Supercars, as they are now known, and previously as the V8 Supercars and Australian Touring Car Championship, have had a strong presence in this country for quite some time now. Followers have seen Falcons, Commodores, Skylines, and more, pound the circuits of Australia.
However, there were occasional excursions to places other than Sydney or Perth or tracks in Tasmania. And for the sake of prudency we’ll also include New Zealand as we’re looking at locations such as Europe or Japan.
Travel back in time to when the Group A category was in place; 1982 and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile or FIA has introduced a more production car based category, one designed to appeal more to the privateers thanks to a weight based, cost based, allowable technology based system.
The Australian Manufacturers’ Championship and Australian Touring Cars Championship would work under Group A from 1985 through to 1991 and 1992. Perhaps the best known international exposure for an Australian Group A car was in 1986, with the Holden VK Commodore.
The Holden Dealer team ventured to Europe and participated in the 1986 FIA Touring Car Championship with a two car campaign. The drivers were rivals and friends. Their names were Peter Brock and Allan Moffat. One car would be held for an attempt at the 1986 Spa 24 Hours race.
Already in the hunt for some European glory were Allan Grice and co-driver Graeme Bailey, driving VK Commodores also as running as a privateer entry. Grice in particular would have a solid run with strong showings in Britain at Donington, Monza in Italy, and Hockehem in
Holden’s VK Commodore in Group A trim featured heavily at the 1986 Spa 24 Hours. New Zealander Neal Lowe also raced a VK in this event, and along with co-drivers and fellow Kiwis Kent Baiget and Graeme Bowkett finished the race higher than the Brock/Moffat, and John Harvey entry,which finished in 22nd, four places behind the New Zealanders. A VK Commodore entered under the name of Australian National Motor Racing Team and having Grice, Michel Delcourt and Alex Guyaux from Belgium, finished one position down.
Of more recent vintage was the attempt by the then V8 Supercars to crack the notoriously sheltered American market. 2013 was the year and the location was Austin, Texas. The track was The Circuit of the Americas, the same track that plays host to the Formula 1 round when they visit the States.
Although planned as a mid-term length for returns, that race weekend was the only time the circuit saw the Supercars.
Four races. 100 kilometres for each race. 27 laps of 3.7 kilometres, less than the full available distance. Jamie Whincup will remain in the history books as the sole Austin, USA, champion. And to say he dominated the weekend in his Holden VF Commodore would be an understatement. Of the four races, Whincup would take pole in races 2, 3, and 4, and win races 1, 2, and 4. The only other pole sitter and race winner was Fabian Coulthard, driving a Ford Falcon from the Brad Jones Racing garage.
What other Australian race events and race cars that strutted their stuff outside of Australia and New Zealand do you have memories of?
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