Former Holden Supercars driver reveals factory Ford near-miss
Loyal Holden Supercars star Cameron McConville has revealed that he turned down the plum factory Ford seat that ultimately went to Mark Winterbottom.
McConville was loyal to Holden throughout his 10-season career as a Supercars full-timer, driving for the likes of the Lansvale Racing Team, Garry Rogers Motorsport, Paul Weel Racing and Brad Jones Racing before scaling back to part-time duties after the 2009 season.
Even then he stayed true to the Red Lion, with an endurance seat at the Holden Racing Team between 2010 and 2012.
The second half of his career, however, could have gone a lot differently.
McConville has revealed that he was set to sign with Ford Performance Racing for the 2006 season, as a replacement for Greg Ritter alongside Jason Bright.
In the end he turned down the FPR drive due to pleas from Holden management to stay put, and promises of a factory-level seat at PWR.
"I had a Heads of Agreement for 2006. It’s a precursor to a contract, so it basically says 'you start at this time, this is the sign-on fee, this is your salary.', McConville told the V8 Sleuth podcast.
"I had the big tour when the whole building was there and then we followed it up with another meeting, and then I finally had a Heads of Agreement to go there for a two-year deal.
"[I] turned it down. I think Holden got wind of [the FPR deal]. I had some allies in at Holden Motorsport, they said they didn’t want me to leave. Paul Weel was going to move aside, and I think they were trying to move PWR into a second-tier factory team.
"I met with Kees Weel, met with Holden Motorsport – [former motorsport boss] Simon McNamara and a couple of the team there – and they said ‘we want you to stay and this is what the deal is going to be – it’ll be with Greg Murphy [and] you’ll get to drive with Murph at Bathurst,' which was a fairly big ticket for me to try and win that bloody race at some point.
"I was getting some pressure from FPR and I had to ring them and say ‘look, I really, really appreciate the offer, you’ve got a great team, but something else has come up and I’m going to stay with Holden.
"They said ‘okay, understood’ and wished me luck.
"So I decided to stay loyal to the Holden brand. I had two pretty lean years [at PWR], unfortunately…"
While the PWR gamble didn't work out for McConville, it was a stroke of fortune for Winterbottom, who would spend the next 13 years at FPR and collect a Bathurst 1000 crown and a Supercars title.
"I would never say that I could have had the career that [Winterbottom] had, because that’s disrespectful. I mean, I may have had my two years and underperformed," added McConville.
"But in the right environment, with better equipment and I was up at the pointy end… but maybe my challenges out of the car and thinking about life [after racing] and my kids, that might have still come up.
"Maybe it is a regret, I don’t know. In some respects, yes."
McConville also revealed he used to PWR "s**t sandwich" to help negotiate his deal with BJR, which came as part of the team's switch from Ford to Holden for the 2008 season.
"I used my decision to walk away from a factory Ford drive as leverage," he said.
"I went to Holden and said 'you've delivered me a s**t sandwich here,' and they said they were working on something.
"[Eventually] they said 'you'll hear from the Joneses' – but they were a Ford team at the time.
"Brad came and had a chat to me, I think it was at the Darwin round, saying they were looking at doing a customer relationship with HRT, and would I be interested if they could put it all together."
Greg Murphy and Cameron McConville
Photo by: Chris Von Wieldt
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