Why the late Jason Richards turned down a chance to race at HRT
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Next December will mark the 10-year anniversary of Jason Richards' death; a promising Kiwi champ who went on to be one of the most universally liked members of the Supercars paddock.
Richards raced in the series for 10 years, making his name as a particularly strong force to be reckoned with at Mount Panorama and as a driver capable of elevating mid-field teams to high positions.
Perhaps most famous was Richards' incredible David versus Goliath drive at the 2003 Sandown 500, where he took on and nearly defeated Mark Skaife and his Holden Racing Team (HRT) Commodore. Ironically, in an alternate universe, Richards could well have driven for HRT.
Former Holden Motorsport manager Simon McNamara recently appeared alongside David Reynolds and Michael Caruso on the Below the Bonnet motorsport podcast, divulging that Richards was offered the chance to secure a drive with HRT.
"We were in the transition of what we were going to do. JR [Jason Richards] was on my radar because in my mind he was a pretty quick driver, he spoke really well, and i'd watched him on his own get serious money for his helmet out of New Zealand. And I'm going 'how good is this bloke at what he does,'" McNamara told the podcast.
"He was the only person, to be quite frank sitting here, that said, when I offered him an opportunity to go to HRT, he didn't want to do it.
"I had a prior chat with him [while] playing golf, and he said no. We'd moved him to the Joneses [Brad Jones Racing] and he'd loved the family environment and the whole thing around him. He didn't want to walk away from that."
When quizzed on who his favourite driver was to deal with over his 22-year stint of working for Holden (10 of those years as Holden Motorsport manager), McNamara didn't hesitate to mention the affable Kiwi.
"The one bloke that stood out above everybody, probably because of the way he was, was JR. I worked with him pretty early, and then we got him into the Joneses from [Tasman Motorsports] and he thrived."
While McNamara didn't narrow down the year of the discussions, Richards raced at Brad Jones Racing in 2009 and 2010; departing the team at the end of the 2010 season because of his cancer issues.