Blast from the past: the very first Winton winner

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/05/2021
  • By James Pavey, Pic by AN1 Images

Next weekend’s Winton SuperSprint marks the 33rd ATCC/Supercars event to be held at the rural Victorian circuit.

In 66 races, Ford leads the way with 29 wins to Holden’s 27.

However, the first two visits to the circuit were dominated by one man and his BMW.

In 1985, triple Bathurst winner Jim Richards kicked off the first year of the Group A era with victory driving a 3.5-litre 6 cyl BMW 635 CSi entered by JPS Team BMW, which was run by the late Frank Gardner.

WATCH: SEVEN FIERCE MOMENTS IN WINTON HISTORY

The maiden Winton event in February 1985 created history when, for the first time since the ATCC was first held in 1960, no Holden was on the grid.

Richards won by over a lap from teammate and countryman Neville Crichton.

Just 15 cars competed in a 50-lap race in warm conditions, with Richards a comfortable winner in the hour-long race.

It was the first ever ATCC race win by a BMW, and the first ATCC round win by a European car since Jim McKeown won the seventh and final round of the 1970 season at Symmons Plains in a Porsche 911S.

Richards was one of only two drivers, Toyota’s John Smith being the other, to finish each round of the series.

The legendary New Zealander, who went on to win four more Bathurst classics, finished on the podium in nine of 10 rounds in 1985.

Richards, who is the fourth-winningest Kiwi in ATCC/Supercars history, won six on the trot at Wanneroo Raceway, Adelaide International Raceway, Calder Park, Surfers Paradise, Lakeside and Amaroo.

The 1985 season was a remarkable one for Richards and his team; he also won the Australian Endurance Championship and the AMSCAR Series title.

The separate endurance championship was run after the sprint rounds which made up the ATCC season.

Richards was again a force, winning a 300-kilometre race at Amaroo, a 250-kilometre race at Oran Park, before combining with Tony Longhurst to win the Castrol 500 at Sandown.

He finished fourth at Bathurst, recovering from an early incident at Hell Corner where both JPS BMWs fell off the track, before winning the finale at Surfers Paradise.

The following season wasn’t as strong for Richards, who finished third behind countryman Robbie Francevic, who won the first and only title for Volvo.

However, with the #1 on the door, Richards went back-to-back at Winton, winning the penultimate round from series runner-up George Fury and Francevic.

The 1986 result marked the first of three Winton events where the winner failed to win the season title. That has happened 18 times in 32 visits to the circuit, including five of the last seven.

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria for the Winton SuperSprint across May 28-30. Tickets are available here.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus. Check out the weekend schedule here.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Repco Supercars Championship Newsletter