Our History

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship (formally Australian Touring Car Championship) is the premier motorsport category in Australasia and one of Australia’s biggest sports. Globally, it is recognised as the best touring car category in the world and a leader in motorsport entertainment.

From 1960 to 1968 the Australian Touring Car Championship was decided by a single race, but since 1969 it has been determined by a series, consisting of 16 events across the country with a visit to New Zealand in 2018. 

Its title changed from the traditional ‘Australia Touring Car Championship’ to the ‘Shell Championship Series’ in 1999, then the ‘V8 Supercars Championship Series’ in 2003.

A simplified ‘V8 Supercars Championship’ adopted in 2011 was followed by the ‘Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’ with 2016’s naming-rights partnership with Virgin Australia.

From 1995 to 2012 it was solely the domain of the legendary Holden vs Ford battle. A milestone 2013 was the first year of the Car of the Future (COTF) platform.

These cars are lighter, more economical, have increased agility and are highly competitive than their predecessors, and create better racing.

That has opened up the Ford vs Holden battleground to other manufacturers, with Nissan also active in the championship with its Altima, while the new Gen2 regulations offer further scope.

Supercars delivers exhilarating and accessible motorsports-led entertainment to engaged and passionate fans, creating a proud and aligned set of partners, race teams and employees.

Our-History

Chronology of Milestones and Major Events

Holden’s new ZB Commodore becomes the first Supercar built to the new Gen2 rules package, and the maiden hatchback on the grid.

It will be paired with a V6, twin-turbo engine making its race debut as a wildcard with Triple Eight, which has developed both the ZB and the new powerplant.

Two rounds will be held in South Australia for the first time since 1977, as the new Bend Motorsport Park facility joins the season-opening Adelaide 500 on the calendar.

1960

The first Australian Touring Car Championship is held over a single race at Gnoo-Blas in Orange on February 1, won by David McKay in a Jaguar.

The first Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island is held on November 20. It is the race that eventually became the annual Bathurst classic we know today as the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

1962

Tasmania hosts its first Australian Touring Car Championship. Held on the Longford circuit (not far from the current Symmons Plains), the one-off 15-lap race is won on March 3 by Bob Jane’s Jaguar 3.8. Fellow Jaguar pilots Bill Pitt and Bill Burns round out the podium.

1963

The Armstrong 500 moves from Phillip Island (its home of three years) to Bathurst and thus begins the event we now know as the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. The first Armstrong 500 is won by Bob Jane and Harry Firth in a Cortina GT on October 6.

1964

The first Sandown endurance race is held in Melbourne. A six-hour international touring car race, it’s won by the Alfa Romeo Super Ti of Ralph Sach and Italian Roberto Bussinello. The race eventually grows into what becomes known as the Sandown 500.

Ian Geoghegan wins the first of five Australian Touring Car Championship crowns on July 26 at Lakeside in Queensland. Only Dick Johnson, Mark Skaife and Jamie Whincup match his achievement in future years.

1966

Mini Coopers dominate Bathurst, taking the first nine positions outright in the Armstrong 500. Victory is taken by Bob Holden and Finn Rauno Aaltonen.

1969

The Australian Touring Car Championship is held as a series of races, rather than a stand-alone race, for the very first time. Across five rounds, the title is decided in favour of Ian Geoghegan’s Mustang in the final at Symmons Plains in Tasmania. The title is Geoghegan’s fifth.

1970

Norm Beechey becomes the first driver to win the Australian Touring Car Championship in an Australian-built car. His Holden Monaro GTS 350 finishes four points clear of Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911.

1972

Peter Brock wins his first Bathurst classic. Making his fourth start in the Hardie Ferodo 500, Brock drives his Holden Torana XU-1 solo to take victory in wet conditions. The win is the first of an eventual nine for the man to become ‘King of the Mountain’.

