BREAKTHROUGHS AND BINGLES: ADELAIDE’S FORGOTTEN BATTLES

John Bowe took a memorable win in 1994. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

YEARS before the inaugural Adelaide 500 raised the bar for V8 Supercars events in 1999, touring car racing was a mainstay of the city’s Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends.

The tin-tops turned out as a support act for every AGP in Adelaide from 1985 to 1995; the first event even featured a then current F1 star – Austrian Gerhard Berger – on the grid!

Adelaide’s AGP-era touring car races provided a stack of significant moments, but as they occurred in the shadow of the F1 race and were not part of the ATCC, they have been largely lost in history… until now!

V8 Sleuth’s new book, Sensational Adelaide: An Illustrated History of the Adelaide 500, includes a 14-page prelude chapter capturing the touring car races from 1985-1995.

Limited to just 1200 copies, the special collector’s edition book features an image of every car to compete in the Adelaide 500 and is now available for purchase in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.

To mark the book’s release, we’re celebrating five memorable victories from Adelaide’s overlooked Australian Grand Prix-era touring car history.

Mustang’s moment

Johnson on his way to victory in 1985. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

The Ford Mustang Supercar’s winning debut at the 2019 Adelaide 500 came at the same venue in which Dick Johnson scored a breakthrough win for the nameplate 34 years earlier.

Johnson’s win in the 1985 AGP support race proved the only triumph for the ‘Fox Body’ model in the two years it was campaigned throughout Australia by the Queenslander.

Commodore country

Hulme and Perkins swapped the lead before the boss eventually prevailed! Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

Searing heat on Grand Prix weekend in Adelaide in 1988 halted the turbocharged Ford Sierra’s domination of Australian touring car racing in dramatic fashion.

Larry Perkins and Denny Hulme stormed to a popular one-two aboard their Holden Special Vehicles-backed Commodores after key Ford runners fell by the wayside.

The lone ranger

Richards leads John Bowe in 1992. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

Jim Richards was the winningest touring car driver in Adelaide, scoring five wins between 1990-92 in the dominant Nissan GT-R, including sweeps of both races in ’91 and ’92.

Godzilla’s debut in Adelaide in 1990 though had been a mixed affair; Mark Skaife wrote-off his GT-R in a qualifying crash and Richards struck mechanical trouble in Race 2.

Wayne’s World

Garder scored the Sunday win in 1993. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

The debut of the five-litre V8 era cars in Adelaide in 1992 proved expensive as Glenn Seton and Peter Brock suffered heavy crashes in their brand-new cars.

There was plenty more chaos when a full pack of V8s arrived in 1993, but through it all came Wayne Gardner, who shed his reputation to take a win in his final start for the Holden Racing Team.

An all-time battle

John Bowe and Larry Perkins on the podium in Adelaide in 1994. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

A wet Saturday in 1994 provided the stage for one of the most thrilling Australian touring car races of all time.

John Bowe fended off Larry Perkins for victory in a tense last lap scrap after the Castrol Commodore driver charged from ninth on the grid.