The Australian National Motor Racing Museum celebrates the rich history of Australian Motor Sport, with a particular focus on Bathurst in New South Wales and Mount Panorama as the spiritual home of Australian motor racing. Mike Fourie went for a quick visit to brush up on his Australian motoring history.
Located at Murray’s Corner, Mount Panorama, the museum was officially opened in 1988 by the late Peter Brock. Through changes in name and the move to our current location, the Museum and collection has grown substantially over the last 30 years.
2003 Holden Monaro 427C & 2001 Holden VY Commodore
In the final Bathurst 24-Hour race, which was held in 2003, the 7.0-litre Monaro 427C (left) driven by the legendary Peter Brock and co-drivers Greg Murphy, Jason Bright and Todd Kelly defeated a number of international teams from the FIA N-GT class, as well as several domestic Nations Cup competitors, to record a 1-2 for Holden, 12 laps ahead of the 3rd-placed Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
The earlier Holden VY Commodore (right) was powered by a 5.0-litre Aurora V8 engine and holds the distinction of being the only V8 Supercar to compete in both the Bathurst 1000 and 12 Hour races. It began its racing career in 2001, competed in the Nurburgring 24 Hour, Spa 12 Hour, Sepang 12 Hour and Dubai 24 Hour and was finally retired in 2013, when Mal Rose, Aaron Tebb and Adam Wallis finished first in class in the Bathurst 12 Hour (it still wears its battle scars on the front bumper).
2003 Reynard Champ Car
Although this specific car has no racing pedigree, it was the first Champ Car to wear the colours of Team Australia, which was created in late 2004 when Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish bought into Derrick Walker's racing team. The Aussie team raced Lola chassis in the 2005 Champ Car World Series, in which Will Power (who’d later become the 2014 IndyCar champion and 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner) debuted at Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland. The following year he became the first Australian to win pole position in the event known as the Gold Coast Indy 300. Gore took the team’s name to IndyCar when Champ Cars and the Indy Racing League amalgamated in 2008.
Holden VU/VY Commodore V8 Ute
This brightly-coloured racing bakkie (nicknamed Assassin) made its first appearance in the V8 Brute Ute Racing Series in 2002, after which it was purchased by former Australian Nascar champion Kim Jane, who raced it until the VE Holden was introduced. Powered by 225-kW 5.7-litre Holden Gen Ill engine (with a Motec ECU) mated with a 6-speed gearbox, the Ute competed in 120 races, in which it scored 5 race wins, 7 podiums and finished 3rd overall in the 2007 V8 Ute Series.
1986 Holden VK Commodore Group A
Touring Cars in Australia moved from Group C regulations to the international Group A formula at the beginning of the 1985 season (manufacturers were required to build 5 000 road-going versions and 500 evolution derivatives to homologate their race cars). In 1986, Peter Brock teamed up with long-time rival and renowned Ford racer Allan Moffat. In that year’s Bathurst 1000, Moffat crashed the car during Friday practice, necessitating an overnight rebuild at a repair workshop. The car was driven back to the circuit with a police escort, and after being delayed by a split oil cooler, Brock and Moffat finished 4th, but the pair went on to win the 1987 Wellington 500 in 1987.
1967 Ford Mustang GTA
In the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC), only one car has won 3 consecutive championships: Ian Geoghegan's 1967 Ford Mustang GTA. This car was built to Improved Production specifications with a race-prepared 4.7-litre V8, quad Weber carburettors, a 4-speed Top Loader gearbox and Ford 9-inch differential. The car debuted at the Lakeside ATCC race in July 1967, taking the victory in the single-round championship. In 1968, and the Mustang received only minor upgrades before the championship race, at Warwick Farm and, when the ATCC title would move to a national series in 1969, the Mustang was fitted with a fuel-injected 5.0-litre V8, as well as weight-saving modifications. Victories at the Bathurst and Mallala rounds, plus a 2nd place at Calder were enough to secure Geoghegan's 4th consecutive title, and the 3rd with this car.