1973

Group C regulations are introduced, effectively merging the separate rulebooks under which the Australian Touring Car Championship and the annual Bathurst enduro had been conducted. Allan Moffat wins the first ATCC crown under Group C rules in his Ford Falcon GT-HO.

The Bathurst 1000 is expanded, moving from 500 miles to being held over 1000 kilometres.

1975

The Seven Network telecasts the Bathurst 1000 – then known as the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 – for the first time in colour.

1977

Allan Moffat and Colin Bond line up for an iconic 1-2 formation finish in the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst. The Fords crush Holden’s debuting Torana A9X, with the best Holden of Peter Janson and Larry Perkins (making his Bathurst debut) finishing third.

1978

Peter Brock takes pole position at Bathurst in the very first ‘Hardies Heroes’ Top 10 Shootout. A unique concept at the time, Brock’s Torana A9X is fastest against the clock and goes on to win with Jim Richards as co-driver. The Shootout qualifying format would later become a regular part of the championship itself.

1980

Queensland privateer Dick Johnson smashes into a rock while leading the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst. With his car destroyed, a tearful Johnson appears on national television. Sympathetic viewers begin ringing in to Channel 7 and donate money – matched dollar-for-dollar by Ford – to help get him back on the track.

1981

Dick Johnson returns to the track in a new Tru-Blu Falcon XD, built using the funds raised by fans and Ford. He wins his first Australian Touring Car Championship and teams with John French to win a crash-shortened James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst.

1982

Peter Brock and Larry Perkins become the first drivers to win the Bathurst 1000 while carrying an in-car camera. They lead home a clean sweep of the podium for Commodore drivers with Allan Grice/Alan Browne second and John Harvey/Gary Scott third.

1983

Allan Moffat wins his fourth Australian Touring Car Championship – and first in a Mazda RX-7. It proves to be the final ATCC crown for Moffat.

1984

The end of the Group C regulations for Australian touring car racing is celebrated at Bathurst as Peter Brock and John Harvey spearhead a 1-2 form finish for the Holden Dealer Team in what’s dubbed ‘the last of the big bangers’.

1985

Group A international touring car regulations are introduced to Australia, bringing it in line with the rest of the world. Overseas cars from the likes of Volvo, Jaguar, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Mitsubishi make it hard for the locally produced Holden to compete.

Jim Richards wins the first Australian Touring Car Championship run to Group A rules in his BMW 635 and John Goss and German Armin Hahne win the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst for Jaguar.

1986

Kiwi Robbie Francevic becomes the oldest man to win the Australian Touring Car Championship aged 44. He also becomes the first – and only! – driver to win the crown driving a Volvo.

1987

Peter Brock wins his last Bathurst 1000 crown. Initially flagged across the line third in the Mobil Commodore he shared with David Parsons and Peter McLeod, he’s promoted to victory after the top two Texaco Sierras are excluded for technical irregularities.

The race is a round of the World Touring Car Championship for the first and only time, and The Chase – a deviation and chicane in Conrod Straight – is introduced.

1989

Dick Johnson wins his first full-length Bathurst. Paired with John Bowe, the duo lead all 161 laps to claim victory in their Shell Sierra turbo. This remains the last time one single car led every lap on its way to victory at Bathurst.

1990

The Holden Racing Team is created by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and makes its racing debut in the opening round of the Australian Touring Car Championship at Amaroo Park in Sydney with Win Percy driving.

Later in the year Percy and Allan Grice claim a surprise win in the Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst, the first win in The Great Race for HRT.

1991

Nissan wins the Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst with its mighty GT-R in the hands of Jim Richards and Mark Skaife. The victory is the first by a Japanese car in the Australian classic. 

1992

Mark Skaife claims his first Australian Touring Car Championship in the swansong of the Nissan GT-R. He and Jim Richards also win a controversial Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst when their Nissan crashes out during a late rain storm and the race is red flagged. Richards’ message to the crowd later on the podium lives on in infamy.

