Craig Lowndes will become the first driver in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship/Virgin Australia Supercars Championship to compete in 600 races in the Sunday race of the Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint.
The milestone comes at the circuit where Lowndes made his championship debut at the start of 1996, a season in which he won the title, Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.
Twenty years on, V8X Supercar Magazine celebrates that anniversary with a retro pullout poster of Lowndes' 1996 'Triple Crown' in issue #94 - pictured above.
CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of V8X Supercar Magazine issue #94.
CLICK HERE to purchase the Lowndes 1996 poster uncreased, unfolded, unstapled and printed on high-quality photographic stock – 15 per cent off for a limited time only!
Lowndes has won 105 of his 598 races for a winning strike rate of 17.5 per cent. So in honour of the milestone, we update a feature that appeared in issue #88 and pinpoint the 17 best wins of Lowndes' career and list all 105 of his race wins:
1996 EASTERN CREEK
Lowndes had already stunned the establishment with his starring debut at Mount Panorama in 1994. Then he hit the championship by storm in 1996. At the first round of the season at the short Eastern Creek layout, Lowndes harried John Bowe in the first race before getting the jump and scoring his first win in the second race. He backed that up with his second win under lights in the final race for a sensational round victory. He would go on to sweep the season with the championship plus Sandown and Bathurst victories.
Following his domination of the 1996 season, Lowndes ventured to Europe to compete in Formula 3000 in 1997. After a character-building season, he returned home and claimed victory at the Sandown 500 with Greg Murphy in preparation for a full-time return from 1998. He picked up where he left off, claiming two of three races at the season-opening Sandown round in an emphatic return to the championship.
1998 ORAN PARK
Lowndes wrapped up his first championship in 1996 with a round to spare. In 1998 he headed into the final round of the season at Oran Park with an in-form Russell Ingall just six points behind. Both had debuted their new VT Commodores the round before at Hidden Valley, but Ingall won the round while Lowndes' car suffered a series of mechanical failures. Lowndes, however, lifted for the finale, claiming pole position and racing away to sweep the round with comfortable victories in all three races.
Perhaps the most convincing of all of Lowndes' wins was at the first Adelaide 500 round on the punishing street circuit. Lowndes won the first 250km leg despite contact with privateer Danny Osborne. He was sent to the back of the grid for the second leg, only to work his way through the field without the aid of a safety-car intervention. While the heat and demands of the circuit took its toll on his rivals, Lowndes kept his cool for an incredible come-from-behind win. Though he won both legs, the original format for the Adelaide 500 saw both legs combined into one race.
Lowndes shocked V8 Supercars when he departed from the Holden Racing Team to cross the manufacturer divide in a striking silver and black Gibson Motorsport Ford AU Falcon. After second in the opening round at Phillip Island, Lowndes headed to Adelaide and from eighth on the grid avoided the carnage around him for his first win in a Ford and 50th all-time race win. A collision with Skaife in the second race would rob him of another round win in Adelaide.
Wet weather is a great equaliser in motorsport and that proved to be the case at the 2001 season finale at Sandown, where torrential rain allowed Lowndes to overcome the deficiencies of his AU Falcon. The race started under the safety car and Lowndes, from third on the grid, overcame the challenge of fellow AU Falcon runner, rookie sensation Marcos Ambrose, to score what would be his second and final win for Gibson Motorsport.
2003 PHILLIP ISLAND
Lowndes' spell with Ford Performance Racing was characterised by frustration as the new factory Ford outfit struggled with reliability and pace. So while Stone Brothers Racing and Ambrose would take the new BA Falcon to a title, Lowndes battled away for minor placings. Nevertheless, at the second round at Phillip Island, he fought through from sixth on the grid on a wet day to be leading when the race was red flagged early due to torrential conditions.
2005 EASTERN CREEK
Lowndes' move to Triple Eight in 2005 would revive a career that appeared to have stalled since his defection to Ford. The Roland Dane-led team was on the up and Lowndes' arrival would bring the team into contention. At the fourth round of the season at Eastern Creek, Lowndes beat Ambrose with a quicker compulsory pitstop for the team's breakthrough win. Defeating the dominant team at the time in a straight head-to-head was a decisive moment in the team's rise.
