Sign Up

Our Privacy Policy identifies how we handle personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act. Read it prior to submitting your information.

By clicking “Register” you agree to our Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.

Early regulation wrangles

Just as the Repco Supercars Championship prepares for the new Gen3 regulations for 2023, 30 years ago Australian touring car racing was going through a very similar transition.

Back in 1992, Nissan’s Skyline GT-R has decimated the Australian Touring Car Championship field albeit having had various compensations applied in regards to weight and horsepower limitations as the Group A era was coming to an end.

Australia was one of the last markets to drop Group A as Britain had already begun its new 2.0-litre era in 1990 in class format before an outright change the next season encouraging brands such as Vauxhall, Toyota, BMW, Ford, Nissan and even Mitsubishi.

In Germany a 2.5-litre formula had attracted Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Opel, while other options included super production, but Australia decided to go its own way.

The Group A Commodore was used as the basis for the new 5.0-litre regulations based around the two leading brands in the country at the time, Ford and Holden.

Legendary engineer Wally Storey was in the thick of these changes as Holden’s representative.

“CAMS came out with some regulations and we didn’t argue with them,” Storey recalled.

“CAMS was saying it was happy to go along with this, but we didn’t want hot rods, it wanted the category based on standard cars.”

However rival Neal Lowe at Dick Johnson Racing had in fact not followed this request and the team’s Ford Falcon featured a radical rollcage design, tubbed wheel wells, plus the engine had been moved back.

This had ramifications for Storey.

“Neal Lowe built a car at Dick’s and he built it like a sports sedan,” said Storey.

“He had an engine plate at each end of the block and tied it to the roll cage, and CAMS rejected it, but he’d been in Tom (Walkinshaw)’s ear telling him CAMS would accept it.

“Tom and I had a huge blue about it as through my contacts at CAMS, I knew it was going to get rejected.

“I had been told it had been flung and I actually had a copy of the defect notice with all the names chopped off on the top and bottom faxed to me. So, I knew but to hold faith with the people that had told me I could only say I was very sure. Tom rang me and said, ‘they’ll put this thing on the table it looks like a race car and yours looks like a road car’.

“I told him the brief that CAMS had gave us, it has to be based on a standard car and this is what we got. We put it forward and CAMS has accepted it.

“He was so sure because Neal Lowe had given him such a sales job, he was so sure he knew what he was on about. I’d gone as far as I could.”

These ramifications were about to occur as Walkinshaw and one of his engineers came to Australia to re-design a Holden Racing Team Commodore in the style of DJR’s Lowe Falcon.

“Tom got together with a TWR guy by the name of Kenny Page to redesign the cage, put a horizontal watts linkage and various other pieces,” Storey explained.

“They had this other bodyshell half built, we had one bare bodyshell that hadn’t been tuned, one that had half been tuned and one that had been chopped up.

“Finally, CAMS came out with a defect notice because Tom had redesigned one of our Commodores, moving the shock points as well as this, that and the other.

“Graham Hoinville came out and inspected it, and rejected it.

“Sandown was two weeks away and we didn’t have a car!

“Tom sent two blokes from England to come help prepare a new car.”

Despite it being built, DJR’s ‘sport sedan’ Falcon never raced and was used a show car before being raced in Western Australia, while the Holden Racing Team enjoyed a rather successful Sandown 500 as it finished third with Tomas Mezera and Brad Jones in one of its new specification Commodores.

Of course, Falcons did race in 1993 and in fact won the championship with Glenn Seton.