A Story of Crooks, Cars, Sex and Hard Effort: The Story Daily Planet Racing Team
This Article is to celebrate a new year, a new decade and I wish all of you the very best on your journeys through 2020.
Motorsport has never been a cheap past time, with Formula 1 the $100 Million giant empire that it is, motorsport has come a very long way. But, the whole thing can be summed up in the 1971 film “Le Mans” starring Steve Mcqueen. “…yeah, but it’s money.’’ Which couldn’t be more truthful. Some bizarre sponsors include Durex and ABBA on the side of 70’s F1 cars. Viagra, and SPAM for NASCAR’s, and something called “Tokyo Ueno Clinic” whose money propelled the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hour race winning car to victory. (see me to find out about that sponsor) None however, are quite as out there, compared to “The Daily Planet Commodore.”
The brains behind this, shall we say "unique" car was a Victorian named John Trimbole. The name Trimbole would ring a bell or two for those over 50, as another famous Australian had the same name, Robert Trimbole. For those of you who don’t know Robert “Aussie Bob” Trimbole, he was an Australian mafia boss. Who ran illegal drugs, marijuana farms and bordellos. He was best known for being involved in the “sudden disappearance” of a local politician who strongly opposed to his actions. If you’ve seen The Godfather then you’d know the mafia is all about family, and Aussie Bob was the Don Corleone of this mob. And his nephew, (or his son, people are bit hazing on that) John was the heir to his empire. Bob made his nephew (or son) an offer he can’t refuse. Inherit “The Daily Planet” brothel in Elsterwick, South Melbourne.
After Bob’s death in 1987, John continued to run this “Sex House” until he woke up one day and decided he wanted to go motor racing. He was earning a suitable income from all the horny teens and dirty old men that came through his door, so he would have no trouble at all concerning the funding for his team. He started off small with a part time gig in HQ Holden Racing, until he eventually got bored with small part time racing. He wanted to help himself to a slice of the action, compete with the big boys at Bathurst of course. After leasing a VL Commodore from Larry Perkins, he then bought another VL Commodore from Garry Rogers to race himself. With the Perkins Commodore becoming #41 for drivers Andrew Harris and Garry Cooke. And the Rogers Commodore was to be raced by John and Rohan Onslow, but in Friday Practice the car had a minor problem. That being, it caught fire and couldn’t be repaired in time. But, onwards and upwards right? Andrew Harris qualified the remaining car into 24th, out of the 47 cars on the grid. Channel 7 commentator Doug Mulray got plenty of mileage from the brothel-sponsored Daily Planet Commodore. It was a “cock-up” when it caught fire, but when it crashed, Mulray said on air, “The girls in Melbourne will be working hard tonight”. Yep, with only 20 laps to go, a thunderstorm hit Mount Panorama and most of the cars were caught out, that being they were stuck on slick tyres in the sudden heavy downpour. Mike Conway lost control of his Toyota Corolla, hit the concrete wall at Griffins Bend and barrel rolled over the heads of some marshals waiting on the other side. But the worst was to come, on the other side of the circuit on Conrod Straight was a multi car pile-up involving, (Yes you guessed it!) the Daily Planet car with Harris at the wheel. But it wasn’t over yet, Harris’ car was then sideswiped by race leader Jim Richards in the converted 3WD Nissan Skyline GT-R twin turbo, after he clouted the wall somewhere else on the circuit. It wasn’t until a third car joined the party that the race was finally Red Flagged. In the event of a “Red Flag” in motorsport, the race result is determined by the order in which the cars last crossed the line. That mean’t that despite Richards’ car being only of use to panel beaters, he was still declared the winner. And the Daily Planet car was officially classified in tenth, not bad for a first timer at Bathurst. Even though the car was now destroyed, having taken full force of two different car accidents.
For 1993, the team went more diverse. Trimbole competed in the Australian Touring Car Championship, this time in another ex-Perkins VL Commodore. As well as competing in the Australian Production Car Championship in no other than a Mitsubishi Magna. He didn’t score points in either series that year. However, at Sandown that year there was a change of tide for the team. In the 6—Hour Production Car Race he and his Magna finished a very credible 6th. Then at the Sandown 500 for V8 cars, his VL Commodore (piloted by himself and Rohan Cooke) finished an amazing 4th out of 24 cars. Although they did finish six laps down on the race winning Ford EB Falcon Geoff Brabham and David Parsons. At Bathurst however, John and Andrew Harris could only muster 14th, though still a credible effort by a privateer team. At the Bathurst 12 Hour race however, his little Magna was able to clock up 242 laps, enough to put him into 4th in his class and 7th out right.
