The storied Group C & A touring cars of the Heritage Touring Cars series will be out in force at June’s Sydney Classic, with a healthy field set to contest the penultimate round of their 2021 series at the event.
The Heritage Touring Cars series is comprised of classic Australian racing cars that competed around the country during the Group C (‘73 to ‘84) and Group A (‘85 to ‘92) eras. The cars are the real deal, driven by legends of Australian motor sport like Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Allan Moffat and Jim Richards to glory in the Australian Touring Car Championship and Australian Endurance Championship. And the drivers are too, with many involved in the sport in the period, and one or two still driving the cars they drove back then.
Image thanks to Terry Lawlor
Amongst the competitors heading to the Sydney Classic is Terry Lawlor, who’ll be driving a 1980 Group C Ford XD Falcon that was first raced by Bob Morris and Bill O’Brien. They ran under the same Channel 7 Breville Racing livery you’ll see it in at the Sydney Classic. In that same year it became the first car to have an in-car camera with driver commentary for Channel 7.
The team qualified 6th for the 1980 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst, where they had an agreement with Allan Moffat that should his car fail, he would get a ride in this car. Moffat qualified his Falcon XD 9th, but the car would only complete three laps of the great race. He joined Morris and O’Brien in their car, but sadly a blown engine saw them retire before the finish line.
Darryl Leslight has also confirmed his entry for the weekend, and will run an ex-Colin Bond Masterton Homes Ford Capri Mk. II. Imported from the United Kingdom and built to Group C specs by Peter Hopwood and Peter Watson, the car debuted in the ATCC in 1978. In 1980 it was driven by Colin Bond to seven class wins and third overall in the drivers’ championship.
Don Dimitriadis is another Ford pilot set for the Sydney Classic. He’ll drive an XC Falcon that was owned and raced in period by 1974 Bathurst winner John Goss, with four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo also enjoying a stint behind the wheel. The car will appear at the meeting in its 1979 Cobra livery.
Image thanks to Peter Lucas
Peter Lucas’ Eurocars Mazda RX7 was driven to tremendous success in period by privateer Terry Shiel. Shiel won the AMSCAR championship in 1983, however his funding would eventually run thin so he hung up the keys to the RX7 and went on to drive for the likes of Dick Johnson Racing and the Peter Jackson Nissan team, winning the 1987 Sandown 500 with George Fury.
Steve Axisa will give Holden fans a Group C car to cheer on, driving a Torana XU-1. The car ran in the blue CIG livery in period under Neville Bridges, and was the last XU-1 to score points in the ATCC. Gavin Adamson will do the same for Isuzu, driving a PF60 Gemini.
Moving to the younger Group A cars, we start with the Holden Racing Team Commodore VL Walkinshaw of Norm Mogg. The car was built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing in England, where it ran in the blue and yellow Herbie Clips livery. In 1989 it was flown to Australia to run at Bathurst, where Win Percy and Neil Crompton drove it to 7th in Holden Racing Team colours.
The VL went on to race in Indonesia with Tommy Suharto, before returning to Australia in 1990, receiving further development by Perkins Engineering and earning a few more Bathurst starts.
Jamie McDonald will drive an ex-Bob Pearson Pro-Duct VN Commodore built by Perkins Engineering. Recently restored, it’ll run in its spectacular spider web livery over the weekend. McDonald will be joined by Commodore pilots Adrian Allisey, in an ex-Leeson/Willmington Walkinshaw VL, and Michael Logiudice in the lucky 13 VK Commodore.
Looking at some of the international marques, David Towe will compete in the last BMW M3 built by Frank Gardner’s iconic JPS team. The car debuted in the 1987 James Hardie 1000 piloted by Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst, where it secured a class win and fourth overall.
When the team was disbanded at the end of the season and Peter Brock’s Mobile team took over the Australian BMW race programme, the car is believed to have gone into Brock’s hands and run in Mobil livery. Brock and Jim Richards won the Pepsi 250 at Oran Park, and the car would run in the Enzed 500 at Sandown and again at Bathurst.
Towe’s M3 will be joined by Rick Allen in an ex-Tony Longhurst/Johnny Cecotto Benson & Hedges BMW E30 M3. The car was the last BMW Motorsport E30 M3 built during the Group A period and would score fourth in the 1992 Tooheys 1000 with Longhurst and Cecotto. In 1993 Longhurst drove it in the Australian Touring Car Championship and again at Bathurst, with Cam McLean later piloting it to victory in the 1995 Australian Sports Sedan Championship.
For Jaguar fans, Tony Pallas will bring out the twelve-cylinder ex-Garry Willmington Group A XJ-S. Built up from a 1983 XJ-S by Garry Willmington and debuting in 1985, this is one of the earliest Group A cars competing with the series.
Craig Foster will run an ex-Toyota Team Australia AE86. This is the last of the factory-built Toyota Racing Development TTA AE86s that came across from Japan. Its career spanned from late 1986 all the way through to TTA’s final race at Oran Park in 1989, when it won the manufacturer title with John Smith on board. Foster will be joined by David Paterson, piloting a Bob Holden Motors Toyota Sprinter.
Anthony Alford will bring the 1991 Sandown 500-winning GIO Nissan GT-R out to play and will be joined by Kyle Alford in the Group A Nissan GTS HR31, with these two sure to keep the pointy end occupied.
These cars and more will represent the golden age of Australian touring car racing at the HSRCA Sydney Classic. With the Australian 5 Litre Touring Car Association picking up where Group A left off in 1992, and a strong Group N field developing, this should be a massive meeting for fans of classic tin top racing.
Join us at Sydney Motorsport Park over the weekend of June 12 & 13 to honour Ron Tauranac and enjoy a massive weekend of motor racing. Spectator passes are available online via Eventbrite, and you can get there by clicking this link. They’ll be available at the gate all weekend.
The HSRCA is proudly supported by Shannons.