Three-time Supercars championship winning team owner Ross Stone will open the doors of his Yatala-based race team to Victorian Supercars squad Team 18.
To keep the Supercars Championship alive amongst the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic, all Victorian Supercars teams will head into Queensland after the Sydney Motorsport Park event, starting today.
Team 18, which fields the #18 IRWIN Commodore of Mark Winterbottom and the #20 DEWALT Commodore of Scott Pye, will set up base for a minimum of two weeks at Ross Stone’s Yatala workshop, preparing for the next event of the championship at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin.
Stone is best known for his time in the Supercars Championship as a team owner. Establishing his own ‘Stone Brothers Racing’ team with his brother Jimmy in 1997, the pair went on to win three-consecutive Supercars Championships, including two with Marcos Ambrose (2003 and 2004) and one with Russell Ingall (2005).
The team also won the 1998 Bathurst 1000 with Jason Bright and Steven Richards.
SBR competed until 2012 before being bought by Betty Klimenko and her Erebus Motorsport team.
Mainly operating out of the spotlight, Stone now runs his own boutique race team for specialised clients in various racing categories in Australia.
One common link between Stone and Schwerkolt’s Team 18 is major sponsor IRWIN. The US-owned tool giant was brought into the sport in 2009 with SBR, running Alex Davison and Lee Holdsworth in the famous blue and yellow colours.
The Supercars hit the track today for practice, qualifying and a race under lights at the Sydney Motorsport Park venue.
Owner, Team 18
“It’s an incredible gesture from Ross Stone to allow us to temporarily setup our race team on the Gold Coast for two weeks while we are on route to Darwin,” said Schwerkolt.
“He’s an incredible operator, a Supercars Hall of Famer, Bathurst and championship-winning team owner, but also an incredible bloke.
“He just rang me out of the blue and asked if I would like to setup in his workshop, and I just thought “what a great offer that was.”
“So that was really kind and he’s got a great setup. He’s got a couple of hoists already setup, no all Supercar teams put their cars on hoists but we do.
“My Waverley Forklifts business is only four doors away so my staff will be able to come down and see the race team in operation, that team collaboration between my companies is really important to me.
“Ross had been using his workshop for restoring the 2004 and 2005 championship-winning cars driven by Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall, so he had plenty of room and the timing worked out great.
“We had a relationship with Ross when we both raced the Holden Colorados in the Super Ute Series so I got to know him really well during that time.
“For a long time the Supercars industry has been split between the Gold Coast and Melbourne, and the Stone Brothers ran their impressive squad from Yatala during their period in the sport.
“I live here on the Gold Coast and I used to commute to Melbourne each week to visit the team, so now it will be great for me to see my whole race team operating every day and preparing the cars.
“It’s also quite ironic that the Stone Brothers ran the IRWIN car for a few years from this workshop with Lee Holdsworth and Alex Davison driving and there is even some old IRWIN signage still there.”
Supercars Hall of Famer
“Charlie and I often catch up over a coffee, and his Waverley Forklifts Queensland base is only four factories up the road, so it’s just one of those things that happened pretty easily,” said Stone.
“It’s such an uncertain time and Charlie’s crew are going to be away from home for so long and it was just an offer to make their lives a bit better and easier for them.
“By the time they get here it will be already for them, it’s a strange time we are going through and I’ve never seen things change so quickly.
“One minute they had to get out of Melbourne and up to Sydney and soon they need to get out of Sydney and into Queensland, so hopefully everybody can stay healthy and get on with the job and go racing.
“One of the hoists they will be using is where the IRWIN car was actually based on when we prepared it back then, so it’s a bit of a return to old times.
“IRWIN as a company has changed ownership and everything since then, but it’s great to see them still involved in Supercars and supporting Charlie’s team.”