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Half a century racing at Wanneroo

Wanneroo Raceway has provided many memorable moments in its 50 year history of holding an Australian Touring Car Championship event.

From the first season of Group C, to the maiden appearance of Gen3, the West has always provided action and a loyal following from its supporters.

The Repco Garage reflects on some a memorable moment representing each decade encapsulating the drama occurring at Wanneroo.

The first visit – 1973

Wanneroo Raceway was first included on the Australian Touring Car Championship calendar in 1973, the first season of Group C regulations.

Allan Moffat and Peter Brock were in the midst of a closely fought title battle, but the Ford driver held the ascendency by completing a clean-sweep of victories up to Round 4.

Brock started from pole, but was swamped off the start to allow Moffat into the lead in the big XY GT-HO. Building a margin to the chasing pack, the Canadian struggled with tyres all weekend and the he was not immune during the race.

Charging back to second was the Holden’s hero and by the last lap he was all over the back of Moffat, but a robust defence ensure the Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III greeted the chequered flag first.

The pit stop – 1983

Moffat is once again featured in a memory, however now a Mazda driver and a significant horsepower disadvantage compared to his V8 competitors a nifty piece of strategy took place.

Masterminded by Team Manager Allan Horsley to combat the climb up the hill at Wanneroo and inspired by Formula 1, Moffat’s crew filled his RX-7 half full of petrol. The advantage gained by running a lighter weight set-up victory for Moffat at an otherwise unfriendly circuit for the Japanese buzz box.

Moffat went on to seal his fourth and final Australian Touring Car Championship.

A young gun arrives – 1991

Ford Sierras had grown to dominate the Australian Touring Car Championship during the late-1980s and somewhat into 1990, but Jim Richards in the underdog Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R managed to seal the title.

However, Richards didn’t complete the season in the HR31 GTS-R, but rather in its successor the GT-R developed by young teammate Mark Skaife.

The arrival of Alan Heaphy at the end of 1990 also aided in producing a touring car, which was almost unbeatable earning the nickname ‘Godzilla’.

Skaife got his reward for all of his hard toil during season 1990 when he took his maiden round win at Wanneroo Raceway in 1991. Round 3 of the championship and the writing was already on the wall for the GT-R’s rivals as Richards took two wins, with Skaife right behind.

This time out West the positions were reversed and it was Skaife enjoying the spoils.

A rivalry heats up – 2005

Skaife was now a bona fide star of the sport having won five Australian Touring Car Championships, but a Ford driver was aiming to take that mantle in the form of Stone Brothers Racing’s Marcos Ambrose.

The rivalry had been heated for a while as the Ford star took back-to-back titles and was preparing for a career in NASCAR in 2006.

There was contact during Race 1, but the next event was where the major fisticuffs occurred.

Skaife made a poor jump off pole compared to Ambrose as the Pirtek Falcon squeezed the Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore approaching Turn 1, with contact a mere formality.

The end result was Skaife finished in the sand trap and Ambrose continued to finish fifth.

More was to come at the next round….

The fireball – 2011

A stall for Karl Reindler in the Fair Dinkum Sheds/Brad Jones Racing Holden Commodore ended in a dramatic fireball not witnessed in Supercars racing for some time.

Reindler stalled on the grid and an unsighted Steve Owen in the VIP Petfood/Paul Morris Motorsport Commodore smashed into the rear resulting in a massive fireball spreading across the track.

Owen was unable to react due to following David Reynolds closely, who miraculously didn’t hit the stranded Reindler Commodore.

This incident led to many changes initiated within the design of a Supercar, mainly in positioning of the fuel tank forward of the rear axle.

The return – 2022

After two years of missing Supercars action, Wanneroo Raceway returned to the calendar and proved spectacular nonetheless.

The Perth SuperNight weekend was well attended as Shane van Gisbergen continued to march towards the title, but had opposition from Will Davison of Shell V-Power Racing.

A collision between Scott Pye and Jack Le Brocq highlighted the weekend as it continued a tough start to the season for Team 18.

Pye was uninjured, but the team’s Holden ZB Commodore was severely damaged.