The George Reed Special
George Reed from Bathurst, New South Wales built, and raced cars in the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. He built a total of 5 Reed specials and this “Red Car” is a replica of his third car, powered by a Ford VB 3.9-litre side-valve engine with Offenhauser heads. The original car was constructed over a period of six weeks and its most famous win came for Warwick Pratley at the 1951 Australian Grand Prix at the Narrogin Circuit in Western Australia. The car also won the Bathurst 100 on 3 occasions.
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
Having finished 2nd in the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour (for GT3 specification cars), Australian outfit Erebus Motorsport and the German Black Falcon team entered a new, factory-supported Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the 2013 event. Piloted by the legendary Bernd Schneider and co-drivers Thomas Jager and Alexander Roloff, car #36 scored a 1-lap victory over the 2nd-placed Ferrari 458.
This car also delivered race victories for Jack Le Brocq at the Australian GT championship rounds at Phillip Island and Eastern Creek, a win for 1998-1999 F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen and Matt Solomon at the Zhuhai Grand Prix and pole position for Maro Engel at the Macau Grand Prix.
Envoy V8 Sports Racing Car & 1964 Wolseley 24/80 Mk 2
Matthew Windsor, a well-respected Bathurst driver and mechanic, bought this Envoy V8 Sports Racing Car, which had been used in Western Australian Hillclimb events, almost 20 years ago. It had been sitting in a chicken shed, but Matthew restored this vehicle – powered by a 5.0-litre Ford V8 mated with a Volkswagen Kombi gearbox – over a period of 12 years; He bought a new set of Avon tyres from England and entered the car in the 2012 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Mount Panorama. The 1.7 km Mountain Straight course is Australia’s longest and fastest Hillclimb course.
John Lindsell’s 1964 Wolseley (right) has completed in the Variety Bash – an annual fundraising event organised by a prominent children's charity, which began in 1985 – a remarkable 31 times. Although not a race or a rally, the event is restricted to vehicles over 30 years old, and comprises some of Australia's most notorious outback and dirt roads that test the durability of the classic cars. Since his first event in 1989, John has traveled over 200 000 km in the Wolseley during the events. The car carries sponsorship from many local Bathurst businesses, including the iconic Chiko Roll.
1963 Cortina GT and 1966 Mini Cooper S
This is an original-specification replica of the Cortina GT with which Bob Jane and Harry Firth took overall and class 'C' honours in the 1963 Bathurst 500 at Mount Panorama. Jane and Firth finished a full lap ahead of the Fred Morgan and Ralph Sach Holden EH S4. This was the first 'Great Race' to be held in Bathurst after shifting from Phillip Island and was dominated by small British-made cars.
The 1966 Mini Cooper S (right) is replica of the car with which Rauno Aaltonen and Bob Holden won the Gallaher 500. That year, 17 of 19 entries in Class C were the newly-released 1.275-litre Cooper S and the factory BMC team comprised a mixture of international rallying stars and local Mini specialists. The Cooper S was utterly dominant and claimed the top 9 finishing positions.
1967 Ford XR Falcon GT & 1968 Holden HK Monaro GTS 327
This 1967 XR Falcon GT marks a milestone in the history of Australian touring car racing. Powered by a 168-kW 4.7-litre V8 with a 4-speed gearbox, the XR GT was claimed to have a 190 km/h top seed and was the first in the series of legendary cars to wear the GT nameplate. For the 500-mile race at Bathurst, the Falcons were 5 seconds a lap faster than the previously dominant Minis. This is a replica of the car of the winning #52D Ford factory entry, driven by Harry Firth and Fred Gibson.
With the arrival of the Holden HK Monaro GTS 327 (right) the Ford and Holden rivalry intensified. After the dominance of the Ford XR Falcon GT the previous year, eight Holden HK Monaros, powered by 5.4-litre Chevrolet V8 engines, faced up to nine Falcon GTs in Class D. A 3-car Holden Dealer Team were the favourites, but the race was won by Bruce McPhee’s HK Monaro GTS 327. He drove all but 1 lap (the other tour was completed by co-driver Barry Mulholland – but that was within the rules).
