THE 1990s was a decade of change for Australia’s ‘Great Race’, the Bathurst 1000.
International Group A gave way to the five-litre Falcon versus Commodore formula in 1993, before a political war resulted in two-litre Super Tourers taking over the event four years later.
That famously resulted in the newly minted V8 Supercars business creating a second Bathurst 1000, which by the end of the decade was the only one still standing.
All 12 Bathurst 1000s held during this divisive decade, and the 1999 500km Super Touring race, are featured in our upcoming book, Bathurst Every Car, The Photographic History 1990-1999.
More information and how to pre-order this new publication is available in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.
Setting aside the politics, the 1990s featured some of the most thrilling Bathurst 1000s ever. To celebrate the upcoming book release, we rank the five best.
5) 1998 AMP Bathurst 1000
The two Super Touring races failed to capture the imagination of the Australian public like their V8 Supercars counterparts, but the fact remains that they were both cracking contests.
Although it didn’t have as strong a line-up of international factory entries as the previous year, the 1998 race proved you only need two front-running cars to have a great race, and this one came with a brilliant storyline.
Father and son Jim and Steven Richards lined up on the front-row for Volvo and Nissan respectively and ably backed up by co-drivers Rickard Rydell and Matt Neal, traded the lead all day before the S40 won out.
4) 1993 Tooheys 1000
The 1993 Tooheys 1000 was a somewhat similar story; two cars going at it for over six-hours on Sunday, exchanging the lead throughout the 161-lap journey until a clear winner shook-out in the dying stages.
In some ways it failed to live up to its billing, as it was not the Holden versus Ford fight that the new rules promised to bring, but Larry Perkins’ defeat of the big-budget Winfield team was a brilliant plot of its own.
Perkins and co-driver Gregg Hansford prevailed after the ‘Prince of the Privateers’ stuck with the Holden V8, rather than adopting the new Chevrolet; a technical masterstroke in an era that brought increasing uniformity.
3) 1990 Tooheys 1000
The biggest upset win of the decade arguably came in its first year, as the Holden Racing Team’s Commodore VL out-lasted the hordes of Ford Sierra and Nissan’s rapid new GT-R to take a famous win.
Sierras won the previous two Bathursts but fell one-by-one in 1990. The final hope for Ford fans, the #18 Dick Johnson Racing entry, was ultimately delayed at its final pitstop by what was later admitted as sabotage!
Larry Perkins’ privateer Commodore was also in the hunt and arguably denied the win by a cruelly timed Safety Car, but in the end it was a popular triumph for Allan Grice, Win Percy and HRT.
2) 1995 Tooheys 1000
Whether you believe this race should be #1 or #2 on this list may depend on whether your heart bleeds red or blue!
Perkins and Russell Ingall’s victory in 1995 after a first-lap contact that punctured a tyre and soon put them a lap down is arguably the race’s greatest ever comeback story.
Ford hero Glenn Seton’s tale of defeat was equally extreme, having survived a mid-race clash with arch-rival John Bowe only to have his engine expire while leading nine laps from home.
1) 1994 Tooheys 1000
Our pick though for the best race of the 1990s is the previous year’s seven-hour epic that broke a five-year win drought for Ford and its legendary pairing Dick Johnson and John Bowe.
This race had it all; a wet start in which legends including Perkins, Peter Brock and Alan Jones slid their way around the Mountain as they took turns in the lead, and a grandstand finish in which a new star was born.
That was of course 20-year-old Brock protege Craig Lowndes, who shocked Bowe by taking the ascendancy with an outside pass in the final stint, only to lose out in traffic three laps later and come home second.
Full broadcasts of the 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Bathurst 1000s are available on DVD in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop, alongside highlights of the 1997/98 Super Touring events.