AMSCAR: Australia’s “other” Touring Car Series
THE V8 Supercar Championship and its forerunner, the Australian Touring Car Championship, are known around the world for playing host to some of the top touring car drivers ever seen.
The likes of Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Mark Skaife, Jim Richards, Craig Lowndes, Marcos Ambrose and Jamie Whincup are well known for their deeds in the domestic championship.
But in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s there was another touring car series that was penciled in to many of their calendars in between the championship events: the AMSCAR Series.
Not a rival to the popular ATCC, it raced on off-weekends for the high-profile championship and proved popular with local Sydney-based teams.
Check out this recently unearthed gem AMSCAR race from 1979 –when Ford hero Allan Moffat accepted a guest drive of Bob Morris’ second Holden Torana A9X.
Hosted solely at the now defunct Amaroo Park Raceway in Sydney by the Australian Racing Drivers Club (who also ran the famous Bathurst 1000 for nearly four decades), the series was perfectly made for television.
Channel Seven’s motorsport production unit was Sydney-based, the track was a shade under two-kilometers (which made it easy to cover with cameras) and the racing was always top notch.
And because every round was telecast, most of the big teams would arrive to give their sponsors bonus airtime outside of the regular ATCC.
The track regularly had hosted a track championship for small capacity cars but the AMSCAR (Amaroo Saloon Car) Series banner was first applied in 1979.
The series disappeared in 1980, was for under 3.5-litre cars in 1981 and resumed under the AMSCAR banner from 1982 to 1993.
Here’s a classic AMSCAR race from 1982 with Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Allan Grice going head-to-head in a V8-only contest.
Australia led the world with in-car camera technology at Bathurst in 1979 – but Neil Crompton commentated his own start from inside the car in the AMSCAR Series in 1993 here.
The AMSCAR Series was revived for one year only in 1997 by the ARDC for V8 privateers and held at Amaroo and Eastern Creek prior to the closure of Amaroo a year later.
Former Bathurst winner Tony Longhurst was the most successful driver, claiming five AMSCAR crowns in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991.