Touring Car thunder returns to Historic Sandown
A huge entry of around 400 touring, sports and racing cars is now virtually assured for the 19th annual Historic Sandown to be held in Melbourne from 5-7 November this year.
Celebrating 50 years of Australian Touring Car Championship racing, the meeting has already attracted more than 350 competitors well ahead of the entry closing date of 25 October and final entries are expected to approach last year’s record 420 participants.
A full grid of Group N Touring Cars, similar to the cars that raced in the early Australian Touring Car Championship races in the 1960s and 1970s, will return the thunder to Sandown, while a large field is also expected for the Group C and Group A touring cars that raced in the 1970s and 1980s.
Touring cars were considered poor cousins to open- wheeler racing cars in Australia until 1960, when the first national title race for Appendix J Touring Cars was staged in 1960 at the now-defunct Gnoo Blas circuit in Orange. Sydney journalist David McKay, driving a Jaguar MkI 3.4 litre saloon, won the inaugural one-race Championship.
Sandown Raceway opened as a motor racing venue in 1962 and memorable touring car battles amongst Allan Moffat, Bob Jane, Norm Beechey and Bob Jane were staged at the circuit from the mid-1960s, with the Australian Touring Car Championship becoming a multi-round series in 1969.
As well as contesting a number of the 40 events on the two-day Historic Sandown program, many famous touring cars from past eras will be at the meeting amongst nearly 200 special vehicles on display.
Other events at the meeting have attracted capacity or near-capacity grids of Historic Sports Cars, Open Wheeler racing cars (including v8-engined Formula 5000s), while full grids are expected for the two regularity (average speed) events.
The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany is also supporting this year’s Historic Sandown, sending out four special cars including the Porsche 935 Coupe that clinched the 1976 World Sports Car Manufacturers’ Championship and the sole road-going version of the 1998 Le Mans winning Porsche 911 GT1 sports car.
As at previous Historic Sandown meetings, entry to the newly re-vamped Sandown Paddock area is free to all spectators, who are encouraged to inspect the competing cars at close range and chat to their drivers.