Touring Car Masters – the biggest category on the Mountain
The Touring Car Masters presented by Autobarn is overflowing with Bathurst-related history, icons, experience and achievements ahead of round five at Mount Panorama (NSW) on 7-10 October.
In no particular order, here is a quick slice of Touring Car Masters trivia from the top of the Mountain.
Bigger and biggest:
The Touring Car Masters has a 35-strong field set to front up for the 2010 Bathurst 1000 support races, five cars more than last year, making it the biggest category at Mt Panorama for this year’s event.
Phase IV first:
Making history, this year will see a replica of the famed 1973 Phase IV Falcon XA GT race at Bathurst for the first time ever. Another casualty of the 1972 Supercar Scare (like the V8 Charger which finally made its Bathurst debut last year), the Phase IV has taken 37 years to make its way to the Mountain and its first appearance this year will give fans opportunity to stop and wonder what might have been. Series newcomer, Leanne Tander will race the unmissable hot pink and purple Ford Falcon Phase IV Falcon XA GT in its Bathurst debut.
Bathurst 1000 racers:
Seven drivers in the Touring Car Masters field have made 86 attempts at the prestigious Bathurst 1000 race – Jim Richards (35), John Bowe (22), Andrew Miedecke (16), Bernie Stack (8), Leanne Tander (2), Brett Youlden (2) and Tony Hunter (1) – with a combined total of nine victories shared between Richards and Bowe (Richards – 7, Bowe – 2).
The most Bathursts:
Jim Richards holds the record for the most Bathurst 1000 starts with 35 consecutive race starts from 1974 to 2006 spanning Australian Touring Cars, Super Tourers and V8 Supercars.
Adding in two Bathurst 12 Hour races, one Bathurst 24 Hour race, ATCC rounds, and Bathurst 1000 support races from 2007-2009, Richards’ overall Bathurst race meeting tally stands at 43 events.
Going the distance:
Clearly Jim Richards just can’t get enough driving. The 63-year-old who currently drives his race transporter to every round will again cover the 2000km round trip to Bathurst. He has driven himself to every single one of his 43 Bathurst events, raced at 43 events and then driven home from 43 events.
He has also stayed at same motel for over 30 years, outlasting half a dozen management changes.
A quick race is a good race…
Jim Richards and Mark Skaife still hold the record for the fastest Bathurst 1000 race time for their 1991 victory in which they completed 161 laps in 6h 19m 14.80s.
70% chance for a 1000 win:
Hugely experienced at Bathurst, Touring Car Masters newcomer, Mark King has previously been a class winner and was runner up to John Bowe in this year’s 12 Hour.
King’s 1971 Holden HQ SS will have a brand new Waddington-built engine for this round to hopefully boost his performance in the Touring Car Masters category, but with 70% of the V8 Supercar field running his King Springs suspension components, the Gold Coast driver is very likely to be a key part of this year’s Bathurst 1000 win.
Playing two up:
Touring Car Masters’ series leader, John Bowe will be looking for his second Bathurst win for the year following his 12hr victory in a BMW 335i alongside Garry Holt and Paul Morris in February.
The forgotten wins and the return of #18:
While John Bowe is renowned for his two Bathurst 1000 wins in 1989 & ‘94, the Tasmanian racing veteran scored two more Australian Touring Car Championship wins at Mt Panorama that are virtually forgotten.
Back when the Bathurst 1000 was a non-championship event, Mt Panorama hosted two championship sprint rounds (1995-96), of which Bowe won both in the famed #18 Ford.
While the #18 Ford became a huge part of Bowe’s racing identity, this year will be only the fourth time he has ever raced the #18 Ford at Bathurst. While employed with Dick Johnson Racing, Bowe raced with Dick Johnson in the #17 car for all but one Bathurst 1000 when he partnered with Cameron McConville for the 1998 event.
Boasting a 100% win rate for sprint rounds in car 18 at Bathurst, Bowe is hoping his #18 Ford Mustang will continue the tradition in this year’s Touring Car Masters round.
Third time is a charm:
2010 will be only the third time the Touring Car Masters series has run at Bathurst. Established in 2007, the popular V8 Supercar support series made its Bathurst 1000 debut that same year. The series has become a popular prelude to the Great Race, warming up fans with seven-lap dash on Sunday morning as part of the Channel 7 television broadcast.
Husband v Wife:
Last year the Mountain saw married couple Leanne and Garth Tander line up for the Bathurst 1000; this year the Touring Car Masters will have its own marital showdown Greg Keene and Amanda Sparks and, unlike the Tanders, the TCM couple are likely to be racing wheel to wheel.
Usually alternating round by round the driving duties of their Porsche 911 RS, the couple had their first and only showdown at Darwin earlier this year when Keene took the opportunity to race Ross Almond’s similarly powered Porsche 911 RS.
Boasting a 100% success rate, Sparks beat her husband and now Keene will be eager to save face at Mt Panorama. Fortunately for him, he has more Bathurst experience on his side.
Courtesy of new Hoosier tyres for 2009, Jim Richards and his Shannons Falcon Sprint shaved almost five seconds off the lap record previously held by 2007 series champion, Steve Mason. Richards was one of seven drivers to eclipse the previous lap record. The current Touring Car Masters Bathurst race lap record is 2:24.2489 set by Richards in race two, last year. While the lap record is likely to fall again in 2010, it is not expected to be by such a great margin.
Unsuccessful duo – Bowe and Richards
Despite their many Bathurst successes, the powerhouse combination of Bowe and Richards enjoyed a fruitless alliance at the Mountain. Teaming up in the #600 Cat Racing Ford AU Falcon, the duo looked formidable sitting in third on the grid for the start of the 1999 FAI 1000, but were spectators from lap 82. In the 2000 event, the pair suffered another DNF, this time on lap 147 of 161.
Best result not best remembered:
Somewhat of an endurance specialist, former V8 Supercar driver Andrew Miedecke contested the Great Race 16 times, racing every year from 1986 to 2002 with the exception of the ’98.
Despite achieving his best result of third place with Mark Larkham in the Stone Brothers Ford Falcon EL in 1997, Miedecke is best remembered for his performance in the OXO Sierra in which he led much of the first stage of the 1987 race; a cracking drive that laid the foundation of his Touring Car racing reputation.
Group 2 contender Cameron Tilley has not one, but two 1970 Valiant Pacers in the Tilleys Automotive racing stable – one in Historic Touring Car trim and the other in Touring Car Masters spec. Tilley has already raced one Pacer at Bathurst this year – the Historic Pacer in the Festival of Sporting Cars at Easter. In that event, the incredible six-cylinder Pacer outpaced the Mustangs, Camaros, Falcons, Monaros and the like, and took victory in the final race.
Now taking the covers off his Touring Car Masters Pacer this time around, Tilley may need divine intervention to repeat his Easter result but, as last year’s Group 2 winner at the Bathurst round, he will again be one to watch.
40th Birthday Celebrations:
Just two cars celebrate their 40th anniversaries this year. Bob Middleton switched from one 40 year old to another, passing his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS to Andrew Miedecke and slipping into a newer 1970 model Chevrolet Camaro SS. Last year’s Group 2 Bathurst winner, Cameron Tilley’s Valiant Pacer has also reached the 40 year milestone.
The Touring Car Masters is proudly presented by Autobarn, and supported by Biante Model Cars, Shannons Insurance, Rare Spares and official suppliers Hoosier Tires and Australian Sports Marketing.