Rick Kelly will carry the flag for Team Buick in the inaugural Chinese round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Shanghai on June 10-12.
The two-time Bathurst champion’s #15 Commodore VZ will be sponsored by Buick Motor Sport for the historic event and carry a special livery incorporating signage representing the General Motors Buick brand on sale in China.
Still run by his regular HSV Dealer Team squad under team manager Rob Crawford, the entry is part of GM’s commitment to maximising the potential of its involvement in the ‘fly-away’ race and its relevance to the Chinese market.
“Buick will be the sponsor of Rick’s car for the Chinese race and having them involved is definitely a major benefit for the expansion of the V8 Supercar category internationally,” said Holden’s Director of Performance and Racing, Ray Borrett.
“The link for Holden comes with GM introducing the Buick Royaum in China based on Holden’s renowned Statesman and Caprice luxury cars. These Buicks will also feature as the official vehicle for the event in Shanghai.
“It also gives a chance for GM to build its brand awareness through a new medium in the region.”
Kelly took pole position for the opening round this season in Adelaide and is excited about the prospect of taking Australia’s number one motorsport category to a new overseas audience.
“To be racing at such a fantastic facility as the new Shanghai circuit is a great thing for our category,” said Kelly.
“We have the chance to showcase another of the brands in the General Motors garage and Buick has some strong history in motorsport so I’d like to think we could write a new chapter in China.
“We’ve become used to the trip across to New Zealand but China is a new frontier. I don’t know what sort of weather we’ll face and how harsh it will be and we will have to learn about the circuit as well and tune our cars without data to work off from previous years as we do with other tracks. I’m not sure my Mandarin will be up to scratch either!”
Buick first began in motorsport in the early 1900s, ironically enough with a young Louis Chevrolet, which of course is another brand name now under the GM banner.
The brand has achieved success in NASCAR racing, winning the Winston Cup with Darrell Waltrip in 1981/82 and Bobby Allison in 1983. In those three years they won a total of 53 Winston Cup races.
A turbo-charged V8 engine took Buick to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first appearing in 1984 and running until 1994 when the program was sold to wealthy businessman John Menard. Its best finish was a third in 1992 by Al Unser Snr.
Buick has also achieved success on the dragstrip, Kenny Bernstein driving a series of Buick-bodied Funny Cars to NHRA championships in 1987/88.