1993

Australian touring car racing adopts the framework of rules that later lead to the V8 Supercar category. Winged, five-litre, V8-powered Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons emerge as the replacement to the international Group A category. 

1994

The Holden Racing Team wins its first Australian Touring Car Championship round. Peter Brock, in his return year in a factory Holden, claims two race wins at Eastern Creek to seal the breakthrough victory.

Mark Skaife claims the title for Gibson Motorsport, the first ATCC crown for Holden since Brock’s 1980 success.

1996

Craig Lowndes wins his first Australian Touring Car Championship in his first season driving for the Holden Racing Team. The rookie sensation takes out the opening round at Eastern Creek on debut and goes on to claim the title. He also teams with Kiwi Greg Murphy to win the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.

1997

The ‘V8 Supercar’ brand takes over as the banner of Australia’s top category, signaling the start of a new era. Sports marketer IMG link up with the team’s organisation TEGA and create AVESCO (Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company). The category is renamed V8 Supercars but the ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ title remains for the series before being replaced in 1999.

Later, IMG divests its shareholding in the company to Sports and Entertainment Limited (SEL), led by Tony Cochrane.

1997

The first event – the opening round of the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship – is held under the banner of V8 Supercars.

A twilight event at Calder Park in Melbourne on Saturday March 15, it is won by former World Motorcycle Champion Wayne Gardner in his Coke Commodore. 

Two Bathurst 1000 events are also held in the same year. The AMP Bathurst 1000 is held for two-litre international Super Tourers and telecast on the Seven Network and the Primus 1000 Classic for V8 Supercars on the Ten Network just two weeks later.

Peter Brock competes in both but is unable to win his 10th Bathurst crown in the year of his retirement from full-time racing.

1999

Control tyres are introduced to V8 Supercars for the first time in order to level the playing field. They debut at the non-championship Albert Park event with Bridgestone winning the tender to supply the full field.

The V8 Supercars Hall of Fame is established at the first V8 Supercar Gala Awards Dinner. The inaugural inductees are Allan Moffat and Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan.

1999

The Clipsal 500 in Adelaide is held for the first time on the old Formula 1 circuit. Slightly shortened from its F1 days, the circuit quickly becomes a fan favourite and Craig Lowndes wins the inaugural event for the Holden Racing Team – even after being forced to start on Sunday from the rear of the grid.

The Bathurst 1000 is included as a part of the V8 Supercar Championship for the first time.

2000

A second-tier V8 Supercar series is created as a development category for drivers, teams and personnel. Initially known as the ‘Konica V8 Lites’, the first round is held at Eastern Creek on March 26, 2000 and Dean Canto wins the first series. It is now known as the Dunlop Super2 Series.

2001

The V8 Supercar Championship holds its first overseas event at Pukekohe in New Zealand. Kiwi hero Greg Murphy blitzes the field and wins all three races for Kmart Racing.

2002

Jim Richards becomes the oldest driver to win the Bathurst 1000. At 55 he teams with 1991 and 1992 race-winning partner Mark Skaife to seal victory for the Holden Racing Team. The win is Richards’ seventh in The Great Race, second only to Peter Brock.

2003

‘Project Blueprint’ regulations are introduced to V8 Supercar racing, effectively removing the ongoing fight over parity and standardizing some of the parts beneath the skin of the Falcons and Commodores.

The Commodore adopts new double front wishbone suspension with the VY to bring it into line with the new BA Falcon.

2003

Marcos Ambrose wins his first V8 Supercars Championship and the first for Ford in six years. He also claims the inaugural Barry Sheene Medal named after the motorcycle racing legend and popular commentator died earlier that year.

Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall have their now-infamous ‘Shriek At The Creek’. On November 30, the rivals clash on-track, sending Skaife into the wall and out of the race. The Ford pilot swerves at an irate Skaife on the next lap, though is excluded from the event for his involvement in the incident.

