Top 5 Australian Touring Car Drivers

Motorsport in Australia is, it’s fair to say, in a state of flux right now. There are new cars, new championships, and new drivers. It’d also be fair to say that the new crop of drivers would all want to be seen, be remembered, in the same category as those regarded as Australia’s best and legendary touring car heroes. Although the Australian Touring Car Championship effectively lives on in name only, as the award for the winner of the Supercars championship, it’s still an honour to be listed as a winner.

In no particular order, here are the five drivers we reckon will be remembered.

Peter Brock.

Any list of Australian motorsport drivers that doesn’t include Victorian born Peter Geoffrey Brock A.M. isn’t worth considering. Brocky, Peter Perfect, “God”, PB won a record nine Bathurst 1000 races, Sandown nine times, the Australian Touring Car Championship three times, and engendered an aftermarket car company that is synonymous with motorsport.

Brock was known for racing with Holden, but also saw his name on the side of BMW cars, Ford cars, Volvo, Porsche, and Peugeot. He even lent his name to a brief flirtation with Russian car company, Lada.

PB made his Bathurst racing debut in 1969, muscling Holden’s HT 350 Monaro GTS around Mount Panorama alongside Des West, with the 24 year old partnering West to a third position that year, an impressive debut. 

Brock raced in a number of categories including Formula 2, the Australian Super Touring Championship, and Le Mans. His record of 37 wins from 212 starts in the ATCC and V8 Supercars would stand until 2007. He also scored 57 ATCC pole positions and won from pole 22 times.

PB would have turned 74 on February 26, 2019. 

Jamie Whincup

36 year old Whincup has the dubious distinction of somehow being the most polarising driver in Supercars. Irrespective of how he’s perceived, there is no doubt that he has talent, talent that has given him a record seven (V8) Supercars crowns, four Bathurst 1000 wins, and a Bathurst 12 Hour hat in 2017.

Whincup has raced in Australia’s two main brands in the Supercars, being Holden and Ford. In 2016 he became just the second driver, alongside long term team mate Craig Lowndes, to have won 100 Supercars and ATCC races. Throw in 73 pole positions for good measure.

What’s impressive about Whincup’s record is simple: he didn’t start in V8 Supercars until 2002.

Craig Lowndes

Like pizza and garlic bread, you can’t have Whincup without Lowndes, Craig Lowndes. He’s retired from full time racing and leaves behind a fantastic CV. 42 pole positions, 3 championships, over 100 race wins and almost nose to nose as his former team mate in that respect. There are over 250 event starts in those numbers too.

With a background in small open wheeler racing and including a win in the Australian Formula Ford Championship, Lowndes started his V8 Supercars career alongside Brad Jones in the 1994 Sandown 500 and clocked up his first ATCC in 1996.

Mark Skaife

There’s a birthday coming up for our number four driver. Gosford born Mark Stephen Skaife was born on April 3, 1967, and cements himself in Australian Touring Car Championship history with 90 race wins. Factor in 41 pole positions, 220 event starts and 479 races for 87 podiums, international exposure, and clinically oriented driving style and it’s clear that Skaife is in the upper echelons.

1990 was the year Skaife started as a full time driver and 1991 saw three ATCC wins under his tyres. It was also the year that he, Jim Richards, and “Godzilla” worked together to win the Bathurst 1000 and inspire many to boo at the podium presentation. Skaife would finish his full time career as a driver with five championships to his name.

Dick Johnson

Our fifth grid position goes to Dick Johnson. DJ may have finished with a few less pole positions than others (28), a few less race wins (30), and a few less event starts (202), but the burly, genial, Queenslander did finish with five ATCC crowns, equal to Skaife and 1960s legend, Leo Geoghegan.

Much like Brock, the Johnson name is synonymous with one brand, yet Johnson started his career with the red lion against his name. FJ, EH, and Torana, including one previously raced by P.G. Brock. Johnson moved to Ford in 1977 and became a household name in 1980 thanks to a football sized piece of rock at Mount Panorama.

2001 and Johnson was inducted into the Supercars Hall of Fame. With 3 Bathurst wins to his name as well, along with co-running the DJR-Penske team, Richard Johnson gives us our top five ATCC drivers. Say happy birthday to Dick on April 26.

