AN AUSTRALIAN Touring Car Championship round with no Holdens.
It’s motorsport’s equivalent of a pub with no beer and will take some getting used to in 2023, when the brand – dead since the end of 2020 – is replaced in Australia’s top-tier series by Chevrolet.
Ahead of the start of the final season in which Holdens take part, there have been 579 ATCC/Supercars rounds held and just one of those took place without any Holden representation.
That occurred on February 10, 1985, when the first ATCC season run under international Group A regulations kicked off at Winton in northern Victoria.
Although 21 VK Commodores fronted for the Bathurst 1000 that October, not even Peter Brock’s Holden Dealer Team was at Winton for the ATCC opener.
The HDT had suffered significant engine problems with its new Group A racer during the summer’s Wellington and Pukekohe enduros.
The latter was held just a week before Winton and Brock elected to skip the ATCC event, instead debuting his team’s big new Mobil deal at Round 2 with a better sorted package.
That left Winton with a 15-car grid featuring seven marques, but no Holdens.
JPS Team BMW’s Jim Richards won by over a lap in Brock’s absence, leading home teammate Neville Crichton, Kevin Bartlett (Mitsubishi Starion), Alan Jones (Alfa GTV6) and Brian Sampson (Starion).
Dick Johnson qualified second to Richards but was not classified as a finisher after his new Ford Mustang ran into overheating trouble in the race.
Other manufacturers represented were Toyota, Volvo and Jaguar.
For the record, Brock and Holden made a winning return to the ATCC at Sandown’s Round 2 a fortnight later, where privateer Jim Keogh also campaigned a Commodore.
The missing races
Although Winton in 1985 was the only complete ATCC round without a Holden, there have been three other championship races with no Holdens on the grid.
Monaro-mounted Norm Beechey is deemed to have taken part in the Mallala round in 1969 but did not start the ATCC race after blowing his car’s engine in a preliminary heat.
The other two absences were quirks of the race formats used for the particular rounds.
Round 3 of the 1979 ATCC at Oran Park was split into separate races for Under 3-litre cars (which featured an Isuzu Gemini, but technically no Holdens) and Over 3-litre (where 15 of the 20 starters were Holdens).
Likewise, Round 1 of the 1993 ATCC at Amaroo Park featured split races for the Under and over 2-litre classes (the former with no Holdens and the latter with 14) before an all-in final.
The 2022 Repco Supercars Championship grid is split into 16 Holden Commodores and nine Ford Mustangs, the ‘Blue Oval’ gaining one representative since last season due to Tickford Racing’s expansion.