Four numbers are dominating the build-up to the first two-day sprint meeting of the Supercars championship season.
They are 11, 100, 400 and 7000.
Anton de Pasquale has claimed 11 as his new main game racing number, Ford is aiming for its 100th pole position and 400th race win in the touring car championship, and 7000 fans will be allowed into Sandown each day to watch the three sprints.
De Pasquale started the year with 100 on his Shell V-Power Mustang but has made a permanent change to 11, taking custody of the number from Larry Perkins – who used it for much of his career on a string of Holden Commodores – with Dick Johnson to supervise the change between generations.
“When Anton joined the team, I asked him what number he would like to run as Will was going to drive the iconic No. 17,” said Ryan Story, the CEO of Dick Johnson Racing.
“Anton said he’d love to run number 11 because it was such a key part of his success in Europe where he won many races with it. I told him we could only do so with LP’s blessing.
“Number 11 is an iconic number in our sport, and to me it will always be Larry’s number. Despite it not having been used for the past few seasons, I thought it fit and proper for Dick and myself to reach out to his old sparring partner and one-time teammate, and that’s what’s led us to today’s announcement.”
Ford Australia is on standby to celebrate its milestone numbers, assembling eight Mustangs and their drivers on the straight for a commemorate picture.
The line-up included a fresh ’stang for Tim Slade after his giant crash in the season opener at Bathurst last month, while David Reynolds’ car was rolled out in a retro livery to mark the visit of the Supercars circus to Melbourne, the home of his sponsor Penrite.
The 7000-person capacity at Sandown comes as Supercars is looking to progressively build its numbers through the 2021 season, hopefully leading to a full house at the grand final on the Gold Coast in December as Covid restrictions are progressively eased across Australia.
“It’s a bloody good first step to what we had previously. Just getting people back to an event is a good first step. It’s been over 12 months since we last competed here in Victoria,” the chief operating officer of Supercars, Shane Howard, said.
“It’s a progressive approach and each state is different. We’re just happy to be back here, to get fans here, and have a grandstand with good capacity and park-and-view zones.
“Things are improving and improving pretty quickly.”