MELBOURNE, Australia (January 13th, 2022) – Nissan’s legendary Patrol celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2021. That’s seven decades of exploring some of the world’s most hard-to-reach places with comfort, capability and style.
And to celebrate this momentous occasion, we are meeting Patrol owners from around Australia who have done incredible things with their vehicles.
We call them Patrol Legends, which is particularly fitting this time around, because off-road racing icon Les Siviour has been so successful behind the wheel of his GQ Series Nissan Patrol he’s known in Australian racing circles as “Legend Les”.
He might now be ranked among the most successful off-road drivers in Australian history, but incredibly the Griffith, NSW-based rice farmer’s racing career began completely by accident.
Attending his first race as a spectator, the organisers invited fans to lap the off-road circuit the day ahead of the competition. So Les and his mate climbed into his wife’s car and set off for an exhibition lap.
The only problem? Despite having never seen the off-road course before, and the fact that he was driving a standard Patrol with no racing modifications, the lead-footed farmer was clocking times that would have put him alongside the pro drivers on race day.
“I started racing around 1982,” Les says. “I went to a race with my mate, and you’re allowed to do a lap of the track on the first day just to have a look.
“So I did it in (my wife) Jan’s shopping car, which was a short wheelbase Nissan Patrol, and we did it just as quick as the race cars did.
“Everyone said ‘you should race this thing’. So the next day we put some numbers on it, ripped the backseat out, and we went out and won our class.”
While that was the genesis of Legend Les, it certainly wasn’t the entire story, with the affable Aussie bloke embarking on a decades-long racing career that would see him win an incredible 17 Australian Championships in total.
And while the tracks might have changed every year, his vehicle of choice never did.
“We’ve raced Patrols for 20 years and we’ve won 17 Australian Championships in them. You can put these things up against any other 4WD, and they won’t match it,” he says.
“They’re built like a bloody tank. If I can’t break them, nobody will.”
And he means it. Off-road racing is among the wildest forms of motorsport on the planet, with circuits that are at least 15km long, and that are more often than not narrow, twisting, tree-lined tracks filled with corrugations, ruts, jumps and river crossings.
The stress on the car is unbelievable. But was Les stressed? Not for a moment.
The racing icon hung up his driving gloves in the early 2000s, only to be coaxed out of retirement years later for one final race, and this time with one very special navigator sitting alongside him — his daughter Katie.
But he still has his legendary Patrol, stored safely in a shed on his property. And every so often, when the mood takes him, you’ll find Les tearing up an off-road circuit on a private property a few kilometres from his home.
Pushing a Patrol beyond the limits of mere mortals is in his blood, and he’s not going to stop anytime soon.