The 1983 Australian Touring Car Championship was a CAMS sanctioned motor racing title for drivers of Group C Touring Cars. The title, which was the 24th Australian Touring Car Championship, was contested over a series which began on 6 February 1983 at Calder Park Raceway and ended on 19 June at Lakeside International Raceway after eight rounds.
The championship was won by Allan Moffat, his fourth and final Australian Touring Car Championship and a first for Mazda, who were helping to fund Moffat's team and it was also the first ATCC win for a Japanese manufacturer. Moffat himself dominated the racing, taking four out of the eight race wins, but a beneficial points structure for smaller capacity cars allowed George Fury (driving a turbocharged version of the Nissan Bluebird) to push Moffat all the way to the title, despite not actually winning a race. The folly in the point system was exposed at the first round at Calder when Moffat won the race from Fury, but Fury actually led the championship by finishing second outright in a smaller capacity car (Moffat scored 25 for winning while Fury scored 27 for finishing second). When Fury took the lead for a brief time at Calder, it was the first time that a turbo powered car had led an ATCC race.
Peter Brock in his Marlboro Holden Dealer Team VH Commodore SS finished third in the championship. Brock's early season form and some uncharacteristic reliability problems saw him lagging in ninth place at the midway point in the championship after failing to finish at Calder and Symmons Plains thanks to gearbox failure both times, while finishing third at Sandown and ninth at Wanneroo after spinning out of the lead in a dice with Moffat and Fury (Moffat's win at Wanneroo caused a sensation due to his Formula One style mid-race pit stop for fuel). Brock's championship got back on track with an all-the-way win in Adelaide where he won by the length of the Commodore's bumper bar from Moffat who actually got his Mazda in front 50 metres from the flag but lost out to the grunt of the more powerful V8 Commodore. From there he finished with two seconds and a win to round out the series.
Brock's win in the final round at Lakeside was easily one of the drives of the series. In difficult, wet conditions that actually suited the smaller RX-7's rather than the heavier Commodore's and Falcon's, he lapped the entire field in the 35 laps after taking the lead on lap 2. His race almost ended coming out of the Karrasell on the first lap when the left rear tyre of his Commodore got out into the mud and pitched the car sideways, almost into the path of Gregg Hansford in the second Allan Moffat Racing Mazda RX-7. Brock recovered still in 3rd place and soon past an ailing Dick Johnson whose Falcon had suffered a power steering pump failure on the grid which would cause his early retirement as he could not steer the car properly. Brock then passed early leader Moffat on lap 2 and proceeded to run away from the field. Hansford also overtook Moffat who was wisely driving with an eye on the title, but Brock lapped the #31 Mazda through the back section of the circuit on the last lap.
Moffat, Brock and Allan Grice (who won rounds 2 and 3 at Sandown and Symmons Plains in his new Roadways Racing Commodore before fading later in the series) were the only race winners in the 1983 ATCC. Defending champion Dick Johnson battled season long with an ill-handling Ford XE Falcon and could only manage two distant 3rd placings at both Sandown and Wanneroo (where he led for the only time in the series) to finish a disappointing 6th in the championship, 94 points behind Moffat. Johnson's 351cui, 5.8L V8 Falcon had the grunt, but not the handling to be a serious contender for the crown. It was only discovered before the final round at Lakeside that the problem with the Falcon's handling had been both a lack of rear tyres as well as the front suspension of the car.
Whilst Nissan driver George Fury, helped by consistent performances, led the series (uncorrected points) going into the final round at Lakeside, Fury was essentially 5 points behind Moffat in the points system corrected for the top 7 races, therefore Fury needed to finish ahead of Moffat or Moffat finish in 6th place or worse to claim the title. As Moffat had finished well ahead of Fury in all but the one race were the Mazda broke its axle, team manager Howard Marsden decided the team would skip the round as they were not in major contention to win the title (officially to further develop the car before Bathurst). Moffat finished the final race in 3rd position, behind Brock and teammate Gregg Hansford, claiming the 1983 ATCC 6 points ahead of Fury in second place.
