Australian Stock Car Auto Racing
AUSCAR (Australian Stock Car Auto Racing) was an auto racing sanctioning body owned by Bob Jane, which ran American-style Superspeedway racing in Australia. The initial AUSCAR venue was the 1.801 km (1.119 mi), high-banked (24°) Calder Park Thunderdome Superspeedway in Melbourne, but over time the series expanded to include the Bob Jane owned 1/2 mile (800 metre) Speedway Super Bowl at the eastern end of Adelaide International Raceway which first saw AUSCAR racing in 1990 (the Super Bowl was only other paved oval circuit in Australia with only 7° banking in the corners making it essentially a traditional flat track), the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, and eventually several Australian road racing circuits including Calder Park's road course and the Oran Park Raceway in Sydney where racing was held under lights on the short version of the circuit. Three categories of racing car were developed to run on the Australian circuits. In the early 1990's, Jane and television station Channel 7 announced plans to turn the old Granville Showground trotting track which circled the Parramatta Speedway in Sydney into a paved, banked 1/2 mile track, but sadly nothing ever came to fruition.
- NASCAR: imported and locally developed versions of the American race cars
- AUSCAR: down spec-ed cars, closer to production specification, The category comprised the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon
- Sportsman: lower specification again, cheaper to buy or build and older cars, and some former AUSCAR's. Like AUSCAR, the category comprised the Commodore and Falcon.
Other categories, such as the HQ's, a relatively cheap category based around the Holden HQ Kingswood powered by the 3.3L Holden red motor, were also popular at the Calder Park Thunderdome (as the HQ's were Australian made cars, like the AUSCAR's they raced clockwise on the ovals). Another category was based on the American dirt track category known as Legends (similar in appearance, but unrelated to Aussie Racing Cars), since disappeared from circuit racing. Open-wheel cars such as Formula Vee also raced on occasion at the Thunderdome as a support to the NASCAR / AUSCAR races.
AUSCAR was also the name used for the second tier racing category that raced alongside the Australian NASCAR stock car racing series, starting in 1986 and continuing until 2001. The cars were not pure space frame chassis like NASCAR, but were built on Australian Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon road car chassis. As a result, AUSCARs are right-hand-drive, and race clockwise at ovals, compared to the left-hand-drive anticlockwise NASCAR vehicles. AUSCAR's were also restricted to running 5.0 litre Holden and Ford V8 engines, though initially the Ford XF Falcons used the 5.8L 351 Cleveland V8 engines (despite the road going XFs not carrying the V8), but subsequent Falcons (from the EA model) would run the 5.0L V8.
The 5.0L engines developed around 400 bhp (298 kW; 406 PS) compared to the 700 bhp (522 kW; 710 PS) of the larger and more highly developed, 358 cubic inch (6.0L) engines used in NASCAR, and as a result AUSCAR's were slower than their American counterparts. Also, like the NASCAR engines, the V8s used in AUSCAR were carbureted rather than having fuel injection like the road going V8s used by Holden and Ford. AUSCARs also used a Goodyear Eagle control tyre with tread that was more like a road tyre than a traditional racing slick. As a result of using smaller engines and the control tyre, AUSCARs were generally around 15 mph (24 km/h), or around four seconds per lap, slower than the NASCARs around the Thunderdome.
Then triple Bathurst 1000 winner and twice Australian Touring Car Champion Jim Richards won the first ever AUSCAR championship in 1987/88 driving an XF Falcon. However, in a shock to the male dominated motor racing establishment, the first ever AUSCAR race at the Thunderdome, the aptly named AUSCAR 200, was won by 18-year-old female driver Terri Sawyer driving a Holden VK Commodore. Sawyer had qualified her Commodore on the front row of the grid and ran at or near the front all day to win from Kim Jane (the nephew of Calder owner Bob Jane), Max de Jersey, Phil Brock and Graham Smith. The top five positions all going to those driving either a VK or VL Commodore.
While Sawyer would remain very competitive in the early years of the category, the early days were dominated by Jim Richards. Though it was Albury panel shop owner and Group E / Group A driver Brad Jones who would come to dominate the category, winning five consecutive titles during the peak of the series popularity, all in various model Commodores. Other notable drivers include: Greg East, Steve Harrington, Mark Seaton, Marshall J. Brewer, Gregg Hansford, Terry Wyhoon, Garry Rogers, Russell Ingall, John Faulkner, Steven Richards (the son of Jim), Tony Kavich, Adam Pay, Nathan Pretty and his sister Nicole, Jason Whylie, Eddie Abelnecia and Leigh Watkins (who was the only driver other than Jim Richards to win the championship driving a Falcon). Even Australian touring car legend Peter Brock briefly tried AUSCAR in 1988 driving an XF Falcon (after his 1987 split with Holden) and returned for his testimonial race meeting (held on the Calder Park road circuit) in 1995 driving a VR Commodore.
Due to the returning popularity of the Australian Touring Car Championship, relaunched as V8 Supercars in 1997 as well as financial difficulties, AUSCAR was shut down and the drivers dispersed into other national racing series.
|1987-88||Jim Richards||Ford XF Falcon||Stillwell Ford|
|1988–89||Tony Kavich||Holden VL Commodore||Tony Kavich Racing|
|1989–90||Brad Jones||Holden VL Commodore||CooperTools Racing|
|1990–91||Brad Jones||Holden VN Commodore||CooperTools Racing|
|1991–92||Brad Jones||Holden VN Commodore||CooperTools Racing|
|1992–93||Brad Jones||Holden VN Commodore||CooperTools Racing|
|1993–94||Brad Jones||Holden VP Commodore||CooperTools Racing|
|1994–95||Marshall J Brewer||Holden VR Commodore||Fastrack Racing|
|1995–96||Terry Wyhoon||Holden VR Commodore||BP Car Care|
|1996–97||Matthew White||Holden VR Commodore|
|1997–98||Darren McDonald||Holden VS Commodore|
|1998–99||Leigh Watkins||Ford EF Falcon||Leigh Watkins Racing|