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Why Jamie Whincup's retirement should mean a new era for the business of Supercars racing

The Chevrolet Camaro will enter Supercars under the Gen3 rules.

Supercars racing stands on the brink of a new era. The reigning champion is gone (to take on the challenge of Indycar racing in the USA); Holden is gone after decades as the foundation of the sport and now, in news that broke today, the most successful driver of his generation (and arguably ever), Jamie Whincup, has announced he will retire at the end of the 2021 season.

But wait, that’s not all. Whincup will become team principal and managing director of Triple Eight Race Engineering, the sport’s dominant team of the last 15 years. He will take over from team founder, Roland Dane, who is stepping back to allow a new generation of leadership.

Dane has sold his majority stake in the team to businessman and longtime motorsport supporter, Tony Quinn, with Jessica Dane (Roland’s daughter) taking a larger holding to continue her role as commercial director alongside Whincup.

It’s worth noting that Roland Dane will retain a role within the team as chairman and help with the transition, but will relinquish day-to-day operations to Whincup.

Which leaves Dane with more free time to enjoy his non-motorsport related hobbies, but potentially denies the sport one of its smartest operators at a time when it needs expertise like his the most.

It’s believed Dane was instrumental in helping Supercars Australia secure permission from General Motors to use the Chevrolet Camaro for the upcoming ‘Gen3’ regulations. Dane has a history with GM that dates back to the 1990s when the original UK version of Triple Eight ran the factory Vauxhall program in the British Touring Car Championship, so he understands the value of what motorsport can bring to a car manufacturer. He also knows the return the sport can provide to a sponsor.

As Supercars looks to embark on a new era with Gen3, who better to help attract new manufacturers to the track, alongside the Camaro and Ford Mustang than Dane? He knows as well as anyone exactly what race teams need to do to get car company executives to open the cheque books, so a future helping to run the sport into the post-COVID world of Gen3 seems like a golden opportunity for the sport.

Supercars is owned by private equity firm Archer Capital, which has attempted to sell the sport in 2017 and rumours have continued it could change hands for the right price. A buy-out by some of the wealthier team owners (which likely would have included Dane) has been rumoured in the past, but so far Archer hasn’t had the right offer.

Officially though, Dane is committed to helping Triple Eight transition to its new leaders and then enjoying his well-earned retirement. 

Asked by CarsGuide if he’d consider taking on an ownership or even leadership role with Supercars, Dane gave a clear answer.

“No,” he said. “I want to take advantage of having more free time, and that would mean less free time.”

While that’s a perfectly understandable position, hopefully Dane can find some spare time in the future to perhaps ‘advise’ or ‘consult’ to Supercars Australia when he is free from the responsibilities of leading its most successful team. He could help usher in not only the Gen3 regulations in 2022, but also help the sport attract new manufacturers that may be interested by what the new regulations offer. He could also help the sport strengthen itself commercially as the pandemic fades and television deal needs renegotiation for 2026 and beyond.

The sport faces many challenges in the coming years and a proven operator like Dane has the knowledge and experience to help bring his successful legacy to the entire championship.