport is today, and hopefully we've all enjoyed some rock and roll moments along the way! I have not only enjoyed the ride, but importantly, have loved the experience and the friends I have made along the way.
Attached to this letter, to my friends and colleagues, is our Press Release of today informing of my pending departure from V8 Supercars as Executive Chairman.
We have together enjoyed great times with our manufacturers, sponsors, media partners, Government partners, CAMS and the FIA, and so many associates on this journey. To all the Teams, and especially the Drivers and Team Owners, V8SA staff and management – now and in the past – along with all the Volunteers, a massive thank you for all your support and faith over such a long time. And of course, our fans of the sport who are so dedicated and without whom the sport and the business would have never have climbed to these lofty heights.
I did want to drop you all a personal note to thank you for all your assistance and support over a very long and amazing journey. It only seems like yesterday (but it's nearly sixteen and a half years), since I was given the opportunity to fix Australian touring car racing! When we moved in we only had two contracts, no money, owned no rights and the sport's name sounded more like a blood disorder than an exciting sport! Today the sport is on the world map in every sense, has a brilliant management team, is a multi-million dollar enterprise and of course turns on some of the finest motorsport for touring cars in the world (and we have contracts everywhere!!). I am very proud and humbled to have represented our Teams and drivers during such an exciting growth phase of this amazing sport and business as the Executive Chairman.
It is easy in the cut and thrust of our business to forget the enormous joy and pleasure we bring to hundreds of thousands of fans, both live at the track and on our various media outlets. We have never attempted to take that for granted and I know those sentiments are reflected by all our staff and our talented teams and drivers as well. It has been a massive privilege to be at the forefront of this chapter in Australian motorsport and for helping me make that happen, in a big way or a small way, I sincerely thank you. If at some stage we disagreed please take this as a mass apology, just in case I was wrong!! (A bit like the Fonz I have trouble with that word).
In penning this letter I would like to thank and acknowledge some outstanding individuals that have been so helpful to me on my journey at V8 Supercars. I have attempted to keep it short.
In no particular order, my first Government contacts, John Olsen and Shane Stone, without whom all of this would not have been possible; you both believed in me then and still do today! To Mark Skaife, such a loyal and amazing friend and associate whom I have seen make a transition from being a Champion driver to Chairman of our Commission – the sport has a bright future with Mark's dedication and passion. Wayne Cattach who played alongside of me for a long time in a pivotal period of the sport and business – thank you, again!
So many in the media I could fill pages naming but importantly Bruce McWilliam, Simon Francis and Kerry Stokes at 7, the scribes Gordon Lomas, James Phelps and Bruce Newton, even Foges, our own Cole Hitchcock, the commentary team Matty, Beretts, MS and Larko – all clowns but professional clowns!! John McAlpine and David White who shared the early vision. Harto of course – a true legend. Leckie, boy I miss those arguments mate and your passion!
My great thanks to Garry Connelly, his behind the scenes work for motorsport has to be seen to be appreciated. Tim Schenken who is so much a part of this success. Our own Reverend, Garry Coleman – of all the referee letters I have penned over the years in support of people being put forward for an Order of Australia, this is the one I took the greatest pleasure in writing – Garry has been there for the V8 family so often we all take his tremendous work for granted. Mr. E for always providing me with great guidance. The late and very great Barry Sheene – I still feel his loss (and I still talk to him!). My mate and proudly my business partner for nearly 22 years James Erskine, along with Basil Scaffidi – what a team and what friends, it's not the same without them! And not forgetting David Coe, champion bloke, who always took care of the drinks; in particular we remember the 1992 Chateau Latour! Geoff Jones, the Colonel – if you are going to have someone in your corner pick this guy, enough said. Peter and Mac – no one could ask for a better brother and sister. John Conde – always a gentlemen and a lover of true cars. John Harnden, another gentlemen. My Irish connection Richard Cregan, now he has forgotten more about motorsport than I'll ever know! Tavo who was the first of the true believers' in the USA.
The former Mayor of Bathurst, Ian McIntosh, his leadership was the cornerstone of Bathurst today. All the people who made Indy/GC 600 possible, so many, but all so highly thought of by me. John Howe, who engineered us to success. The ultimate roadie – Eric Robinson, 40 years working together, that says it all! My long suffering P.A's over the journey – Cathy, Bernii and Nico, enough said, all brilliant! Dr Bill and now Dr Carl – V8's are a lot safer place for all because of them. Paul C and all the crew in Darwin – amazing. Garry Craft who goes so far back he helped me come up with the name V8 Supercars. Fergus and Andrew at the Island – just terrific. Bill Gibson for the belief from day one, and then helping us make it happen.
Tim Miles – in all his capacities and his consul. Team Owners – past and present but all contributors in every way – however, honourable mentions go to Larry P, Dick J, Garry R, Big Bird, John C, Tim E, Paul M, Charlie S, Glen S, Rod N and the Albury brothers. Of course Bob Forbes and Cromley for getting me into this in the first place! The Logie though is going to Ross and Jimmy Stone, true salt of the earth brothers who helped enormously in building this business. Roland for his untiring efforts during the sale process. John Witheriff for so much legal guidance and wise advice over nearly 20 years. Justin Milne for his unwavering support of all we did. Roger Cook and Andrew et al in Adelaide – and they said we would never last!!!! The list could go on and on…
My greatest thanks though are to all the staff and management (past and present), who really made this all happen – so many great dedicated people who shared our dream! To the hard working Boards over all those years, thank you for your dedication to the sport and for putting up with me! My special thanks to the team at Archer and the current Board – I know it's in great hands.
To the senior management team under David, thank you all for your energy and determination to get us to the top. A special mention for my long serving colleague and friend Shane Howard, words are inadequate to acknowledge your efforts over many years. I wish each and every one of you an exciting and rewarding future – if I can assist or advise please feel free to call, that's what mates do.
To my darling wife Thea and our three terrific kids – Lauren, Harley and Ally. Thank you for all your support and love; I'm a lucky guy.
So me… well, a new journey awaits – I have no idea today how or where – but my passion, determination and fire are all still here! Whether it's entertainment or another sport, who knows? Maybe I'll find a University that will have me and finally get around to finishing an education!?!? I certainly know the time is right to try something new in my own entrepreneurial way.
Again I thank you – I wouldn't have missed this ride, it's been incredible!
Warmest regards and my best wishes,