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Feature: Adelaide alive!

SupercarXtra Magazine issue #127 reflects back on the Australian Grand Prix Group A/V8 touring car support races in Adelaide.

12 December 2022

Adelaide came alive when it hosted the Australian Grand Prix between 1985 and 1995. While the main event was Formula 1, the Group A/V8 touring car support races were always a highlight of the weekend, with the non-championship encounters giving a taste of what lay ahead on the Adelaide Street Circuit. 

Though there were no championship points at stake, there was no shortage of action from the category that became known as Supercars and would headline the Adelaide 500 event on a shortened version of the Adelaide Street Circuit from 1999.

SupercarXtra Magazine issue #127 looks at what unfolded in the Australian Grand Prix Group A/V8 touring car support races in Adelaide.

CLICK HERE for more information on issue #127.

Australia’s first hosting of a round of the Formula 1 world championship in 1985 coincided with a local switch to international Group A touring car rules that year, which saw Ford hero Dick Johnson swap his home-grown 5.8-litre V8 Falcon for an imported five-litre V8 Ford Mustang.

Johnson duly qualified on pole for the first Australian Grand Prix touring car support race ahead of Formula 1 rising star Gerhard Berger, guest-driving a Bob Jane-backed Schnitzer BMW. 

Johnson bolted into the lead of the 15-lap race, while John Harvey’s HDT Commodore unloaded Berger’s BMW into a gravel trap. Peter Brock, running rock hard tyres, set the fastest race lap in his pursuit of Johnson’s Mustang. He got to within one second of the race leader before having to settle for second.

The last Australian Grand Prix to be held in Adelaide produced a familiar result for newly crowned champ John Bowe, who left with pole position, a new lap record and two more emphatic race wins.

Bowe’s qualifying time was the fastest ever recorded by a touring car on the circuit, eclipsing another eight cars, led by Glenn Seton, which were all under the lap record.

Seton was fastest away in the first 15-lap race, hotly pursued by Wayne Gardner’s Coke Commodore and Bowe. The motorcycle champ tapped Seton hard enough to push him off the line and allow both himself and Bowe to sneak past. Bowe then passed Gardner on lap two, who also succumbed to a flying Seton two laps later, which was the way they finished.

Bowe made a lightning start in the final race to pull clear of a furious scrap for second between Gardner and Seton, which resulted in the Coke Commodore ending up buried in the tyre-lined concrete wall.

The non-championship support races continued when the Australian Grand Prix moved from Adelaide to Albert Park in Melbourne in 1996. It wouldn’t be until 2018 that the support races at the Australian Grand Prix were included into the Supercars championship.

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