Who are your top five ATCC drivers? It’s a question sure to raise debate so we’d love to get your thoughts via our blog and social media pages. 

 

 

 

 

A Brief History of Cheating in Motorsports

Human nature is one of the most diverse things we see on planet earth. Sadly, not all of human nature is benign, good, warm, welcoming. One of the negatives we exhibit is called cheating. Be it at school, on our partner, at work, it’s an undesirable trait.

But in motorsport? Yes, it happens. All too often. And it happens worldwide. It happens in rallying. It happens in Formula 1. It happens in IndyCar. It happened here in Australia.

America’s NASCAR was full of innovative people. At one time they had specified a maximum size for the fuel tank. A “clever” interpretation of the rules has Smokey Yunick fit a fuel hose that was eleven feet long and two inches thick. As a result, his car’s overall fuel capacity was increased. Ynick also sidestepped the rules by having an oversized tank fitted but with an inflated basketball inside. This allowed the tank to be filled to more than the regulated amount once the ball was deflated.

Tim Flock decided on a different way to improve the fuel economy of his NASCAR. His steel roll cage wasn’t steel. It looked like steel, but close inspection had a wooden structure smartly painted to resemble steel.

Australia’s royal motorsport name was involved in a somewhat cheeky cheat in 1981. Fabled F1 designer Gordon Murray built a car for the Brabham team that had adjustable ride height. When cars are scrutineered there’s a set ride height they have to adhere to. Murray built in a system that would lower the car under that ride height but would raise it back to the required amount when stopped. Murray’s sense of humour was brought into play by having a box with leads that would attach to the car, for no reason other than to visually distract onlookers, placed at random locations on the car when stopped.

Another entry from NASCAR with Ken Schrader finding his tyre wear exceeding the ability of the car to deal with it. Although leading a race, the second place car was closing rapidly. A quick thinking Schrader discharged his fire suppressant system and the second car’s driver, thinking Schrader’s car engine was about to explode, backed off. The canny Schrader timed this well enough for his lead to get him over the line for a win, with his car in perfect working order.

Japanese goliath Toyota dominated the world rally scene with its awesome and aggressive looking all wheel drive Celica. Complete with huge rear wing, quad headlight front, and legal turbocharger…wait, did I say legal turbocharger? 1995 and the car is dominating the rally world. The WRC had stated a maximum horsepower output of 300. Toyota had abided by the rules that stated a restrictor plate must be fitted inside the turbo.

What they also interpreted was that the regulations said nothing about the restrictor plate having to stay in one spot. Some brilliant engineering had the plate being moved by springs that allowed extra power to be generated, with an estimated fifty extra horsepower. The design of the turbo was such that a thorough pull-down of it was required to see the plate and even then this appeared almost as it should be.

Australia’s great race, the Bathurst 1000, closes out this quick look at motorsport cheating. The 1987 race was won by the stove hot Ford Sierras. Factory supported they were quick, at times almost undriveable according to Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe, but a little bit of physics came in to play for the win. Larger tyres cover more distance for little extra effort and the first two cars, both from the same team, were found to have enlarged wheel arches at the front, allowing a bigger rolling diameter tyre.

Subsequent investigation and appeals against the team had them disqualified, handing the win to the third placed team. That team was from HDT and the car was driven by David Parsons, Peter McLeod, and one Peter James Brock. The win, under less than ideal circumstances, gave the great PB his ninth and ultimately final ATCC win at The Mountain.

Do you know any ingenious tales of people skirting the rules in motorsports? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article.  

Bathurst vs Bathurst: A Tale of Two Events with John Bowe

25. November 2014 12:56 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Aussie motor racing legend and Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe is certainly well versed in two special Australian motor races, The Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst 12 Hour.

Bowe has spent 30 years venturing to Mount Panorama, completing more laps around the circuit than most and winning ‘The Great Race’ twice and the Bathurst 12 Hour on three occasions.

John recalls his first time racing at the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama in 1985, which was a Volvo 240T from New Zealand he drove with Robbie Francevic.  

“My first event was a culture shock. It was only my second race in Touring Cars so the whole event and the track itself were overwhelming. It was the beginning of a learning process of both racing in the top Australian tier and driving the mountain itself.”

