Meet the Best-Kept Secret at DJR Team Penske

September 8, 2020

"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique. 

Dick Johnson is one of Australia’s most iconic and loved motorsports personalities. His team’s incredible 40-year history has been well-documented, including some the legendary stories and personalities that have worked within the Dick Johnson Racing (DJR) team that is now known as DJR Team Penske.

Team Penske Material LogoBut there is a not-so-well-known person who has ridden the highs and lows with Johnson over the years and is the team’s longest-standing employee.

Keith Chesterton, or "KC" as he is affectionately known, is DJR Team Penske’s painter and for more than 32 years he has been part of the Ford team that that is the reigning champion of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

Team Penske KCNow 62, Chesterton started out as a mechanic in Sydney with Colin Bond and the Ford Rally Team. He’d travel to Mt Panorama, Bathurst every year to watch the Bathurst 1000, known in Australia as “The Great Race,” with family and friends.

While Chesterton loved rally racing, he had friends that worked with Johnson’s team at Supercar endurance events, and his desire was to one day to work for the team. That chance came in 1986.

Team Penske Shell Car“A friend of mine, Dennis Brown, used to help in endurance rounds. Back then, the core people for endurance rounds, they were all helpers,” said Chesterton. “I knew (Brown) through rallying, and I told him, ‘when the (Ford) Sierras come online, I’d love to work on those’. I went to the Adelaide Grand Prix in ’86 with Colin Bond, and it was there that Dennis said, ‘Dick wants to talk to you.’ I went and had a chat with him and DJ said, ‘when do you want to come up and work for me in Queensland?’ And that was it.”

Back then, the team was a far cry from the powerhouse it is today clarified Chesterton.

“When I started, there was five of us, and we used to go three-up in the truck – the workshop shut down when the team went away,” KC recalled. “That first year was very hard but in ’88 we started turning things around in ’89 we won our first Bathurst. It still sticks in my memory.”

Johnson won his first Bathurst 1000 in 1981 and he and co-driver John Bowe conquered the Mountain again in 1994. But the DJR team had to wait another 25 years before repeating that feat as drivers Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat won the iconic race last October.

When Roger Penske and Team Penske joined forces with DJR in 2015, it elevated the team’s performance and it became a Supercars championship contender once again. DJR Team Penske won the prestigious team championship in 2017 and McLaughlin has captured the driver’s title in each of the last two seasons and is leading the point standings in 2020.

Chesterton makes no secret of his love of the sport, which has kept him racing, and winning, for so long.

“A lot of people dream about it, but we get to do this,” he said. “I’m 62 now, and I still get a buzz out of these cars, working on them, and all the young guys around. It helps me stay young.”




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