1973 Holden Torana XU-1
1973 was a landmark year for Aussie circuit racing, when the Touring Car Championship and the Bathurst endurance race (which had changed from 500 miles to 1000 kilometres and featured 4 classes according to engine capacity rather than retail price) were run to the same rules for cars sold on the Australian market. Class D (for cars 3 to 6 litres in capacity) was dominated by the Holden Torana XU-1 (with a 3.3-litre in-line six), which competed against the Falcon XA GT and E49 Valiant Chargers. There were 17 XU-1s in the Bathurst 1000 field that year and this car, driven by Bob Jane and John Harvey, finished fourth behind the winning Falcon of Allan Moffat and Ian Geoghegan.
1972 Holden HQ Monaro GTS350
At the start of the 1970s, the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) was dominated by American muscle cars, so Improved Production rules were introduced in 1972 to improve the competitiveness of local produced vehicles, such as a capacity limit of 6.0 litres and mandatory rear drum brakes. For 1972, John Sheppard developed this HQ Monaro, powered by a fuel-injected 5.7-litre Chevrolet V8 for Bob Jane, who’d won the 1971 ATCC title with a Camaro. Sheppard applied every trick in the book to Holden's then-new HQ-series Monaro GTS350. Although the rules required many stock components, many hours went into fully optimizing the car, and trimming its weight.
The car finished 3rd on debut in the hands of John Harvey at the 1972 Surfers Paradise round of the ATCC, while Jane took the car's first victory in the Calder Park Marlboro Trophy Series round.
In 1973, the Australian Touring Car Championship rules shifted again, so the Monaro began a new career, winning the 1974 and 1975 Sports Sedan series with minimal upgrades to the car's original specifications. The car recorded 3 wins in the National Sports Sedan Championship between 1976 and 1977 and competed in Sports Sedan and GT Championship races until 1987.
1974 Ford XA Falcon GT
In an example of a privateer entry beating the best that the factory teams could muster, John Goss (an Australian Grand Prix winner) and Kevin Bartlett (a dual Gold Star winner) drove this Ford XA Falcon to victory in the 1974 Bathurst 1000. It one of the wettest races on record, Goss drove his 3 and a half-hour stint in atrocious conditions until he handed over to Bartlett. At the time, Bob Forbes, driving a Holden Torana LH SLR was just 5 seconds in the lead, but when he pitted, Bartlett swept to the lead and, in a consummate example of wet weather driving, stayed in front to the end.
1976 Holden LH Torana L34
The build up to the 1976 Bathurst 1000 was quite incredible, because Australia’s 3-time F1 world champion, Sir Jack Brabham and the man widely regarded as the greatest driver never to win an F1 driver’s title, Stirling Moss were to be teamed together in The Great Race. However, when the race started their Torana was locked in gear and rear-ended by a Triumph Dolomite Sprint. The Torana was taken to the garage to be repaired. The car was out of action for a long time and would usually not be allowed to restart, but given that a large number of the 37 000 spectators had come to see their heroes in action, the organisers made an exception. In the end, the car only completed 37 laps.
1976 Holden LH Torana SUR 5000 L34
Holden dominated the 1976 Bathurst 1000 (Toranas claimed the first 7 places), but the manner in which Bathurst regular Bob Morris and English co-driver Englishman John Fitzpatrick won the race in this car is very significant. Fitzpatrick was driving the last stint, but with 4 laps to go the #7 Torana started blowing smoke from a broken gearbox seal that was leaking oil onto the clutch. To add to the drama, the car’s rear axle was about to fail and the team thought their race was run. With the Torana of Peter Brock in 3rd position closing fast on Colin Bond’s HDT Torana for 2nd place, both were catching Fitzpatrick. But the Englishman nursed the ailing L34 to the top of the course on the last lap and then coasted to the finish line where a tearful and relieved Morris awaited him.
