A Chat with 2015 Group A Champion Carey McMahon


A Chat with 2015 Group A Champion Carey McMahon

2015’s Heritage Touring Car series was full of exciting racing, unforgettable duels and good people bringing the history of Group C and Group A Australian touring car racing to life.

The Championship wrapped up in Victoria at November’s Historic Sandown last month, with Carey McMahon and Chris Bowden sitting atop the Group A and C tables respectively.

As we prepare to settle in for a summer break with friends and family and look forward to a fresh and exciting season of historic touring car racing in 2016, we thought we’d have a chat with Carey and Chris, to get their perspective on a season well raced.

Let’s hear from our 2015 Group A Heritage Touring Car Champion – Carey McMahon!

Carey McMahon Heritage Touring Cars Group A Champion

Heritage Touring Cars: Congratulations on your success in Group A this year, and thanks for chatting to us.

Carey McMahon: Thank you!

HTC: Tell us a little about your racing career and your cars in 2015.

CM: I started racing sports sedans in 1972, before moving on to a Group C Escort in 1975. In the mid-eighties I decided to stop racing as we were starting a family, and I was starting a business to support it.

I returned to racing in 2010 when I purchased a Group A 1989 Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R from Rod Markland. In 2012 I was able to win the Group C & A Championship.

I purchased the 1991 Bathurst-winning Nissan GTR from Robert Ingram in April of 2014 and had it restored by Chris Dubois and Gibson motorsport. That work was still under way at the start of this season, so I was aboard the HR31 for my first event.

The GTR restoration was complete by May, and I was able to move to it for the final two race meetings at Muscle Car Masters and Historic Sandown.

These cars are very special pieces of Australian Touring Car Championship history. Owning, restoring and racing both of them has been a great privilege!

Carey McMahon Heritage Touring Cars Group A Champion

HTC: What draws you to Heritage Touring Car Racing?

CM: My own race experience in the 1970s left an indelible memory on me – I had some unfinished business from that period! Heritage Touring Cars racing is an excellent way to return to it.

The original Group C and A series were fabulously entertaining with a wide variation of cars, drivers, preparation and resources brought to competition.

That legacy is celebrated today in the Heritage Touring Cars series – as it was then, so it is now! The series offers the same entertainment, featuring multiple smaller class battles going on within the one race that are truly exciting to watch, as well as to be a part of!

Spectators love it, and really appreciate the openness of the drivers and teams and the ability to talk with them and get up close and personal with the cars in the pits. I’m very pleased to be able to support that.

Carey McMahon Heritage Touring Cars Group A Champion

HTC: What were your goals going in to the season? Did you set out to win the championship?

CM: (Laughing) No, I never even think about winning a race! It really never crosses my mind!

Truthfully, there are many competitive drivers in the class and I do set out to try and get up in the top 5 so that I could have a chance of winning. I didn’t set out to win the Championship and only gave it some thought prior to the last race meeting at Sandown after Terry Lawlor told me that he and I were the only two with a chance of winning the Group A Championship.

Carey McMahon Heritage Touring Cars Group A Champion

HTC: On that note, could you give us a run through of your season?

CM: Each year we start with a full refresh of the car to see what we can improve and to make sure that it’s in great condition and safe and reliable for competition. I also train physically each week to maintain my strength and conditioning and ensure that I am fit to drive competitively at speed.

This year I did focus on improving my speed by improving my braking efficiency. We analysed how I was braking into corners and identified a possible improvement through more effective braking. It made a noticeable difference to my lap times!

Practice makes perfect they say!

Racing the two different cars throughout this year’s season presented its own unique challenges.

The HR31 is a highly refined race car and one I am very comfortable driving.

The new GTR is a car built to dominate the series (as it did in 1991 and 1992), and so I had some excitement and trepidation about driving such a valuable and famous car. But then on my first lap in the car at Winton I knew I was privileged to be driving such a weapon!

Carey McMahon Heritage Touring Cars Group A Champion

The first meeting for the car was at Sydney Motorsport Park in September for Muscle Car Masters. I felt a lot of pressure on doing well first time out and fortunately the car went incredibly well. It won all four races and lowered the lap record for the class three times by a total of 3.1 seconds.

Learning to drive the car at anywhere close to its potential was quite an experience. The car is capable of going much faster than its driver is!

Sadly I was only able to attend three HTC meetings this year, missing the earlier two meetings.

The drivers I was able to interact most with were Terry Lawlor, Tony Alford and Duncan Mackellar. These guys are all competitive and fast drivers, so it is always a challenge to see who will win out between us.

Carey McMahon Heritage Touring Cars Group A Champion

The best overtaking move on me this year was by Duncan Mackellar at Lakeside. He drove fast and close and I was very comfortable dicing with him. Terry Lawlor is always tough, fair and fast, and Tony Alford is in the mix showing great respect for the value of the cars.

It is always fun to race against these guys and next year there will be a few more in the mix. I will be racing again and will be in a new car, so watch this space!

HTC: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Carey, and congratulations on a magnificent season! We’re looking forward to sharing the track with you again in 2016, and can’t wait to hear about the new car!

CM: Organising 40 cars to attend one of these meetings doesn’t happen without the fabulous work of Ed Singleton and his Heritage Touring Cars committee. I’d like to congratulate them on their efforts in 2015 and praise them for their excellent contribution to our sport!

Thanks to Ian Welsh and Seth Reinhardt for the photographs.