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The debut of touring cars at Eastern Creek

Sydney Motorsport Park has gone through many changes since the first sod was turned in 1989 including a name change from Eastern Creek in 2012 and touring cars have been a constant despite first hosting an Australian Touring Car Championship round in 1992.

Many non-championship events have been held at the Eastern Creek-based facility including the Winfield Triple Challenge featuring drags, bikes and touring cars (maybe an idea for a future Repco Garage story), but the focus for this article is the 1990 Nissan Sydney 500.

The Nissan Sydney 500 was the debut of touring cars at the recently completed facility hosting the final round of the Australian Endurance Championship and Australian Manufacturers’ Championship.

Winding back the clock to the start of Eastern Creek’s journey, approval to develop land for the circuit was given in 1989 as poor weather and debates over property ownership raged.

Although there were challenging times during its conception, a test race was held for Superbikes in July 1990 before it was officially opened by then-New South Wales Minister for Sport Bob Rowland-Smith prior to the Nissan Sydney 500.

Most of the leading touring car teams entered led by factory Nissan squad Gibson Motorsport with just one GT-R for Jim Richards and Mark Skaife after the latter wrote off a new chassis at the Australian Grand prix in Adelaide. Neil Crompton was in line to fill the seat due to Skaife’s injuries, but this didn’t occur.

The leading Sierra teams included Dick Johnson Racing, Mobil 1 Racing, Benson & Hedges Racing featuring Gary and David Brabham paired together, Playscape Racing and Peter Jackson Racing spearheaded by team boss Glenn Seton alongside veteran Colin Bond.

Although the Holden Racing Team failed to enter, the Commodore VL SS Group A SV was plentiful on the grid as Larry Perkins led the charge alongside some of the General’s loyal privateers including Bob Pearson’s Pro-Duct Motorsport, Lansvale Racing Team, Bob Forbes Racing, Garry Rogers, Terry Finnigan and John Lusty.

Apart from Nissan, Ford and Holden, Garry Willmington made an appearance in his Toyota Supra, while two older Skyline HR31 GTS-Rs were entered for Chris Lambden in his familiar Beaurepaires Racing example as the Grant family drove a Sizzler-sponsored entry.

Richards scored pole alongside Perkins, with Sierras filling out the next five spots led by Tony Longhurst’s Benson & Hedges example in a 125-lap event.

Commentary was provided by Formula 1 caller Murray Walker as the action can be viewed below.

As for the results, Perkins and Tomas Mezera took the win for Holden ahead of Seton/Bond, with Brock recovering to third alongside Andrew Bagnall.

It proved a troubled race for the Nissan team as boss Fred Gibson missed due to being in hospital. First, a wheel departed entering pit lane before an overheating problem dropped the GT-R out.

Johnson and John Bowe’s Sierra was chasing Perkins in the closing stages, but on the penultimate lap the Tasmanian spun as an engine failure forced the challenge to be halted in a trail of flames.

It took more than a year for the new venue to host an ATCC round as keep an eye on the Repco Garage for more Eastern Creek or Sydney Motorsport Park recalls.