Throughout the different eras of Australian Motorsport there have been many personalities that define the times. Brock, Moffat, Johnson, Skaife, Ingall. In today’s Whincup/Winterbottom era, a plethora of control and regulations has all but silenced arguably the most important personalities on the track. The cars.
I grew up in an era where Mark Skaife and his roaring red HRT Holden reigned supreme. My father told me stories about a time where it wasn’t just about the V8s. Apparently some mysterious force from Japan came down and obliterated the competition. As a child I was in love. To me these Skylines were so good that the rules had to be changed to make it fair for the V8s. Aside from the Godzilla R32s the Group A races of the mid-late 80s was packed with 4 wheeled heroes. The Ford Sierra RS500 was piloted by Dick Johnson to a championship double in 88 and 89 before a 3 year onslaught from the Skylines.
But the on track icons from the earlier days aren’t exclusive to imports brought down to shake up the competition. Commodores and Falcons have been the bread and butter of Australian touring car competitions since the early 90s, even though they had been present since the 70s. Regulation changes at the end of 1992 saw the international turbocharged competition from the 80s sent home packing, whilst the home grown V8s were left to have the fun.
It’s all too easy to see, when looking at a list of championship winners from the first Appendix J racers to now, the historic value of the cars has all but disappeared. The stories I tell to the next generation won’t be mirrored when speaking of my experiences with today’s Motorspor. Instead they will be the same stories of the four wheeled heroes from the previous decades. The words, “Skaife nailing The Dipper in his R32” will always cast a better image to me than “The VF Commodore Whincup won 3 Championships in.”