The momentum of that breakthrough win carried into the endurance events. Lowndes teamed with versatile Frenchman Yvan Muller for the long-distance races, with the duo putting in a virtuoso performance at Sandown to confirm their reputations as wet weather masters. From second on the grid, Lowndes pulled away from the field in the opening stint while Muller dealt with the changeable middle-stint conditions with ease. But a strategy gamble had handed Skaife the lead, forcing Lowndes to hunt him down on an increasingly wet track and pass with four laps remaining. It would be the first of many Triple Eight endurance triumphs.
2006 MOUNT PANORAMA
The death of Peter Brock a month before set the tone for a sombre 2006 Bathurst 1000. Lowndes – as Brock's protégé – was thrust into the spotlight and even took part in a pre-race parade of Brock's cars. Without a win at Mount Panorama since 1996, Lowndes and new co-driver Jamie Whincup fought back from an early strategic error that sent them to the back of the pack. The duo worked their way into the lead, with Lowndes holding off Rick Kelly in an edge-of-your-seat finish. Fittingly, Lowndes and Whincup held aloft the Peter Brock Trophy with Lowndes unable to hold back the tears.
2007 MOUNT PANORAMA
Lowndes' ability in damp conditions and love of Mount Panorama stood out in the closing stages of the 2007 Bathurst 1000. As rain increased, many struggled in the conditions and high-calibre drivers such as Mark Winterbottom, Jason Bright, Ingall and Skaife all fell victim. Lowndes battled away with Steven Johnson on slick tyres on the slippery track to claim a second consecutive Bathurst 1000 win with Whincup.
2010 MOUNT PANORAMA
New co-driver rules that forced full-time drivers to remain in their own cars for the endurance events separated Triple Eight's dream team of Lowndes and Whincup. Triple Eight recruited Lowndes' former teammate Skaife as his co-driver for 2010 and the duo won first up at Phillip Island. At Mount Panorama, Lowndes was again in top form with a record-breaking lap in practice (2:06.8012). In the race, Skaife was troubled with a back complaint and Lowndes would be forced to triple stint from lap 82 to lap 161 and fight back to regain lost track position. He just avoided the limit on driving time to lead home a Triple Eight one-two formation finish.
The 2013 V8 Supercars marked a season of change for the series and Lowndes and his team. The introduction of the Car of the Future regulations ushered in new manufacturers, while Holden introduced the VF Commodore and Triple Eight debuted with new title sponsor Red Bull. Showing his versatility as he approached his 40th birthday, Lowndes won the first race of this new era on the streets of Adelaide to equal Skaife at top of the all-time wins' list with 90 victories.
Lowndes didn't have to wait long to surpass Skaife's mark. Three events later at his favourite Barbagallo Raceway hunting ground, he moved up from fourth on the grid to second in the first half of the 60/60km Super Sprint race. He got the jump over Whincup at the start and raced away for the record-breaking 91st win. Skaife was in parc ferme to welcome home and congratulate his former teammate.
2015 HIDDEN VALLEY
As Lowndes edged closer to the 100 mark, the pressure mounted. Two wins on the Saturday at Symmons Plains left Lowndes sitting nervously on 99, but he squandered the chance to notch up the century on Sunday with a clumsy divebomb on David Reynolds off the start. Three events later at Hidden Valley, the seas parted for him when front-row starters Rick Kelly and Fabian Coulthard collided into turn one and he vaulted from fifth on the grid into a lead he would hold for the rest of the race. A relieved Lowndes could finally claim the century in, incredibly, the 888th championship race in the #888 car a day before his 41st birthday.
2015 MOUNT PANORAMA
Lowndes and co-driver Steven Richards' experience showed through yet again at Mount Panorama in 2015. Lowndes sprinted away from his rivals in the final stint for a win that took him to six Bathurst 1000 victories, moving clear at the top of the all-time Bathurst podium finishes tally with 13 with his eighth podium from the last 10 attempts. It also was Holden's 30th at Mount Panorama and Richards' fourth Bathurst win.