2004

Marcos Ambrose seals back-to-back V8 Supercars Championships for Ford and Stone Brothers Racing. He competes for one more season before quitting the sport to move to America and race in NASCAR in 2006.

2005

AVESCO is renamed V8 Supercars Australia in the same year that the series races in Shanghai, China, for the first time. An event won by Todd Kelly, this is the first and only time the series competes at the home of the Chinese Grand Prix.

2006

The Seven Network signs a multi-million dollar television broadcast rights deal for V8 Supercars to cover the 2007-2012 seasons and return to telecasting the series for the first time since 1996.

2006

Australian motor racing legend Peter Brock is killed in a tarmac rally accident in Perth on September 8. Out of respect to the nine-time winner of the Bathurst endurance classic, the Peter Brock Trophy is inaugurated for the winners of the race.

Brock’s protégé Craig Lowndes claims the trophy alongside Jamie Whincup, breaking his 10-year Bathurst-winning drought through a sea of tears on the podium. 

2007

Mark Skaife breaks Peter Brock’s long-held record of most victories in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercar Championship. The Holden Racing Team driver claims victory in the Queen’s Birthday round held at Eastern Creek in Sydney.

1995 Australian Touring Car Champion and two-time Bathurst 1000 winner John Bowe retires from V8 Supercar racing in the final round at Phillip Island, in turn creating the record for the most number of events starts in the history of the ATCC/V8 Supercars Championship – 225.

2008

Five-time ATCC/V8 Supercars Champion Mark Skaife retires from full-time V8 Supercar racing and sells his share of the Holden Racing Team. He makes his final appearance for the factory Holden squad at Oran Park, which is also the last-ever ATCC/V8 Supercars event at the Sydney circuit before it is turned into a housing development.

2009

Two marquee events make their long-awaited debut on the V8 Supercars Championship calendar – the Townsville 400 in North Queensland and the Sydney Telstra 500 at Sydney Olympic Park. 

2010

Craig Lowndes leads home a TeamVodafone 1-2 form finish at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, but the mighty Holden squad can’t stop James Courtney from claiming the V8 Supercars Championship for Dick Johnson Racing – the seventh crown won by DJR, a record at the time.

2011

SEL divests its stake in V8 Supercars and the team owners sell down their holding with Australian Motor Racing Partners Pty Ltd (AMRP)  backed by Sydney-based private equity firm Archer Capital  purchasing 60 percent of V8 Supercars Holdings Pty Ltd, leaving the teams with approximately 40 percent via 28 Racing Entitlement Contracts. Cochrane remains Chairman with a stake in the new business and exits SEL.

2011

Triple Eight Race Engineering becomes the first team to clean sweep the three major crowns in the sport, in its second season after switching from Ford to Holden. It seals the Drivers’ Championship with Jamie Whincup, the Teams’ Championship and also the Fujitsu Series (now Dunlop Series) with Andrew Thompson.

Car of the Future plans are announced, with the prototype cars unveiled at the grand finale in Sydney by Mark Skaife and Neil Crompton. 

2012

Nissan announces it will join the V8 Supercars Championship in 2013 in partnership with Kelly Racing.

The 50th running of the Bathurst 1000 is won by TeamVodafone’s Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell by just 0.3 seconds over The Bottle-O’s David Reynolds/Dean Canto. 

2013

The new-generation Car of the Future V8 Supercars debut at the pre-season test day at Sydney Motorsport Park. Brad Jones Racing’s Jason Bright and Fabian Coulthard record the day’s fastest times, ahead of Craig Lowndes.

2013

Craig Lowndes beats Mark Skaife’s record of most V8 Supercar Championship race wins, notching up 91 at Barbagallo Raceway in his #888 Red Bull Racing Commodore.

V8 Supercars race in the USA for the first time, with Jamie Whincup winning the Austin 400, comprised of four 100km sprints at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Ford Performance Racing wins its first Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Mark Winterbottom (paired with Steve Richards) crossing the line just 0.4sec ahead of Whincup (paired with Paul Dumbrell). Ford announces a one-year renewal backing the squad. 

