Craig Lowndes gifted gold throwback warpaint for career finale
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You will not miss Craig Lowndes and his Autobarn Holden ZB Commodore this weekend, and the final round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in Newcastle.
Of course, it's Lowndes' last round as a full-time driver in the series in a career that's spanned 24 years. And, as a token of thanks, Roland Dane and the rest of 'CL's' Triple Eight squad surprised him earlier today with a new-look livery.
The warpaint isn't just bright, with its chrome gold, yellow, and green colouring. It's also a throwback to an earlier time in the 44-year-old's career, from when he first joined the team in 2005.
With the backing of Betta Electrical, Lowndes wore the livery in blue and yellow hues for two years, before the team secured a partnership with Vodafone. But, they were two significant years nonetheless.
2005 ended a minor race-winning drought for Lowndes, and things well and truly ramped up in 2006. He was a championship contender throughout the season — coming within a whisker of winning the title before coming to blows in a controversial manner with Rick Kelly at the Phillip Island series finale.
Losing the championship that year was devastating, and overshadowed the Bathurst 1000 victory he shared with Jamie Whincup earlier in the year. That win was particularly poignant, given it happened a few weeks after Lowndes' mentor Peter Brock passed away at a Targa event.
In many ways the livery represents the foundation of Triple Eight's emergence as a Supercars powerhouse, as well as the return to form for Lowndes. He and Whincup went on to famously win Bathurst three times in a row, although a fourth championship crown proved illusive for Lowndes.
And what adds to the occasion is that Lowndes didn't even know the livery was coming until he saw it in the flesh this morning.
"I didn't know this was coming," he laughed. "I know there's been some stories and some theories and conversations. Lara, my wife, she's been disappearing and taking phone calls all over the place.
"When I got given the suit, even just half-an-hour ago, I thought that was something special. But then to see the car getting pushed down, I thought 'there's something going on'.
"It's fantastic. There's a lot of history within the design of the car, I'm really thankful that the team has been able to do it.
"2006 really was an amazing year, and then for me to be part of the journey with Triple Eight and to have the success as a combination has been really fantastic.
"Roland, every now and then, he gets emotional. Seeing his emotion revealing the car shows the passion he has for the sport, and I'm very thankful for the career I've had with the team."