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Flashback: The Camaro in Australian touring cars

The Camaro follows in the footsteps of the Mustang in returning to the Australian Touring Car Championship for the third time when it hits the track in 2022, reigniting their rivalry from the 1960s and 1970s, as we reflect back on in SupercarXtra Magazine issue #119. 

05 January 2021

CLICK HERE for more information on issue #119.

The Camaro first appeared in the championship in 1967, when the Mustang was in the middle of its five-year title-winning run. While the Mustang was the car to beat in the first half of the “˜Improved Production’ era, run from 1965 to 1972, General Motors products came on strong in the latter half. 

After a breakthrough championship win for Holden courtesy of Norm Beechey in the HT Monaro GTS350 in 1970, the ZL-1 Camaro came into its own in 1971 with Bob Jane winning the championship. 

The seven-litre V8 Camaro of Jane won three of seven championship races in 1971, claiming the title by six points from Allan Moffat and his Mustang. Despite Jane being forced to reduce the engine’s capacity of 5.7 litres in 1972, he defended the championship with four wins from eight races for an even greater points margin.

The change to the Group C regulations in 1973 forced a move away from the American muscle cars to locally-made products such as the Falcon and the Torana, though Jane did race his Camaro at Calder Park that season only to be stripped of the win given the car’s ineligibility. 

The Camaro (Z28, pictured above) returned in Group C specification in 1979. Though championship success eluded the two-door coupe, it was one of the most iconic cars of the era with Kevin Bartlett’s Channel 9-sponsored entry a regular contender at Bathurst and in the championship. 

Bartlett scored two pole positions at Bathurst and three championship race wins between 1980 and 1982, finishing runner-up in the standings in 1980, though further progress was stunted by technical restrictions and problematic disc brakes. While Bartlett moved on from the Camaro in 1983, various privateers ran the Z28 until the end of the Group C era in 1984. 

The Camaro returns for a third time in the championship from 2022, reuniting with its American muscle-car foe in the Mustang for a revival of their rivalry. 

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