 “The Bathurst 1000 is steeped in Australian tradition and has been a cultural event since its inception decades ago. It has featured our Aussie hero cars and many hero drivers on display in front of the masses in the crowds and on TV for a long time.”

The Bathurst 12 hour was originally created for series production cars to showcase their abilities in racing to the general public who were able to purchase something nearly identical from the showroom floor, which includes the GT spec cars that are available to buy in race format.   

The event ran for a few years in the early 1990’s however was discontinued until 2007 when it was revived. It was in 2011 that the event introduced GT cars, adding a more professional level of competition and opening up the event to international teams that had GT spec machinery.  

“Being a GT race now, the event has gone to another level. The event is much more visible on an international stage and builds higher credibility each year.”

“The Bathurst 12 hour is similar in many ways to the older days of the Bathurst 1000. It has a wide variety of marques competing and large speed differences between some of the cars, which certainly creates an interesting and very different dynamic to the modern Bathurst 1000.”

  “These days the Bathurst 1000 is just a long sprint event and is very tactical, with cars now finishing the race only seconds apart, whereas in the earlier years of the event, it was minutes, so the racing is incredibly close, no doubt about it. This year proved that.” 

The Bathurst 1000 is still the centrepiece of the motor sport calendar in Australia but that doesn’t mean both events can’t co-exist nicely as two separate style events.

“The Bathurst 1000 is a flamboyant event, with more pomp and ceremony attached to it, similar to NASCAR. The crowds are huge every year.”

With the Bathurst 12 Hour gaining momentum, a stable naming rights sponsor and a healthy field with increasing numbers of international teams heading across the world for the event, some believe the B12H is a threat to the Bathurst 1000. However Bowe doesn’t see it that way.

 “I don’t think the 12 Hour is a threat to the 1000 as I don’t think the events cross pollinate at all. The status of the Bathurst 12 Hour will continue to grow though and I’m sure in next few years it will become one of the major race events on the world motorsport calendar.”

In terms of driving the two events, both are physically and mentally challenging and take an immense amount of concentration over a long period. The Bathurst 1000 consists of the main driver, with a co-driver allocated to share driving duties. The B12H regulations allow up to 4 drivers per car, with a mix of professional and amateur drives being the requirement.

“We are attracting huge names now in the Bathurst 12 hour. This year, I teamed up with ex Formula One driver Mika Salo as part of the Maranello Motorsport team and there is many high level drivers from around the world now taking part in the event”.  

“I haven’t talked to a single international driver who has raced at Bathurst for the first time and not been in awe at what an amazing track it is.”

Controversy erupted between the two events recently, with a date clash between the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour and the V8 Supercar season launch/test day, ruling out a number of V8 Supercar drivers who were planning to compete.

 “It’s wrong that it clashed. I understand why, but all of the relevant parties, and there are a few, should have all come together and had more concern for the interest of Australian motorsport in general. I hope in 2016 we won’t see a repeat of the clash.”

Irrespective of whether it is the Bathurst 12 Hour or the Bathurst 1000, Mount Panorama is a  special place, steeped in history with countless tales of sheer heartbreak, mixed with moments of elation with success.

The future of both events remain bright and having two fantastic events at Mount Panorama is a win for all motorsport enthusiasts not only in Australia, but around the world.

 

 

Rare Spares Launch New Television Commercials

Rare Spares have launched two new television commercials which will be aired on 7Mate throughout the remainder of the year, so keep an eye out!

The commercials are designed to relate to car enthusiasts and feature old, rusty vehicles being restored back to new from tail to bonnet, with a voice over communicating Rare Spares key messages around their new slogan ‘more than just a part in your project’.

Officially endorsed by Holden and Ford, Rare Spares have two partner programs, ‘Holden Restoration Parts’ and ‘Ford Restoration Parts’. These logos feature prominently in the advertisements, which use a classic Holden and Ford as restoration projects.

The first features an old Holden Monaro being restored to new – Click below To View

http://rarespares.net.au/news/tvcholden.aspx

The second features an old XA Ford Coupe being restored to its former glory – Click below to View 

http://rarespares.net.au/news/tvcford.aspx

 

RARE SPARES….. More than just a part in you project.

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Entries close 3pm on July 23rd 2013.