Next weekend at Sandown marks an important milestone in Australian touring car racing history with the 25th anniversary of the debut of the cars that became what we know today as Supercars.
It was back in September 1992 that three of the new-for-1993 race cars - featuring wing kits and 7500rpm rev-limited V8 engines - were wheeled out for that year’s Drink Drive 500 at Sandown.
The Holden Racing Team had taken two of its existing VN Group A Commodores from VN to VP specification complete with Chevrolet engines, but Ford fans were stoked to see Glenn Seton give the Falcon V8 its return to Aussie touring car racing eight years after a Falcon had last appeared on the grid.
Seton had set up his own team in 1989 after departing Fred Gibson’s factory Nissan squad. With the backing of the Phillip Morris cigarette company, he had turned his team into a competitive outfit that claimed the Australian Endurance Championship in 1990, winning the Sandown 500 that year in a Sierra alongside George Fury.
When the decision was made by rule makers to revert to a V8 Falcon and Commodore category for 1993, Seton was one of the first to commit to the brand new rules.
His team put together its very first Falcon EB race car - chassis GSR1 - during the 1992 season as he and his squad continued to run a pair of Sierras in the Australian Touring Car Championship with Seton and Wayne Park driving.
Testing was conducted of the new Ford during that season and the car made its first public appearance at the Tooheys 1000 Media Day at Bathurst in August with Seton at the wheel before he and new team signing Alan Jones (who had left Tony Longhurst’s BMW team after the sprint series was complete) gave the car its race debut in the Drink Drive 500 at Sandown.
The brand new car was the very first of the new Falcon V8s to make its racing debut, beating Dick Johnson Racing’s new Shell Falcon EB to make its first competition appearance.
Seton qualified the new car sixth on the grid at Sandown however brake problems meant it completed very few laps in the race - just 18 in fact - before it was retired.
Things went better for this chassis at Bathurst, the first V8 Falcon to race in the Bathurst 1000 since 1984 and one of four new 1993-spec cars entered in the race in its own ‘Division 3’ class alongside a pair of Holden Racing Team Commodore VPs and Peter Brock’s Mobil/Advantage Racing entry.
Seton qualified an impressive fourth in the Top 10 Shootout among the turbo cars and Larry Perkins’ well-sorted VL Commodore, though he and Jones were again retirements from the race, this time due to a failed fuel pump. There was no spare, so the car’s day was done after 84 laps.
GSR1 made just one more racing appearance at the season-ending Adelaide Grand Prix meeting, though Seton crashed it in the Victoria Park section of the track and that was the end of the line for this history-making Ford race car.
He and Johnson’s new Shell Falcon (which had been built up quickly given his first Falcon was not permitted to race by the rule makers) had been excluded from qualifying and forced to start from the rear of the grid due to issues relating to the homologation date, rear bumper and aerodynamic kit, however Seton was in the fence and done within four laps.
The team did not bother to repair this car and instead focused on producing a pair of new cars for 1993, leaving GSR1 to be taken to the scrapheap.
It was a sad way for it to finish its brief competition life, though it had paved the way perfectly for the cars that followed from the Glenn Seton Racing workshop.
Seton went on to win the 1993 and 1997 championships and his GSR team built another seven Falcons under the GSR banner along the way, not to mention another four more under the Ford Tickford Racing moniker.
He was inducted into the Supercars Hall of Fame back in 2011.
Saturday Sleuthing will take a break next weekend for the Wilson Security Sandown 500 but will return on Saturday September 23 with another story on a car from racing history.
If you have a car you’d like to see featured by our V8 Sleuth this year, send him an email here or visit the website here to get in contact.