1977 Ford XC Falcon Hardtop
Following Ford’s humiliation at the 1976 Bathurst 1000 at the hands of Holden, the Blue Oval scored a formation 1-2 finish in the following year’s race, with the Moffat Ford Dealers Team XC Falcon Hardtop of Alan Moffat and Belgian endurance-racing specialist Jacky lckx taking the chequered flag.
The team’s form had been very strong during the 1977 touring car season, with 6 round wins from 8 starts, 5 of those as a 1-2 result for the team. The Moffat/Ickx car started the race in the 3rd grid position, just behind the sister car driven by former Holden Dealer Team ace Colin Bond and his co-driver Allan Hamilton. The challenge from Peter Brock in his new Holden A9X hatchback faded within the first few laps of the race, so Moffat took the lead with Bond assumed the second position.
In the closing laps, however, Moffat’s car’s rear brakes faded, and Bond would have taken the lead, but the team’s pit board instructed its drivers: "Form Finish 1-2". Bond complied with team orders; his Falcon famously toured alongside Moffat’s car while the television cameras followed the pair through their final lap – one of the most memorable sights in Australian motor racing history.
1977 Schnitzer BMW 2002 Group 5
BMW and tuning firm Schnitzer prepared a number of entries during the Group A era of the Bathurst 1000 touring car race. In 1977, a new class for FIA Group 5 cars were introduced in the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DRM), which saw huge wings and flared wheel arches became the norm, and in the 2.0- to 5.0-litre class, cars developed peak power outputs off well over 450 kW.
For 1977, Schnitzer competed with the BMW 2002 Turbo, which was powered by a 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that developed 280 kW in a car that weighed only 810 kg. Team Schnitzer built only 2 examples of this car, with the other car still held in the company's Museum.
1978 Holden LX Torana SS A9X
In response to the Moffat Ford Team's 1-2 finish at Bathurst 1000 in 1977, GM-H overhauled their efforts through the Holden Dealer Team, with John Sheppard replacing Harry Firth as team manager, and Peter Brock returning to the team as lead driver. In the first full season for the new Torana SS A9X, Brock secured the Australian Touring Car Championship and teamed up with New Zealander Jim Richards to win the Sandown 500; they were big favourites to triumph at the Bathurst 1000.
And, starting from pole position, the pair’s #5 car took the lead on lap 35 of 163 and would finish the race a lap clear of Allan Grice and John Leffler in 2nd place, also in a Torana SS A9X. It was Richards’ first win at Mount Panorama and Brock would go on to win 6 of the next 7 races at Bathurst.
1980 Toyota Celica GT Group C
This car – the 3rd Celica built by the Peter Williamson team – was built in mid-1980 in preparation for that season's endurance races, replacing the RA40 model Celica that was the first racing car in the world to carry the RaceCam camera system (at Bathurst in 1979). Although it finished 1st in class in the Australian Touring Car Championship, Williamson and co-driver Mike Quinn’s car retired from the 1980 Bathurst 1000 when the RaceCam system caused a terminal electrical failure on lap 129.
In 1981, the car was repainted into its current livery, as featured on the 1981 Bathurst promotional poster and programme, but for that year’s endurance races, it featured an orange and red colour scheme. Again wearing number 77, the Celica GT reaped class victories at the Sandown Hang Ten 400 and Bathurst 1000 with John Smith driving alongside Peter Williamson. The car raced until 1988.
1982 Holden Commodore VH Group C & Nissan Bluebird Turbo
Dick Johnson and John French’s Ford XD Falcon had temporarily ended the Holden domination of Bathurst 1000 in 1981, but the following year, the Commodores came back stronger than ever. This car, driven by Bathurst regular Allan Grice and also Alan Browne (in the RECAR livery) was the fastest in practice, with a lap of 2:17.5 and thus becoming the first touring car to break the old 100-mph lap record. Grice led the race from pole position, but spun on lap 12; Peter Brock and Larry Perkins when on to win the 1982 Bathurst 1000, but Grice and Browne recovered to finish second. This car bears the livery for the 1984 instalment of the famous race, in which Grice was paired with Steve Harrington. Unfortunately, the car retired after 7 laps that year because of a gearbox problem.
