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When touring cars debuted on the Gold Coast

With the controversial lead up to the first Gold Coast event now three years old and solidified as a regular event, which led to the touring cars making the trip for the first time.

Three years before the term V8 Supercars entered the vernacular, a strong field of Group 3A touring cars raced on the Gold Coast for the first time leading to the start of a fruitful relationship between the two, which remains to this day.

Occurring in the midst of a Mark Skaife domination of the Australian Touring Car Championship after scoring the opening three round victories at Amaroo Park, Sandown and Symmons Plains, the Gold Coast provided a new challenge. The Winfield-backed Gibson Motorsport was continuing its golden form in just its second season as a Holden team following a forced change from Nissan after the 1992 season.

However, John Bowe went into the history books as the first polesitter in a touring car on the Gold Coast, but only by 0.05s ahead of Skaife. Both were a long way ahead of the chasing pack led by Peter Jackson Racing’s Alan Jones.

A strong field of privateers led by Bob Jones in the Ampol Max Commodore, the Lansvale Smash Repairs Holden of Steve Reed and Kevin Waldock’s Komatsu Ford Falcon completed a very competitive entry for a non-championship event

It was an intense start to the race as Bowe held off Skaife and Jones, but a limping Ian Palmer caught the Winfield Racing driver out resulting in retirement.

The battle for third between Dick Johnson, Jim Richards and Tomas Mezera was close, but stayed this way to the flag as Bowe dominated the 22-lap encounter from Jones.

Race 2 was set to be exciting as Skaife, Neil Crompton and Wayne Gardner were all starting at the back due to their problems in the opener.

Unlike Race 1, Bowe lost the start as Jones led at his adopted home as Richards moved to third from Johnson and Mezera.

However, the battle was halted when Waldock’s pristine Komatsu Falcon found the concrete at the start-finish location.

Skaife had moved up to sixth by the time the safety car entered the circuit and was pressuring Peter Brock to enter the top five, but the race was turned on its head.

Jones leading comfortably made a mistake at the back chicane when he hit the inside wall and hit the tyres on the inside as the suspension on his Peter Jackson Falcon.

This left the two Dick Johnson Racing Falcons and Gibson Motorsport Commodores to battle for the first four positions, but despite intense pressure from Richards it was Bowe victorious as Johnson was third ahead of the recovering Skaife.

A disappointed Jones, who aided in getting the touring cars on the Gold Coast, was left to grab a lift from Bowe.

The touring cars didn’t return the next year, but 1996 marked a run of 14 events on the Gold Coast before it was interrupted by the global pandemic in 2020.

It makes a return to the calendar this weekend.