ASTC: Peter Hills Interview

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Sydney driver Peter Hills (born 3.11.58) has been racing in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship since its inception in 1994. Hills had his most successful season in 1999, winning the Independents Cup and finishing fifth outright...

Sydney driver Peter Hills (born 3.11.58) has been racing in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship since its inception in 1994. Hills had his most successful season in 1999, winning the Independents Cup and finishing fifth outright in the championship in a Ford Mondeo. He also raced in the international Guia Super Touring event at Macau in November.

Hills is also actively involved in the Camp Quality charity, and regularly takes children for rides in race cars. He will again drive a Mondeo in the championship in 2000, and will spearhead a two-car team for the third successive year. Here he speaks about various general topics, and his motor racing career.

QUESTION: Who is the best Australian-based driver at the moment? ANSWER: "Jim Richards. He can drive anything and he's the complete package. Jim is a tough competitor, but he's fair. I thought Paul Morris was a stand-out in Macau this year. It was his first time on that track and he adapted brilliantly. Outside Super Touring there are some good, young drivers in the V8s, like Craig Lowndes, Garth Tander, and Jason Bargwanna. Cameron McConville is another with loads of talent."

Q: What will happen on New Year's Eve with 'Y2K' and so on? A: "There's talk of planes falling out of the sky, but I think it will be situation normal. I'll be on holidays somewhere between Coffs Harbour and Brisbane for New Year's Eve."

Q: You're from Sydney - are you going to the Olympic Games? A: "No chance. Even if you're lucky enough to get a ticket you're going to have to fight with people to get in. I'll be staying at home and watching it on television. Maybe I'll rent my house out. I'm told you can get up to $10,000 a week."

Q: Who do you respect in motor racing? A: "Anyone who gets out there, has a go, and has fun doing it. Garry Rogers is one bloke who hasn't forgotten motorsport is supposed to be fun. He's serious about racing, but he doesn't take himself too seriously."

Q: As a youth you were a boxer - how good were you? A: "I boxed around the Police Boys Clubs in Sydney. They used to organise a lot of different sports. I was more of a boxer than a brawler. I had a long reach, and I was a southpaw."

Q: When did you first get interested in motorsport? A: "My parents took me to speedway every Saturday night when I was a kid. We went to Sydney Showgrounds in Summer and Westmead in Winter. It was almost a religion. There had to be a near-death in the family for us to miss it."

Q: Do you have any superstitions in motor racing? A: "I won't wear anything green. As I said my background is speedway and green is a 'no-no' there."

Q: When did you start racing touring cars? A: "I crewed for various teams in the early 1980s. Then, in 1986 I started racing a Mk 1 Escort sports sedan. A few years later I bought a Ford Sierra off Brian Bolwell - it was one of the ex-Benson & Hedges cars, built by Wolf Racing overseas. That was the car I raced when I started in the Super Touring championship. We were at the first round of the championship at Eastern Creek in '94 with a bunch of volunteers."

Q: How is Team Mondeo shaping up for the 2000 Super Touring championship? A: "We will be out there with two cars again. Now that we've won the Independents Cup we're looking at moving up to the next level. The next step is a big one, and it comes down to technical support and funding. I think the championship is heading in the right direction with the British Touring Car Championship 20001 cars and the Super Production class. That's going to make things cheaper for everyone."

Q: You are a passionate St George rugby league supporter. How did that happen? A: "I was born in the area. I saw St George beat Balmain in a grand final in the late 60's and I was there when we got belted by Easts in '74. That was the game when 'Changa' Langlands wore the white boots."

Q: Were you disappointed when St George merged with Illawarra as part of the restructured National Rugby League competition? A: "I don't think anybody likes it, but it's happening worldwide in every industry. Car companies are amalgamating, so it had to happen. Having said that I'm angered about the manner in which a foundation club like South Sydney got kicked out. They've been around 90 years. It's a crime."

Q:  Describe the perfect night out for Peter Hills?
A:  "The usual - out with my mates!"

Q: What is the highlight of your career so far? A: "Coming sixth in the '98 Bathurst 1000. It's a buzz for the whole team finishing 1000km around Bathurst, and to do so well in the company we were in against the overseas cars and drivers was just a great result. Winning this year's Independents Cup was another high."

Q: What is your worst moment in motor racing? A: "When Gregg Hansford died in a crash at Phillip Island in '95. He was a hero of mine. I sat in my car for an hour afterwards."

Q: What activities do you do for Camp Quality? A: "We take the kids for rides in the cars. Over the years we've involved quite of few of the Super Touring guys. I get enormous satisfaction when you see the look on the faces of these kids, some of whom have serious illnesses, when they get out of the car. When you see what these kids have to go through, with cancer treatment and so on, it makes you forget your own problems in a hurry."

Q: Do you have a favourite track? A: "Macau - it's awesome. It's more demanding than Bathurst, both physically and mentally. There's no room for error. It's high-speed and tricky, and there's walls everywhere."

Q:  What is your favourite food?
A:  "Anything except anchovies. I love most Asian food."

Q: What is your favourite car? A: "When I was at school I got a '57 FE Holden and built it up. In the end it had a turbo 202, a five-speed Datsun gearbox, and an HR disc-brake front-end. It used to sit two-inches off the ground. I'd have to say my favourite car, though, is a 930 turbo Porsche. I'm also into bikes. The first bike I had was a 500 AJS single, then I had Triumphs, and a Yamaha 750. Somehow I've survived!"

-Mike Porter -

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