Slade and the new Blanchard Racing Team were within touching distance of a fairytale result at Bathurst, the two-time race winner running fourth in the closing stages.
However the dream debut for the single-car squad turned into a nightmare with five laps to go when Slade made heavy contact with the wall on the run to Forrest’s Elbow.
The crunching impact destroyed the BRT Mustang and left Slade to cut a despondent figure on the sidelines.
Speaking once back in the paddock, Slade revealed he had a race-long battle with transmission issues.
A clutch problem was to blame for the slow start that dropped him from second on the grid to fifth on the first lap, while a gear selection hiccup sparked his frightening race-ending shunt.
“I went to downshift in the normal spot and sort of went into neutral,” he said.
“I went to grab it again and it grabbed two gears and once. It went to first instead of second and pressure locked the rears and sent me into the fence.
“I’m shattered for everyone in the team.”
The crash is likely to put Slade out of tomorrow’s action.
“It was a pretty massive hit; I would doubt that we can fix it,” he added. “We’ll see what happens overnight, but it doesn’t look very positive.”
A top four result would have capped off a surprisingly rapid start for Slade and BRT, after showing front-running pace since practice kicked off yesterday.
That’s despite it being a brand new team, which only moved into its own workshop late last year, and Slade having spent 2020 on the sidelines after losing his Brad Jones Racing drive at the end of 2019.
Meanwhile, running a tyre-width outside the racing line was all it took to leave Anton De Pasquale’s Dick Johnson Racing debut in tatters.
DJR’s new recruit was running third in the early stages of the race, shadowing Cam Waters and eventual race winner Shane van Gisbergen.
But on Lap 7 a small mistake on the way into The Cutting left him in the wall and out of the race.
“I was pushing hard and I made a mistake,” said De Pasquale.
“I got that tyre-width wide on entry, I had a little moment, and got in where no one else goes all weekend. You can’t bring it back.
“It wasn’t a big hit, but you pay big price for it. It’s no good, it’s a bad way to start the year.”