Lowndes has scored more wins at Barbagallo Raceway than at any other circuit, with 15 victories in Western Australia heading into this season's event where rain played havoc with strategies in the Saturday race. With drivers forced onto slicks earlier than hoped, Lowndes and his TeamVortex crew opted for a two-stop strategy with 20 laps to go. Down in 22nd place with a half a minute deficit to the leader, Lowndes surged through the field as his rivals struggled with worn tyres. He took the lead with four laps to go and survived a second rain shower on the last lap for his 16th win at Barbagallo Raceway.
Craig Lowndes' championship race wins:
1. 1996 Eastern Creek, Round 1 Race 2 - Holden VR Commodore
2. 1996 Eastern Creek, Round 1 Race 3 - Holden VR Commodore
3. 1996 Sandown, Round 2 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
4. 1996 Symmons Plains, Round 4 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
5. 1996 Symmons Plains, Round 4 Race 2 - Holden VR Commodore
6. 1996 Symmons Plains, Round 4 Race 3 - Holden VR Commodore
7. 1996 Phillip Island, Round 5 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
8. 1996 Calder Park, Round 6 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
9. 1996 Lakeside, Round 7 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
10. 1996 Lakeside, Round 7 Race 2 - Holden VR Commodore
11. 1996 Lakeside, Round 7 Race 3 - Holden VR Commodore
12. 1996 Barbagallo, Round 8 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
13. 1996 Barbagallo, Round 8 Race 2 - Holden VR Commodore
14. 1996 Barbagallo, Round 8 Race 3 - Holden VR Commodore
15. 1996 Mallala, Round 9 Race 1 - Holden VR Commodore
16. 1996 Mallala, Round 9 Race 2 - Holden VR Commodore
17. 1998 Sandown, Round 1 Race 2 - Holden VS Commodore
18. 1998 Sandown, Round 1 Race 3 - Holden VS Commodore
19. 1998 Symmons Plains, Round 2 Race 2 - Holden VS Commodore
20. 1998 Symmons Plains, Round 2 Race 3 - Holden VS Commodore
21. 1998 Phillip Island, Round 4 Race 2 - Holden VS Commodore
22. 1998 Mallala, Round 6 Race 3 - Holden VS Commodore
23. 1998 Barbagallo, Round 7 Race 1 - Holden VS Commodore
24. 1998 Barbagallo, Round 7 Race 2 - Holden VS Commodore
25. 1998 Barbagallo, Round 7 Race 3 - Holden VS Commodore
26. 1998 Calder Park, Round 8 Race 1 - Holden VS Commodore
27. 1998 Hidden Valley, Round 9 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
28. 1998 Oran Park, Round 10 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
29. 1998 Oran Park, Round 10 Race 2 - Holden VT Commodore
30. 1998 Oran Park, Round 10 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
31. 1999 Eastern Creek, Round 1 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
32. 1999 Adelaide, Round 2 - Holden VT Commodore
33. 1999 Barbagallo, Round 3 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
34. 1999 Barbagallo, Round 3 Race 2 - Holden VT Commodore
35. 1999 Barbagallo, Round 3 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
36. 1999 Phillip Island, Round 4 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
37. 1999 Sandown, Round 6 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
38. 1999 Queensland Raceway, Round 7 Race 2 - Holden VT Commodore
39. 1999 Calder Park, Round 8 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
40. 2000 Phillip Island, Round 1 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
41. 2000 Barbagallo, Round 2 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
42. 2000 Barbagallo, Round 2 Race 2 - Holden VT Commodore
43. 2000 Barbagallo, Round 2 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