Winning the title from three other possible contenders in Lowndes, Will Davison and Winterbottom, Whincup ties with the all-time greats on five V8 Supercars Championship titles, equaling Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife. 

2014

It is announced Team Penske would enter the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship by combining forces with Dick Johnson Racing, with two-time Champion Marcos Ambrose returning to the category to pilot the Ford Falcon.

Details later emerge that Ambrose will debut in the new generation V8 Supercar as a wildcard at the grand finale in Sydney in December, with testing prior to the event. 

V8 Supercars announces plans are underway for the Gen II Supercar to compete in the Championship from 2017, as the ‘white paper’ detailing the sport’s future is signed off by team owners. 

2014 

On Volvo’s first race day in Supercars, Scott McLaughlin finishes second in the second race of the season opening Clipsal 500. He made ‘give it some jandal’ a household expression with his colourful post-race interview.

The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is called one of history’s best, as second-time starter Chaz Mostert wins with colourful veteran Paul Morris. The FPR Falcon sprinted from last on the grid and overcame an accident at turn two to take the lead on the final lap, as Jamie Whincup failed to conserve fuel and couldn’t keep Mostert at bay.

It was back-to-back Bathursts for the factory Ford team, with Nissan second. The eight-hour thriller was red flagged with 101 laps to go so part of the track could be fixed after breaking up. 

Whincup enters the record books once again by becoming the first V8 Supercars driver in history to win six V8 Supercars Championships. V8 Supercars also welcomes Mark Skaife to the grid of champions as the 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.

2015

Craig Lowndes becomes the first driver in history to earn 100 V8 Supercars race wins, in Darwin. Incredibly, the victory was the 888th race in Championship history. Lowndes also takes his sixth Bathurst 1000 victory, with Steven Richards.

Mark Winterbottom holds off Lowndes and wins his maiden V8 Supercars Championship, ending Jamie Whincup’s four-year dominance of the title and taking the #1 to Prodrive Racing Australia for 2016. V8 Supercars also welcomes Garry Rogers to the grid of champions as the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee.

2016

Virgin Australia enters into a major partnership with V8 Supercars and the championship is renamed to the ‘Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’.

Shane van Gisbergen joins an expanded Triple Eight Race Engineering, joining Jamie Whincup in Red Bull colours as Craig Lowndes shifts to Caltex backing. Van Gisbergen wastes little time, winning his maiden championship.

Will Davison and Jonathon Webb win a controversial Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 after Whincup crosses the line first but falls down the order, penalised for a late clash with Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin and the Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander.

Whincup does, though, join Lowndes as 100-time Supercars race winner, at Sydney Motorsport Park.

2017

Factory Holden backing moves from Walkinshaw Racing to Triple Eight’s rebranded Red Bull Holden Racing Team, which takes Jamie Whincup to a record-extending seventh championship.

Whincup wins the crown in a dramatic finale at the maiden Coates Hire Newcastle 500, as Scott McLaughlin falls just short in a successful first season with Shell V-Power Racing.

DJR Team Penske does, though win the teams’ championship, and McLaughlin writes his name in Supercars history with a stunning 2:03.8312s lap of Mount Panorama in the Top 10 Shootout to take pole for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. It is one of a record 16 ARMOR ALL Pole Awards the Kiwi takes during the year.

Erebus Motorsport, in just its second season with Holdens, wins the Great Race with eventual Barry Sheene Medalist David Reynolds and Luke Youlden.

2018

Holden’s new ZB Commodore becomes the first Supercar built to the new Gen2 rules package, and the maiden hatchback on the grid.

Two rounds will be held in South Australia for the first time since 1977, as the new Bend Motorsport Park facility joins the season-opening Adelaide 500 on the calendar.

Night racing also returns to Australia for the first time in more than two decades, at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter