Privateers provided the backbone of Australian touring car racing up until the early 2000s when grids in excess of 40 entries were consistent and AVESCO elected to turn Supercars into a professional category.
Memories of privateers punching above their weight feature throughout the history of Australian touring car racing and at Bathurst. To highlight this, the Repco Garage is acknowledging five of the best privateer teams.
- Lansvale Smash Repairs
Trevor Ashby and Steve Reed enjoyed 16-year record at The Great Race finishing a best of 10th in the World Touring Car Championship edition of 1987. Winning the Castrol Clash non-championship event this same year provided the team’s sole touring car win, although Ashby and Reed secured privateer heat victories throughout the 1990s in their familiar Dulux Autocolour Commodore. One of the privateer teams to continue into the V8 Supercar era, Lansvale was sold to Tasman Motorsport at the end of 2003.
- Murray Carter
Carrying through Series Production, Group C’s two iterations and Group A, Murray Carter was a flyer of the Blue Oval’s flag when nobody else did, not even Ford itself. From loaning Allan Moffat his Falcon at Adelaide in 1973 to homologating the XD Falcon in 1980 alongside Sydney privateer Garry Willmington at the insistence from Ford not too. Carter was a mainstay of Ford until turning to Mazda then Nissan when Group A was introduced. Carter did return to a Ford during the latter 1980s when the Sierra Cosworth RS500 dominated. Carter moved to production cars in the 1990s and still raced up until 2016 at the age of 85.
- Terry Finnigan
Much like the Lansvale team Terry Finnigan was a Sydney privateer loyal to the Holden brand from racing Geminis early on in tiddler class battles to leading the way during AMSCAR events during the mid-1980s. Finnigan never really had the budget to take on the best guys, but when he did occasionally enjoy some extra coin it highlighted his competitiveness. Long associations with Triple M, Foodland and Sony at the end produced some of the best touring car liveries.
- Cameron McLean
The Queenslander won the Australian Sports Sedan Championship in an ex-Benson and Hedges BMW M3 in 1995 before switching to the Super Touring the next year. By the end of his stint in the category, he was knocking right on the door of the big budget factory BMW and Audi squads. Making the switch to Supercars afterwards effortlessly, McLean proved his pace with many top 10 finishes in the Greenfield Mowers Falcon in a time when it was getting tough for private entries.
- John Faulkner
A privateer making it into the Bathurst Top 10 Shootout. Really? Yep, New Zealand ex-pat John Faulkner had raced for the factory Toyota squad during the 1980s before making a name at the Calder Park Thunderdome during its heyday in both AUSCAR and NASCAR competition. Switching to touring cars in 1996, Faulkner emerged as one of the leading privateers heading into the new millennium as he struggled for budget. A highlight during his last season was qualifying fourth at Eastern Creek in the smart Dynapack liveried VX Commodore.
Honourable mentions: Paul Romano, Garry Willmington, Bill O’Brien, the Lustys, the Gulsons, Bob Pearson, John Cotter and Peter Doulman, John Trimbole, Peter McLeod and too many more to list