44. 2000 Adelaide, Round 3 Leg 1 - Holden VT Commodore
45. 2000 Canberra, Round 6 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
46. 2000 Queensland Raceway, Round 7 Race 1 - Holden VT Commodore
47. 2000 Queensland Raceway, Round 7 Race 2 - Holden VT Commodore
48. 2000 Queensland Raceway, Round 7 Race 3 - Holden VT Commodore
49. 2000 Queensland Raceway, Round 11 (with Mark Skaife) - Holden VT Commodore
50. 2001 Adelaide, Round 2 Leg 1 - Ford AU Falcon
51. 2001 Sandown, Round 13 Race 3 - Ford AU Falcon
52. 2003 Phillip Island Round 2 - Ford BA Falcon
53. 2005 Eastern Creek Round 4 Race 2 - Ford BA Falcon
54. 2005 Queensland Raceway, Round 7 - Ford BA Falcon
55. 2005 Sandown, Round 9 (with Yvan Muller) - Ford BA Falcon
56. 2005 Surfers Paradise, Round 11 Race 2 - Ford BA Falcon
57. 2005 Surfers Paradise, Round 11 Race 3 - Ford BA Falcon
58. 2005 Phillip Island, Round 13 Race 1 - Ford BA Falcon
59. 2006 Adelaide, Round 1 Leg 1 - Ford BA Falcon
60. 2006 Winton, Round 4 Race 3 - Ford BA Falcon
61. 2006 Hidden Valley, Round 5 Race 3 - Ford BA Falcon
62. 2006 Oran Park, Round 7 Race 3 - Ford BA Falcon
63. 2006 Mount Panorama, Round 9 (with Jamie Whincup) - Ford BA Falcon
64. 2007 Hidden Valley, Round 6 Race 2 - Ford BF Falcon
65. 2007 Hidden Valley, Round 6 Race 3 - Ford BF Falcon
66. 2007 Oran Park, Round 8 Race 2 - Ford BF Falcon
67. 2007 Sandown, Round 9 (with Jamie Whincup) - Ford BF Falcon
68. 2007 Mount Panorama, Round 10 (with Jamie Whincup) - Ford BF Falcon
69. 2007 Bahrain, Round 12 Race 3 - Ford BF Falcon
70. 2008 Sandown, Round 5 Race 2 - Ford BF Falcon
71. 2008 Mount Panorama, Round 10 (with Jamie Whincup) - Ford BF Falcon
72. 2009 Winton, Race 5 - Ford FG Falcon
73. 2009 Winton, Race 6 - Ford FG Falcon
74. 2009 Barbagallo, Race 26 - Ford FG Falcon
75. 2010 Phillip Island, Race 17 (with Mark Skaife) - Holden VE Commodore
76. 2010 Mount Panorama, Race 18 (with Mark Skaife) - Holden VE Commodore
77. 2010 Symmons Plains, Race 21 - Holden VE Commodore
78. 2011 Queensland Raceway, Race 16 - Holden VE Commodore
79. 2011 Queensland Raceway, Race 17 - Holden VE Commodore
80. 2011 Queensland Raceway, Race 18 - Holden VE Commodore
81. 2011 Phillip Island, Race 19 (with Mark Skaife) - Holden VE Commodore
82. 2011 Homebush, Race 27 - Holden VE Commodore
83. 2012 Hidden Valley, Race 13 - Holden VE Commodore
84. 2012 Queensland Raceway, Race 16 - Holden VE Commodore
85. 2012 Queensland Raceway, Race 17 - Holden VE Commodore
86. 2012 Sydney Motorsport Park, Race 18 - Holden VE Commodore
87. 2012 Sandown, Race 20 (with Warren Luff) - Holden VE Commodore
88. 2012 Winton, Race 28 - Holden VE Commodore
89. 2012 Homebush, Race 29 - Holden VE Commodore
90. 2013 Adelaide, Race 1 - Holden VF Commodore
91. 2013 Barbagallo, Race 10 - Holden VF Commodore
92. 2013 Hidden Valley, Race 18 - Holden VF Commodore
93. 2013 Surfers Paradise, Race 29 (with Warren Luff) - Holden VF Commodore
94. 2013 Phillip Island, Race 32 - Holden VF Commodore
95. 2014 Adelaide, Race 2 - Holden VF Commodore
96. 2014 Symmons Plains, Race 6 - Holden VF Commodore
97. 2014 Barbagallo, Race 15 - Holden VF Commodore
98. 2015 Symmons Plains, Race 4 - Holden VF Commodore
99. 2015 Symmons Plains, Race 5 - Holden VF Commodore
100. 2015 Hidden Valley, Race 14 - Holden VF Commodore
101. 2015 Mount Panorama, Race 25 (with Steven Richards) – Holden VF Commodore
102. 2015 Phillip Island, Race 31 – Holden VF Commodore
103. 2015 Phillip Island, Race 33 – Holden VF Commodore
104. 2016 Barbagallo, Race 8 – Holden VF Commodore
105. 2016 Queensland Raceway, Race 17 – Holden VF Commodore