In 1994 John ditched the VL for the brand new VP Commodore, competing in half the ATCC rounds that year. He finished 17th at Amaroo Park, 17th at his home race at Sandown in Melbourne, 14th at Philip Island, 18th at Winton, 19th at Eastern Creek, 16th at Mallala and 15th at the final round at Oran Park. For Bathurst that year he had a new co-driver in the form of Garry Waldon, as Harris was busy being the chief proprietor of the brothel back in Melbourne. The two of them circulated all day, before capping off the year with a 9th at Bathurst.
1995 was a changing of the guard for the team, not only did the team change its number to #47 but he sold Commodore for a Ford EB Falcon. There’s a very good reason for that though, being a privateer means you have very limited funds. So you go with what ever you can get, even if that does involve changing manufacturer’s. But, John had now saved up enough cash to do what hardly any privateer team could do, and that was to race at every round in the championship. John scored his first points at Symmons Plains in Tasmania, despite it being only 1 point. Only thing was he never go up in the points again, but that wasn’t so bad. In 1995 with Privateers becoming more and more uncompetitive, the Privateers were given their own personal trophy to race for, it helped them achieve TV time for their sponsors, and gave them even more prize money if they won. Mr. Trimbole used this to promote his local business, and believe me this wasn’t what you’d call normal advertising. Ya know, with all the illegal prostitutes and mafia supplying the team with enough cash to run the whole season. But then again the commentators did say The Daily Planet car was one of the best presented cars in the whole field. However, the funds to race at Bathurst had been spent on running the whole season.
1996 was even bigger than the previous year for the team, for starters the team had a different sponsor in the form of “Chefs On The Run” a large Australian catering company. And Bottle Magic, no I’ve never heard of them either. The ex—DJR EB Falcon ran strongly in the hands of Trimbole and yet another different team mate, reigning Privateer Cup Winner David Attard. Attard only drove the car at the Bathurst Sprint Round early in the year. Upon arrival at Bathurst it became clear they weren’t in tune with the times. Of the 36 cars there were one of only 3 EB Falcon’s in the whole field, they were using a car that was 2 years over it’s use by date. On race day at Bathurst it was raining absolute Cats, Dogs and everything in between onto the Mount. Panorama tarmac. So it was only a matter of time before the first casualty of the race brought out the safety car. When the freight train eventually caught up to the safety car most of them slowed down, except for Attard at the wheel of his EB Falcon, and he took took out the #62 Wayne Russell Nokia VP Commodore. Even though they were behind the safety car, the prang was hard enough to take out the left front part of the car. It was immediately written off.
So, after completely rebranding the team to “Bottle Magic Racing” Trimbole went all out this year. He had a new car VS Commodore, a good team mate with former “Holden Racing Team” driver and 1988 Bathurst 1000 winner Tomas Mezera. After achieving moderate success through the 1997 series with points finishes at Lakeside, Queensland for Trimbole and Surfurs Paradise for Mezera the team looked set for the Bathurst 1000 at the end of the year. Mezera started in the car and got off to a good start from 13th on the grid. But, entering the chase at 280kph, the brakes on the left side blew out and he not only took a pretty big tumble, but completely destroyed the #47 VS Commodore. Trimbole said on the TV, “I’ve probably had worse but I can’t think of it, but yeah mate it hasn’t been particularly brilliant but anyway there always is next year I suppose.” Mezera was totally okay, despite rolling a car over, he was more worried about not making it to a golf tournament the next weekend!
Trimbole took a year off from racing V8’s in 1998, choosing to instead to race production cars instead driving a Mitsubishi Evo. The team’s last year of competition was racing at the 1999 Queensland 500 and FAI 1000. Not only did Trimbole have a different team mate/co-driver every single year he raced, (this year it was Kevin Heffernan) but he made a habit out of destroying a few race cars. The ex—Gibson Motorsport VS Commodore that drove at Bathurst in 1999 was finally killed in massive rear end shunt with John Trimbole at the wheel.
It was this accident, that forced the team to close in 2000.
Trimbole changed his name to John Trimble, in the fourth coming years and continued to run The Daily Planet Brothel for many years afterwards. Andrew Harris served as the CEO from 2002 to 2006. And earned himself a Net Worth of $2 Million in 2002! In 2005, the company changed its name to “Planet Platinum Limited”, and the company and was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2003, before it was taken off in 2007. The brothel itself swept the Australian Adult Industry Awards from 2004 to 2011. Winning the best Bordello Award and Best Brothel Reception and Staff. Oh yeah I bet.