October 4, 2016 | General


THIS WEEKEND will be a delight for fans of classic Muscle Car racing thanks to the Wilson Trans-Tasman Challenge.

A full grid of muscle cars will be on track at Mount Panorama and it should be a sight for the ages.

Click through to get the rundown on some of the key facts stats and info ahead of the big weekend.

Stay tuned to for more info on some of the key Kiwi challengers tomorrow – and the first photos from the Mountain!


26 cars have been shipped over from the land of the long white cloud to come and play at Bathurst this weekend. The cars were loaded into the containers in early September – big excersise to get them to Australia.

The Central Muscle Cars join the Touring Car Masters this weekend to field a grid of more than 50 Muscle Cars – most of them V8’s. It’s not the first time they’ve been to Australia either – several starring performances at Muscle Car Masters have been a highlight of that event in previous years.

Formed in 2003 the category has exploded in popularity in New Zealand thanks to its mix of Australian and US Muscle Cars made between 1958 and the early 1980s.

The Group 1 cars are the outright quickest machinery and feature wild bodywork and big capacity engines – a lot of them over 400 cubic inches plus bigger (17â€Âx11â€Â) wheels larger front spoilers and wheel flares.  

Think of them as a bit like 1970s specification Sports Sedans and you get a bit of a feel for them.

Group 2 cars are closer to the specification you’d see in Historic Touring Cars: aimed at the purist racer the Group 2 cars retain their heritage style and slightly more subtle powertrains akin to what they utilised back in the day.

For this weekend the CMC cars will run to TCM technical specifications in terms of the revs allowed: Cars over 5201ccs will be restricted to 7500RPM while smaller capacity cars can rev out to 8000.

The Race one grid will be based purely on qualifying times set in Friday morning’s qualifying session.

Race two – the Waeco / Dometic Trophy Race – will see between 45-55% of the field from qualifying reversed and sent to the back of the field. Watch for a mixed up order in this one!

Race three will be a progressive grid from the finishing order of race one – however will see the TCM cars line up on one side of the grid and CMC cars on the other. Aussies v Kiwi’s at their finest!

Due to the special event nature of the weekend all TCM competitors will get 10 points for starting and 10 for finishing each race.

Each race starts with a rolling start and will each run for 6 laps.


THE Touring Car Masters have visited Mount Panorama on eight occasions with the series’ making its debut there in 2007 and racing there every year since except for 2008.

TCM at Bathurst has tended to offer success to those who have had prior experience at the Mountain in the Bathurst 1000 in particular. From the eight rounds contested six have been won by former Bathurst 1000 competitors and four by drivers to have won the great race.

John Bowe and Jim Richards have two Bathurst TCM victories each while Glenn Seton and Greg Crick have one each. Bucking the trend Steve Mason in 2007 and Brad Tilley in 2012 are the others to have achieved success.

The old adage ‘there’s no substitute for cubic inches’ holds sway at Bathurst – though that’s not to say the cars with smaller engines haven’t performed well there.

John Bowe won with his five-litre Torana last year while Jim Richards’ pair of victories in 2009 and 2010 came in his 289-ci powered Ford Falcon Sprint.

Of the current TCM field Keith Kassulke Eddie Abelnica and Brett Youlden have each stood on the Bathurst TCM round podium twice without able to quite crack it for the round victory.

11 different drivers have won the 24 races contested at Bathurst over the years with John Bowe (6) Jim Richards (3) and double champion Gavin Bullas (3) holding a lion’s share of those wins.

Andrew Miedecke Brad Tilley Eddie Abelnica and Steve Mason each have two race wins at Bathurst while Glenn Seton Greg Crick Leanne Tander and Steven Johnson – last year – each with a single win.

Of active drivers Brett Youlden has two race top three finishes without a win while Adam Bressington and Keith Kassulke have finished within sight of the top spot but not quite got there. In total 19 different drivers have scored a top three race finish at Bathurst.

Eight different models from four different brands (Holden Ford Chevrolet and Chrysler) have taken the 24 race wins between them. Ford has 17 Bathurst wins (8 of them to the Mustang) while Chevrolet has 4. Holden got their first TCM Bathurst success last year incidentally thanks to John Bowe’s first two wins in the Torana while Greg Crick’s epic victory two years ago gave Chrysler some long-awaited Mountain mastery.

Qualifying at Bathurst has perhaps given the best indication of the rate of development in TCM machinery over the years.

In nine visits the pole position time has dropped by an incredible 12.17 seconds – or an average rate of 1.5 seconds per year!

Gavin Bullas scored the first ever Bathurst TCM pole with a 2m30.3326s lap while last year Steve Johnson stormed to the top spot in qualifying with a stunning 2m18.1606s lap. Jim Richards and John Bowe have two poles each at Bathurst while Gavin Bullas Andrew Miedecke Glenn Seton and Steven Johnson have one each.

Ford have scored seven of the eight available Bathurst pole positions – Miedecke’s Camaro pole in 2011 the only non-Ford to do the job.


IT HAS been well documented how competitive this year’s Touring Car Masters season has already been.

A record nine different race winners from eighteen races so far has been a highlight as has been the number of first time winners (Ritter Garwood Fisher and Mercer).

Chevrolet Ford AMC and Holden have each scored a win as has six different models of car.

At Phillip Island last time out Eddie Abelnica added his name to the list and ended a 60-plus race streak without a victory in stunning fashion.


JOHN BOWE and Steven Johnson traded blows at Bathurst last year but in the end it was Bowe who got the better of his old teammate with two wins to Johnson’s one.

Eddie Abelnica finished third in all three races and also clocked the quickest recorded speed down Conrod straight at a stunning 284km/hr!.