When it comes to motorsport, Tasmania punches above its weight in terms of driving talent so the Repco Garage has highlighted the top five touring car legends to emerge from the Island state.
There are few things Marcos Ambrose hasn’t achieved in motorsport as a two-time Supercars champion, a winner in NASCAR Cup and when he ventured to Europe prior to these stints he took out the European Formula Ford Championship as he pursued a career in Formula 1.
Moving to the French then transferring to the British Formula 3 Championship in 2000, Ambrose ran out of money and became a Ford star almost immediately in Supercars. Breaking Holden’s championship dominance in 2003 with Stone Brothers Racing backing up the next season.
Leaving Supercars at the end of 2005, Ambrose enjoyed a successful stint climbing the NASCAR ladder and became the first Australian to win at the top level.
Amid legendary Penske Racing’s entry to Supercars after purchasing a percentage of Dick Johnson Racing in 2015. Although this comeback was short Ambrose returned to Tasmania to retire where he ran a few businesses before emerging again as crew chief to close friend Owen Kelly in Trans Am and he expanded his role at Garry Rogers Motorsport to become competition director.
It continues his family’s history in the sport, started by father Ross.
Following in his father’s motor racing footsteps, John Bowe enjoyed an illustrious career in open-wheelers initially through the South Australian-based Elfin Sports Cars before becoming a dual Australian Drivers’ Championship winner in the early-1980s.
Mark Petch gave Bowe his opportunity to partner Robbie Francevic in the Volvo 240 Turbo at Sandown and Bathurst leading to a part-time season with the newly formed factory squad for 1986. A major falling out at Sandown effectively ended the Volvo Dealer Team leading to a co-driver role with Nissan in 1987.
This led to a long stint at Dick Johnson Racing where he won two Bathurst 1000s and an Australian Touring Car Championship in 1995 as it thrust Bowe into stardom.
Leaving DJR in 1999 to join the Western Australian-based CAT Racing team was less than successfully as he shifted to Brad Jones Racing where another fruitful and long-term relationship was enjoyed.
Finishing his career in 2007 at Paul Cruickshank Racing, Bowe continues to race in the Touring Car Masters Series.
David ‘Skippy’ Parsons followed his father into motorsport via a privateer entry at Symmons Plains in 1982 where he impressed leading to a co-driver with Peter Janson at that year’s Bathurst 1000.
Parsons’ credentials were further lifted when he joined the Holden Dealer Team in 1984 where he finished second in a famous 1-2 finish for the squad.
Not really an ATCC, he was a reliable co-driver continuing with the HDT into the Group A era where he was the only teammate to outqualify Brock during this time before joining Larry Perkins for 1986 until a crash in Wellington during the next season led to him being dropped.
Moving back to Brock’s HDT now devoid of factory support, Parsons alongside his legendary team boss and Peter McLeod secured an against all odds victory in the 1000 driving the second rate Commodore.
Staying with Brock when he moved to BMWs then Sierras, Parsons started a long association with Glenn Seton culminating in victory at the Sandown 500 and a heartbreaking result at Bathurst in 1995.
This ended in 1998 when he joined Gibson Motorsport to partner a young Simon Wills and ended his career joining Paul Romano.
In an odd occurrence, he paired with his namesake David ‘Truckie’ Parsons in 1999 to an 11th place finish at the Mountain.
Not only involved as a driver, Garth Wigston was also involved in the administration of the sport as well as the inventor of an ingenious timing system called TasTime.
A winner of many state titles driving a dealer supported Ford Lotus Cortina, Wigston soon struck a friendship with Roadways owner Ian Harrington leading to a tilt at racing touring cars on the mainland.
Retiring after recording fourth in the 1983 Bathurst 1000 partnering Harrington’s son Steve, Wigston turned to stewardship to soon become the chairman on the national panel. During the early era of Supercars, Wigston was the steward working alongside former rival Colin Bond.
A privateer for much of his career in Supercars, Greg Crick made his touring car debut joining Chris Lambden at Sandown and Bathurst in a Holden Commodore, but his early attentions focused on the Australian Sports Sedan Championship driving an Elfin-produced Honda Prelude.
Joining Bob Jones in the privateer Ampol Max 3 Holden Commodore to finish second at the 1993 Sandown 500, Crick completed a part-season with Pinnacle Motorsport placing 10th at Mallala.
After running a second Perkins Engineering entry at two rounds in 1995, a full-season campaign followed with Alcair Racing where Crick emerged as a leading privateer.
Gaining sponsorship from Ericsson and Trust Bank led to another strong privateer campaign for Crick, but a crash at Lakeside during the season led to a few rounds missed.
Later joining young Paul Weel for a couple of seasons where he was fastest in a Bathurst practice session, Crick later joined Stone Brothers Racing for an endurance season partnering Marcos Ambrose, but this ended after one event.
Crick is a very accomplished driver outside of Supercars competition including wins in Targa Tasmania, the Australian GT Championship and Touring Car Masters.