Built around an original rally version, this is a replica of the Nissan Bluebird Turbo (right) that was driven by George Fury in the Group C category of Australian Touring Car Championships in 1983 and 1984, as well as the Bathurst 1000 events in those years. The car, powered by a turbocharged 1.8-litre 4 cylinder engine with a single overhead camshaft and twin-spark ignition, developed 260 kW. It’s most renowned for its smashing the lap record during the top 10 shootout for pole position at the 1984 Bathurst 1000. In the hands of Fury, the Nissan posted a stunning 2:13.85 lap time around the 6.213-km circuit, a time that stood for the next 7 years, until it was beaten by a Nissan R32 GT-R.
1988 BMW M3 Group A & Ford Sierra Cosworth RS 500
BMW released its E30 M3 as a homologation model for worldwide touring car racing in 1986 and Jim Richards’s M3 duly clinched the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) in 1987, by winning 4 of the 9 rounds in the series. In 1988, the factory BMW effort would be with a new sponsor, Mobil, and a new driver added to the team – the legendary Peter Brock, following his acrimonious parting with Holden in 1987. This M3 is one of the team's cars for the 1988 ATCC season, and in the hands of Richards and Brock won that year’s Pepsi 250, which was the latter's only race win for a BMW.
The reason for the M3’s brief success was the Ford Sierra Cosworth RS 500 (right). Driven by Tony Longhurst and Czech-born Tomas Mezera, this car won the 1988 Bathurst 1000 – the first time a 4-cylinder car had won the Great Race since 1966. The Sierra Cosworth quickly became the car of choice in global Group A touring car racing and dominated the British, European and Australian championships over the next 3 seasons. The Fords of the Eggenberger team appeared to win the 1987 Bathurst 1000 by finishing first and second, but they were subsequently disqualified.
1995 Holden VR Commodore & 1998 Ford EL Falcon V8 Supercars
Larry Perkins and Russell lngall scored a remarkable last-to-first victory in the 1995 Bathurst 1000. When the front left tyre of the Castrol-backed VR Commodore failed as a result of a 1st-lap collision, Perkins fell to the back of the field and, when lngall took over the car on lap 34, the Jim Richards’ Commodore put #11 a lap down. The retirement of Richards’ car on lap 64 returned lngall to the lead lap, however, and by the time a safety car was deployed on lap 132, Perkins was in 4th position. In the two laps after the race resumed, Perkins took 3rd and 2nd place. He was unable to close in on Glenn Seton’s Falcon, but inherited the lead when the Ford suffered a mechanical failure on lap 151.
The blue, Komatsu-backed 1998 Ford EL Falcon (second from left) was built for the Longhurst Racing team and campaigned by none other than 1980 Formula One World Champion Alan Jones, who was paired with the 1998 Formula Ford champion, Adan Macrow, in endurance races. Alas, the EL Falcon would suffer poor fortune at the Bathurst 1000 that year and failed to finish the Great Race. The same happened in 1999 (with Alan Heath and Mick Donaher at the ‘wheel), but the car finally saw the Bathurst 1000 chequered flag in 2000, when Gary Baxter and Layton Crambrook finished 28th.
1998 Holden VT Commodore V8 Supercar & 2001 Ford Falcon AU
This is first VT Commodore V8 Supercar built for the Holden Racing Team in 1998, with which 7-time Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes secured the 1998 Australian Touring Car Championship and scored round wins at Adelaide and Barbagallo, as well as race victories at Eastern Creek and Phillip Island in the first 5 rounds the 1999 Shell Championship series, which he ultimately won. Having won the Bathurst 1000 in VR Commodore a 1996, his best result in the Great Race at the wheel of a VT Commodore was a 2nd place in the 1999 race. In 2000 he parted ways with the Holden Racing Team.
