It was a big year in Supercars, with 2023 seeing new names, new teams and big crowds lead the way to dawn a new era.
Over 12 rounds, there were plenty of shocks, while there were even more headlines off track as a chaotic silly season unfolded.
In the wake of a monster season, Supercars.com highlights five key takeaways from the season that was.
The new wave has arrived
2023 was the year the next generation put their collective hand up to steer Supercars into a new era. While the early headlines were about the new cars, the young crop stole the show this year, with 20 of 28 races won by drivers aged under 30.
Brodie Kostecki led the way with his title, 21-year-olds Broc Feeney and Matt Payne took big wins, and Will Brown won four races of his own. Then, there’s Cam Waters and Anton De Pasquale, who also returned to victory lane.
Only six drivers — Craig Lowndes, Rick Kelly, Mark Skaife, Ian Geoghegan, Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup — were younger than Kostecki when they won their first titles.
And don't forget, there's a serious crop of young talent already in waiting in the Dunlop Series, with the likes of Kai Allen and Cooper Murray knocking on the door, Ryan Wood jumping into the main game, Cameron McLeod and Jobe Stewart dominating Super3, and Zak Best reestablishing himself as a driver to watch.
Erebus is the real deal
After years knocking on the door of Supercars’ elite, Erebus Motorsport flew out of the blocks in the first season of the Gen3 era. In years gone by, Erebus had managed to land some big blows, but were unable to go all rounds.
In 2023, the team led the way in the races and in qualifying — winning 10 races and taking 14 poles — and staved off a mighty challenge by Triple Eight to win both championships.
Gone were the pit stop blunders and inconsistencies, replaced by steely resolve and a fighter’s will coupled with raw pace. These titles were no fluke, although the bigger challenge is relating the dose in 2024.
New car got teams in the game
‘P’ word aside, all teams had highlight moments with the new Gen3 cars. In fact, all 11 teams managed at least one top four finish, and nine of 11 scored at least one podium.
In 28 races, 10 different drivers and seven different teams tasted victory — and that’s despite Erebus and Triple Eight combining to win 20 of the season's 28 races!
Only five seasons in the 64-year history of the championship have produced more different winners. The 2000 and 2013 seasons had 13 different winners, with the 2001, 2014 and 2016 seasons producing 11 different winners.
Silly season shocks
If there was one thing to take out of the latest silly season, it’s expect the unexpected. After a relatively quiet driver market last year, this year saw things hit a new level as drivers changed places, some even ending contracts early to go elsewhere.
The key headline was Will Brown’s defection from Erebus to Triple Eight, replacing NASCAR-bound Shane van Gisbergen. Brown had a year left on his Erebus contract, but sought a release to head to Triple Eight.
Jack Le Brocq left Matt Stone Racing to replace Brown, and David Reynolds departed Penrite Racing for Team 18, despite both drivers winning races for their respective 2023 squads.
Should some teams fly out of the blocks and vacancies emerge, expect more movement next year.
Big year, bigger crowds
Massive crowds flocked to races in 2023, with a number of events hitting new heights as fans welcomed the new era.
The year kicked off with 167,197 in Newcastle, which was the event’s second-biggest crowd ever. Perth was nearly 12,000 up on its 2022 crowd, Darwin recorded its biggest Friday ever amid a 42,000 event turnout, and Sydney recorded in its biggest night race crowd since it brought in permanent lighting in 2018.
The Bend, which will return with an enduro in 2025, also recorded its biggest crowd since the inaugural OTR SuperSprint in 2018. The year rounded out with three consecutive 200,000-plus events, with Bathurst turning in its third biggest crowd ever, Gold Coast its biggest, and Adelaide a whopping 260,700.
The return of the Sandown 500 saw the biggest attendance of an event at the historic circuit since 2016, with a greater turnout expected for 2024, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Sandown 500 and the 50th outright running of the race.
In all, the 11 Supercars events outside the Australian Grand Prix — which recorded over 440,000 fans — drew a combined 1.22 million people. Next year, New Zealand returns to the calendar, with the inaugural round in Taupō in high demand.
Add to that, the biggest ever three-day crowd for a Bathurst 12 Hour, with the 2023 event — at 53,446 — 24 per cent higher than the previous record for a three-day event.