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The long forgotten Sydney series

Created by the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club, the AMSCAR Series became a popular part of the New South Wales motorsport calendar during the 1970s and 1980s due in part other live Channel 7 coverage in addition to good prize money.

As promoters at Annangrove’s Amaroo Park, the ARDC led by Ivan Stibbard was innovative in the way it advertised and set up its race meetings. The AMSCAR Series history can be traced back to the Sun-7 Chesterfield Series beginning in 1971 and ending in 1981 for touring cars under 3.0-litres.

For 1979, the Rothmans AMSCAR Series was held in addition to the Sun-7 Chesterfield races featuring a reported $60,000 of prize money. One of the events enjoyed a major coup when Allan Moffat drive a second Ron Hodgson  Holden Torana A9X.

The Sydney motorsport scene was thriving as many competitive privateers moved from class to outright models leading to organisers abolishing the capacity limit for 1982. Although the likes of the Holden Dealer Team, Dick Johnson’s Ford team, Moffat’s Mazda RX-7s and Kevin Bartlett’s Chevrolet Camaro were not consistent entries, Nissan’s factory squad alongside Frank Gardner’s JPS BMW concern ensured competition was always high.

Privateers the likes of Terry Shiel, Steve Masterton, Garry Willmington, Brian Callaghan, Barry Jones, Terry Finnegan and Ron Dickson all received large exposure across its running during the latter seasons of Group C.

The fight between Allan Grice and Masterton is particularly memorable.

Often combining with Australian Touring Car Championship rounds, the AMSCAR Series continued into the Group A era as fields began to dwindle heading into the 1990s.

Prior to and during the 1980s, the coverage of the Australian Touring Car Championship was poor and this improved by the end of the 1990s courtesy of Channel 7’s coverage plus support came from Shell increasing prize money.

Also, Sydney’s motorsport scene began to decline as touring car teams elected to set-up base in Queensland or Victoria leading to a hiatus at the end of the 1993 and a return lasting just one season in 1997 split between the two ARDC circuits – Amaroo Park and Eastern Creek. This was run purely for privateers and with Amaroo Park closed before the end of the year, it proved the last.

Tony Longhurst emerged as the most successful AMSCAR Series winner by securing four titles.