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 Calder Park Thunderdome Superspeedway, but over time the series expanded to include the Bob Jane owned 1/2 mile Speedway Super Bowl at the eastern end of Adelaide International Raceway (the only other paved oval circuit in Australia), 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. Three categories of racing car were developed to run on the Australian circuits.
- 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 AUSCARs
Other categories, such as the HQ's, a category based around the Holden HQ Kingswood powered by the 3.3L Holden red motor, were also popular at the Calder Park Thunderdome. 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. These engines developed less power than the larger and more highly developed 358 cubic inch engines used in NASCAR and as a result AUSCAR's were slightly slower than their American counterparts.
Then triple Bathurst 1000 winner and twice Australian Touring Car Champion Jim Richards won the first ever AUSCAR championship in 1987/88 driving an Ford 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 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 son of Calder owner Bob Jane), Max de Jersey, Phil "Splitpin" Brock, and Graham Smith. The top five positions all going to those driving either a VK or VL Commodore.
While Sawyer would remain competitive in the early years of the category, it was Albury panel shop owner and Group E / Group A driver Brad Jones who would dominate the category, winning five consecutive titles during the peak of the series popularity, all in various model Commodore's. Other notable drivers include: Marshall J. Brewer, Terry Wyhoon, Garry Rogers, Russell Ingall, John Faulkner, Jim Richards and his son Steven, 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 again at his testimonial race meeting (held on the Calder Park road circuit) in 1995 driving a Commodore.
Due to the returning popularity of the Australian Touring Car Championship, relaunched as V8 Supercars in 1997, and 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||Brad Jones Racing|
|1990–91||Brad Jones||Holden VN Commodore||Brad Jones Racing|
|1991–92||Brad Jones||Holden VN Commodore||Brad Jones Racing|
|1992–93||Brad Jones||Holden VN Commodore||Brad Jones Racing|
|1993–94||Brad Jones||Holden VP Commodore||Brad Jones Racing|
|1994–95||Marshall J Brewer||Holden VR Commodore||Fastrack Racing|
|1995–96||Terry Wyhoon||Holden VR Commodore|
|1996–97||Matthew White||Holden VR Commodore|
|1997–98||Darren McDonald||Holden VS Commodore|
|1998–99||Leigh Watkins||Ford EF Falcon||Leigh Watkins Racing|