DOCUMENTS unearthed by V8 Sleuth show Advantage International formulated serious plans in an attempt to restructure and take over the promotion and marketing of Group A touring car racing in Australia 30 years ago.
This was some six or so years before IMG ended up coming to a similar arrangement in 1996 with the team owner’s group, albeit also including holding equity in AVESCO (Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company) and turning the sport into V8 Supercars.
Correspondence from August 1989 unearthed by v8sleuth.com.au that shows Advantage proposed a re-structure of Group A Australian touring car racing and for it to work for the entrant’s group for the “growth and development of Group A racing”.
The letter draft proposal was sent as part of further correspondence to the touring car teams at the time that made up ATCEA (the Australian Touring Car Entrants Association), the fore runner to TEGA, and came from Advantage International director Steve Frazer.
In the letter Frazer outlined a range of elements, including incorporating the endurance races into the championship with four endurance races (at Sandown, Queensland’s Darlington Park, Bathurst and Phillip Island) and eight sprint rounds mooted for the 1991 season.
Under the terms of the proposal, Advantage outlined it would handle the areas of naming rights sponsorship for the championship, television rights negotiation (which at the time was done by CAMS) and event organiser and promotor negotiations.
It clearly stated in its draft proposal that the naming rights sponsor for the series “will not be able to also run a race team”, a clear reference to Shell, who by late 1989 were in their third year of sponsorship of both the Australian Touring Car Championship and Dick Johnson’s two-car Sierra team.
Its vision also included $25,000 prizemoney to the winner of each event with $100,000 to the champion as part of a $500,000 prize pool.
In relation to the television arrangement it also made the recommendation that each Association member commit a minimum of $100,000 in direct television advertising buy to the appointed network.
ATCEA’s Tony Noske wrote to team owners, strongly advising that the proposal be treated in the strictest of confidences as the Association did not want the media or CAMS to get hold of it prior to Bathurst “as the publicity would severely damage our efforts to make this year’s race controversy free”.
He also wrote the “draft proposal has a lot of merit although there is no doubt a lot of discussion needs to go into it before a proper proposal could be considered.”
Clearly, the plan never came to fruition in that period, however some extra insight from the players of the time would one day make for interesting reading.
Advantage ended up involved in the sport via its management of Peter Brock. It looked after Brock’s racing affairs and ran its Advantage Racing Mobil 1 Commodore program over 1992 and 1993 before Brock and Mobil joined the Holden Racing Team in 1994 and the Advantage team was shut down.
Advantage also promoted the 1998 Round Australia Trial and went on to run the Australian Safari and Targa Tasmania after it became known as Octagon.
The organisation ran the 1999 Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst ’99 event at Mount Panorama in October of that year and launched the short-lived Future Tourers category in March 2000.
That Bathurst ’99 event is available on DVD via our friends at CMS Motorsport here.