Much more famous for his long-standing role in the Australian touring car scene, Larry Perkins will be celebrating his 60th birthday today!
A bespectacled man who rose through the junior ranks in Australian motorsport before embarking on the now-customary journey to the UK made by any Australian with ambition of making it into F1.
He made his mark with some gritty drives in the European F3 championship, which he won in 1975 with three wins.
It was actually the year before that Perkins made his F1 debut at the German GP (pictured above), being drafted into the line-up at the eleventh hour to substitute for Chris Amon in his ill-fated eponymous team. Incredibly, Perkins lapped faster around the daunting circuit than what Amon had managed, but he was the 30th-fastest driver in a field of 32, and failed to qualify.
His aforementioned performances in the 1975 F3 championship were enough to see him signed to the Ensign team for a few races in 1976, and he acquitted himself well in the half-dozen outings for the little team, only failing to make the grid at Monaco, with a best result of 8th at the Belgian GP.
When Carlos Reutemann jumped ship from Brabham to Ferrari after that year’s Italian GP, Perkins was drafted into the Martini-sponsored outfit. In his three outings for the team, he failed to finish any of the races, and was another driver who, along with Niki Lauda, withdrew from the monsoonal Japanese GP at Fuji.
His performances weren’t enough to see him signed on with the team in 1977, and he made a disastrous switch to the Stanley BRM team, by then an embarrassing shadow of its former self. His two outings with the team were despondingly unsuccessful, and he walked out of the team before attempting to contest a handful of Grands Prix with the Surtees team.
Larry returned to Australia and won the 1979 Formula 5000 championship, before starting a long and fruitful career in saloon and touring cars. He won the Bathurst 1000 race on six separate occasions, and now concentrates on team and driver management, particularly the prospects of his son, Jack.
From Richard’s F1, we wish Larry a very happy 60th today!
[Image via AUTOSPORT]