Brad Tilley set for TCM Bathurst comeback in iconic Falcon
ONE of the most popular car and driver combinations in Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters history is coming back to the track.
Brad Tilley and his famous, bright green Ford Falcon XY GTHO will return to the series for the first time since 2018, when he tackles the final round of the 2021 series at this year’s Bathurst 1000.
It will also see him race against his son Jamie, who has been a standout performer this season aboard his Tilley Racing Ford Mustang.
Brad’s iconic Falcon was a ‘TCM original’ and has competed since the series’ inaugural season in 2007.
The car won TCMs first ever race, at the 2007 Adelaide 500, and has since claimed a further 12 races in its notable career.
The Brad Tilley / GTHO combination has proved especially impressive at Mount Panorama: Tilley winning three Bathurst races along with the 2012 TCM round on the Mountain.
As well as serving as an opportunity to scratch the racing itch, Tilley said his Bathurst comeback was a chance to share the track with his son.
“I get a lot out of racing with Jamie, to compete as father and son is a big thing. We live together, worth together and go racing together so it’s pretty special,” he said.
“It’s the best experience of my life. I’ve raced a long time, in a lot of different categories and a lot of different stuff but to look across on the grid and see him there, it’s a buzz.
“And then I was just looking at the car sitting there not doing anything – I was keen to do something! It last raced at Newcastle so I wanted to get it out there.. and it’s always gone pretty well at Bathurst.
“It’s still in it’s old specification and miles off where some of the cars are today, but we’ll see how it goes!”
Tilley said his enjoyment of ‘commitment’ circuits helped explain some of what make he and his Falcon such an effective Bathurst combination.
“In it’s day the Falcon was a pretty ‘well powered’ car compared to its rivals, so that helped,” Tilley admitted.
“But a lot of it is attitude; I love the place, I love the high speed, the commitment and I thrive on what could be considered the ‘more dangerous’ tracks.
“I loved it when we do Newcastle, I loved Canberra. Something that is a hell of a challenge I love.”
Ever the proud parent, Brad said watching Jamie’s progress this year has been enjoyable.
The third-generation Tilley racer has been a standout performer in the championship, including qualifying fourth outright at the most recent round at Sydney Motorsport Park back in April.
He then went on to finish third in the opening race before battling Ryan Hansford for the lead in race two.
“To see him up there racing with a guy like Ryan, not a lot of people can do that,” Tilley said.
“He’s doing really well and has learned so much. We do so much racing with our customers – in non-Covid times we’re racing almost every weekend with Group S cars, Historic Touring Cars and more, so he’s always learning by driving them, helping set them up.
“That helps in TCM. He knows what he wants from the car. That experience has helped.
“Coupled with his other racing experience in Sprint Cars, and the fact he’s been coming to the track since he was young has given him so much experience.
“Jamie is a very smooth driver and keeps the tyres on the car, which is important in TCM.”
Despite some time away from the series, Tilley said he was still excited about coming to the circuit.
“We keep our cars together at home, and opening the garage door and seeing two TCM cars there, side-by-side, is a big deal for me.”
The Tilley clan has secured support from Bed Rug, who provide tray liners for commercial vehicles, Gulf Oil Australia and Burrell’s Sand and Soil for the Bathurst event.
The final round of the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters Series will see the series on track four times across the Bathurst weekend, between November 30 and December 3.