Historic Groups C & A Touring Cars Preparing to Return to Competition
The 2017 Heritage Touring Cars series will see many cars new to the series make their debut amongst a strong field of returning Group C & A historic Australian race cars.
Heritage Touring Cars competitors make an important contribution to Australian motor history by preserving, restoring and racing significant Australian race cars. Several of these projects are well under way and will be unleashed in anger on Australian race tracks in 2017.
Ian Helsdon and David Paterson, a long-time competitor in the Bob Holden Motors Toyota Corolla Sprinter, are at work restoring the ex-Malcolm Rea Group A Corolla Sprinter. Helsdon has history racing a Group C Escort in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and will make his Heritage Touring Cars series debut pedalling the car.
2016 Group C Champion Steve Axisa is working on an ex-David Langman Torana L34 which raced from 1974 to 1979. During that time the car was also raced by Bernie McClure and actually competed against Axisa’s other Torana – an XU-1.
Terry O’Beirne plans to bring Bob Holden’s original Toyota Sprinter out to several rounds in 2017. The car has a massive Group A history file. holds the record for the most Bathurst starts and was raced continuously throughout the period both in Australia and overseas. Terry plans to run several events in 2017.
Set to introduce more Japanese muscle to the series, John Abbot is preparing the ex-Garry Willmington MA70 Turbo Supra for competition. The car is planned to appear at Muscle Car Masters in October, and Abbot will run a second Supra, ex-Williamson, at Bathurst, Sydney and Lakeside.
Joining the significant contingent of Bavarian muscle tackling the series will be Dean How’s JPS 635CSi Group C.
BMW Australia sent Frank Gardner to Germany in 1980 to buy the car, which at the time was running as a European Group 2 touring car. He did – converting it to Group C specification upon its return. Allan Grice drove it in 1981, running it with British sports car driver David Hobbs at Bathurst.
In 1982 Jim Richards took over the wheel for a spell before jumping into a new car. Formula 1 World Champion Denny Hulme happily filled his shoes, joined by Stephen Brook to pilot the car at Bathurst in 1982.
The car was then sold to a privateer in Adelaide, who took it to Malaysia to run for two years before retiring it. It spent 20 years untouched, and Dean How is now preparing it to race again.
Looking further ahead, front-running series regular and pilot of the ex-Tony Longhurst Ford Sierra RS500 Carey McMahon is at work restoring the 1985 Charlie O’Brien BMW 635 CSi for competition.
The car competed in the Australian Touring Car Championship from late 1985 to mid-1986, running at Bathurst in both ’85 and ’86. O’Brien took it to third in the touring car race during the 1985 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, behind Peter Brock and Dick Johnson.
These magic muscle cars and more will make the 2017 Heritage Touring Cars series one to keep a close eye on. Stay tuned to www.heritagetouringcars.com.au for more, and we’ll see you at Phillip Island over the 17th to the 19th of March.
Images kindly provided by the owners.
The Heritage Touring Cars series will return to Australian race tracks over the 17th to 19th of March at the Phillip Island Classic. Be there!
For more information stay tuned to www.heritagetouringcars.com.au.
2017 Heritage Touring Cars Series
Round 1: Phillip Island Classic at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit March 17 – 19
Non-Championship Round: Bathurst Motor Festival at Mount Panorama Circuit April 14 – 16
Round 2: Sydney Classic at Sydney Motorsport Park June 10 – 11
Round 3: Lakeside Classic at Lakeside International Raceway August 12 – 13
Round 4: Sandown 500 at Sandown Raceway September 15 – 17
Round 5: Muscle Car Masters at Sydney Motorsport Park October 28 – 29