History is written in retrospect, and achievements are often apparent only with the benefit of hindsight. July 1st, 1919 passed with little known significance at the time, but in retrospect, the day marks the very beginnings of Castrol Australia. The next 100 years were proof of that. The first of July - 100 years ago - sparked a partnership with Australians across all industries and from all walks of life that still continues on today. Australia with its sweltering heat, arid landscapes, treacherous mountain ranges and unforgiving oceans, offers its fair share of challenges. Whether going from A to B, working or wandering, 4km to 4,000kms, it's these punishing conditions that have proven the need for Castrol’s continued innovation. It’s this need that’s seen Castrol support Australian industry and given motorists, truckers, aviators, farmers, mariners and miners the leading-edge products and services they need to improve performance and prosper for 100 years. Martin Place, Sydney was the birthplace for Castrol’s innovation when ex-digger Cyril Westcott broke ground on the first of the now two Castrol manufacturing facilities in the country. A short letter from Charles Wakefield – the pioneering founder of Castrol in the UK - set in motion the dawning of Castrol Down Under which, in its history has underwritten some of Australia’s leading technological research and industrial development.
The name behind the names
Through a century of transformation, the Castrol brand has supported the efforts and achievements of the pioneers who set the benchmark on land, air, sea and space. In 1919, the Smith Brothers from South Australia competed in a race like no other the world had seen. Ross and Keith set out to fly from Great Britain to Australia in 30 days. The brothers, joined by a two-man flight crew left Hounslow, England on the 12th of November and arrived in Darwin on the 10th of December – all the while with Castrol on board in the engines. Castrol’s journey hand-in-hand with those who push the boundaries has united it with visionaries like Amy Johnson, who in 1930, became the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia. An aviation pioneer through sponsorship, Charles Wakefield, provided the funds to purchase the De Havilland Gypsy Moth for Johnson’s historic journey whilst Castrol oils dutifully went to work on the 18,000km flight.
Reaching for the stars
From the early days of aviation to space exploration Castrol has been beside those who have chased dreams that most would classify as outside of this world. Partnering with NASA, Castrol provided the Braycote lubricant during the space race, and since then has travelled with the program to realms once thought impossible. When NASA first started launching into space in the 60’s, Castrol provided all the elbow grease. Lubricating the arms and leg joint bearings of astronaut suits has seen Castrol rub shoulders with legends like Buzz Aldrin, John Young and Neil Armstrong. Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity and Curiosity, have been operating with the help of Castrol lubricants for 15 years.
Masters of the Mountain
In Australian motorsport there’s no higher achievement than crossing the line first after 1000 gruelling, soul crushing kilometres at Mount Panorama. Those that accomplish the feat are elevated to legendary status, names spoken in reverence, the tales of their victories told by campfires for decades. There isn’t a name more synonymous to The Mountain than Peter Brock, and Castrol was with him as he took the chequered flag for eight of his Bathurst 1000 wins. That included 1979, where he and co-driver Jim Richards finished six-laps ahead of the rest of the field, an achievement that may never be replicated. Touring-car cult hero, Larry Perkins, himself a pioneering engineer in motorsport, not only wore Castrol colours on track but played a part in the development of racing lubricants for the Australian landscape. Perkins cementing of his legendary status came at The Mountain where he and Russell Ingall took a last-to-first victory in 1995. It was a green, red and white domination that led Perkins to three victories and two podiums at Bathurst from 1993 to 1998. Perkins’ influence continues to current day racing, with his old team becoming Castrol-oiled Kelly Racing in the current Supercars Championship.
Since the inception of The Great Race, Castrol has become the most winning oil on the mountain, totalling 20 victories with Castrol products. In Australia, the Castrol name first appeared at the 1928 Australian Grand Prix in Philip Island, and since then has partnered with Supercar Hall of Fame inductees and legends including; Colin Bond, Jim Richards, Bob Morris, John Harvey, Allan Grice, John Goss, Bob Jane, Peter Brock, Tony Longhurst, Jim Richards, Greg Murphy and today, with Rick Kelly.
Liquid Engineering for the Australian way of life
Almost every aspect of our modern lifestyle needs some form of oil, lubricant, grease or coolant. Whatever the industry or application it's likely that Castrol supplies it. Even back in 1919 when Castrol Australia had just three staff the company already had an extensive range - offering seven grades of Castrol Motor Oil and Castrol X super series oil. Castrol's commitment to innovation has led to numerous product firsts - from the world's first synthetic oils which enabled a high performance motoring and aviation revolution, through to the legendary Castrol GTX, and its ‘Oils ain’t Oils’ ad campaign. This development has continued with SLX, TXT, Formula R and Castrol EDGE - our most advanced synthetic engine oil using Fluid TITANIUM. And all have been tested using the teams and drivers in leading racing championships across Australia. Australia's own tailor-made Castrol GP50 performance oil, developed from the local motorsport testing program - was used by drag racing legend, Victor Bray in his ’57 Chevy to take out the Top Doorslammer world record with a pass of 6.25 seconds, going 370kph.
The ethos of Castrol’s long history has been to keep innovating and keep moving in industry, on the race track, and on the road. Castrol’s commitment to pushing boundaries is evident through its development of the world's first synthetic oils – oils now chosen by the likes of Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volkswagen and Volvo - which enabled a high-performance motoring and aviation revolution, and more recently the launch of Australia’s first “plant-derived” engine oil – MAGNATEC BIO-SYNTHETIC. Equally this commitment is the reason why Castrol RX Super has been Australia’s leading diesel engine oil for over 40 years, and more recently why Castrol VECTON has become the preferred choice of iconic brands like Kenworth Australia. Inter-woven in the fabric of Australian ingenuity and the grunt of Australian manufacturing, Castrol has been a partner in incredible achievements over the last 100 years. In retrospect, Castrol’s history across commercial development, motorsport and industry speaks for itself - Oils still ain’t oils.
Improving the Aussie way of life decade by decade
Take a look back through the decades and see how we've helped shape Australia's future.