And so, in 2001, Lowndes angered loyal Holden fans when he “defected” to arch-rival Ford’s Gibson Motor Sport team to campaign the 2001 Ford Falcon AU (right). Lowndes recounts that he even received a death threat and had to hire a bodyguard for 6 months. Gibson Motor Sport was later renamed to 00 Motorsport and Lowndes' black and silver Falcon earned the "green-eyed monster" for the bright-green covers on its headlights in later years. He won the Bathurst 1000 for Ford in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but returned to Holden in 2010, for which he won 3 more “Great Races”.
1984 Holden VK Commodore Group C
1984 marked the final year of the Australian Group C formula at the Bathurst 1000 at the Holden Dealer Team entered a pair of new VK Commodores, with 1982 and 1983 winner Peter Brock looking for a hat-trick of victories in the Great Race. Although he missed several rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship due to his Le Mans 24 hour campaign, Brock and co-river Larry Perkins were the favourites. A record-equalling 63 cars started the race, but a pile-up on the grid resulted in a red flag, and the race restarted some 35 minutes later. Brock led from the second start, but Dick Johnson and John French’s XE Falcon took the lead on lap 48. A slow pit stop for the Ford returned Brock to the lead, and when Johnson's car stopped on lap 107, Brock and Perkins stroked it home to take the checquered flag. John Harvey and David Parsons brought the other HDT Commodore home in 2nd position, enabling Holden to record a 1-2 result at Bathurst at the end of the Group C era.
In 1979, Repco decided to run an around Australia Reliability Trial and the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team, who were in their early stages of dominating touring car racing, entered 3 Commodores that featured alloy bootlids and bonnets, XU-1 spec 6-cylinder engines, M21 (VB-spec) gearboxes and 200-litre fuel tanks. Peter Brock, who ultimately won the race in this car (middle), regarded the win the highlight of his motorsport career… which included no fewer than 9 Bathurst 1000 victories.
1987 Ford Falcon XF Ute & Sunswift II
Sydney racing driver and aeronautical engineer Jim Hunter and Randy Salmont won their class in the 1987 Baja 1000 desert race – regarded as the toughest off road race in the world – in this heavily modified Ford Falcon XF utility. Unlike the Dakar Rally, which is a multi-stage race that allows overnight stops and rebuilds of competing vehicles, the Baja is non-stop, taking about 22 hours to complete. Powered by a Ford Cleveland race engine, the considerably strengthened Ford Falcon XF Ute featured front and rear torsion bars used instead of springs, a lengthened wheelbase, a centrally-mounted gearbox and strategically positioned shock absorbers, which enable the car to negotiate some of the roughest terrain in the world. And the top speed? Well over 200 kph.
The Sunswift II solar racing car (right) was designed and built by University of New South Wales students in 1997 and refined over the following 7 years, during which it competed in the 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003 SunRace, as well as the 1999, 2001 and 2003 World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide. The power collected by the solar array, which consists of 7 000 high efficiency buried-contact solar cells was around 1.2 kW, which is what it takes to toast a piece of bread, but the car had a 130-kph top speed by virtue of its efficient electrical system, aerodynamics and carbon-fibre structure. The Sunswift team remains the only solar-car team in the world to have built its own cells and developed a new method of encapsulation that allows solar panels to have composite curves.
2014 Ford FG Falcon
Whereas Larry Perkins and Russell lngall won the 1995 Bathurst 1000 in a VR Commodore after running last early on in the race, the Ford FG Falcon of Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris won the 2014 Bathurst 1000 after starting stone last. That year marked the longest running in the race's history (just shy of 8 hours), including 10 safety-car interruptions and an hour's stoppage after 61 laps to repair damaged tarmac at turn two. The race is widely considered one of the best in the history of the event; Mostert passed the Holden VF Commodore of Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrellon – who ran out of fuel when entering the Conrod Straight on the final lap – to claim a famous victory.