Controversy also reigned throughout the series with some teams such as the MHDT (Brock) and STP Roadways (Grice) claiming that Moffat was foxing during the championship and not racing as fast as he could in an effort to 'hoodwink' CAMS into believing the RX-7's, which ran the 1.2 Litre 12A rotary engine in the championship, needed the larger and more powerful (by some 30 bhp (22 kW; 30 PS)) 1.3 Litre 13B engine to be competitive against the V8's at Bathurst. Ultimately CAMS approved the larger 13B engine for the RX-7's (as well as a late approval for fuel injection), but also granted concessions to the Commodore's and Falcons which ended up giving the bigger cars a speed advantage on the Mountain.
Controversially CAMS announced the concessions for the post-ATCC 1 August homologation during the race of Round 7 at Oran Park via the ABC's telecast of the race, with ABC commentators Will Hagon and John Smailes making the announcement mid-race. In a TV interview with Smailes immediately following his 2nd placing to Moffat, Peter Brock was informed of the new homologation's and expressed his displeasure with CAMS for announcing it on television during the race and not letting those who the decision affected (the teams) know first. The fallout from CAMS decision led to both the Nissan and Roadways teams boycotting the final race of the series at Lakeside, though the official reason given by Nissan team manager Howard Marsden was that the Bluebird's needed further development for the upcoming 1983 Australian Endurance Championship which included both blue ribbon events, the Sandown 400 and the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst.
Nissan's boycott of the last round also meant that series leader George Fury virtually forfeited his closest chance of winning an ATCC championship and becoming the only driver other than Colin Bond to win both the ATCC and the Australian Rally Championship with Fury previously having won the Rally title in both 1977 and 1980. Despite this it was generally felt that the championship went to the right driver as Moffat and his RX-7 were usually the fastest combination and the expat Canadian was regarded as the man to beat. Moffat only failed to finish once at Sandown (broken axle) and finished every other race on the podium, including four wins, four pole positions and five fastest laps resulting in new lap records at Sandown, Symmons Plains, Wanneroo, Surfers (shared with Brock) and Oran Park, while Fury's best were two seconds (Calder and Wanneroo) and one third at Symmons Plains. Also in each race that both Moffat and Fury finished, the Mazda finished ahead of the Nissan, making it fairly unlikely Fury would win the championship in the last round, unless Moffat suffered a breakdown or was involved in an accident, which if either occurred would've meant the Nissan would win the championship in any case, hence a rather pragmatic decision was made by the Nissan team not to compete at the last event.
One outcome from this series was that in the future turbocharged cars had their engine capacities multiplied for the purposes of class point score weightings, meaning that in the 1984 Australian Touring Car Championship, the Bluebird's would compete on an equal footing with the other outright class competitors (this actually took effect prior to the start of the 1983 Endurance Championship which started two months after the ATCC concluded). Despite this meaning that the Nissan would score equal points as the RX-7's, Commodore's and Falcons, Nissan team boss Howard Marsden raised no objections to the change as the 1.8 litre turbo had proven that it was able to match the speed of the outright class cars. Indeed, later in the year Fury would showcase the speed of the car, qualifying the Bluebird on the front row of the grid at Bathurst, traditionally the sole domain of the more powerful V8 powered cars.
Entrants and drivers
The following entrants and drivers competed in the 1983 Australian Touring Car Championship.
|Masterton Homes||Ford XE Falcon||2||Steve Masterton|
|Mike Burgmann||Chevrolet Camaro Z28||3||Mike Burgmann|
|Cadbury-Schweppes Racing||Holden VH Commodore SS||3||Peter Janson|
|STP Roadways Racing||Holden VH Commodore SS||4||Steve Harrington|
|Marlboro Holden Dealer Team||Holden VH Commodore SS||05||Peter Brock|
|Peter Brierley||Holden VH Commodore||7
|Garry Wilmington Performance||Ford XD Falcon||8||Garry Wilmington|
|Andrew Harris||Ford XE Falcon||9||Andrew Harris|
|Soundwave Discos||Holden VH Commodore SS||11|| Clive Benson-Brown|
|Team Toshiba||Holden VH Commodore SS||12||Jim Keogh|
|Bob Holden Motors||Ford Escort Mk.II||13||Bob Holden|
|John English||Ford XD Falcon||14||John English|
|Ken Hastings||Mazda RX-7||15||Ken Hastings|
|John Donnelly||Ford XD Falcon||15||John Donnelly|
|Terry Finnigan||Holden VH Commodore SS||15||Terry Finnigan|
|Rusty French||Holden VH Commodore SS||16||Rusty French|
|Re-Car Racing||Holden VH Commodore SS||16||Garry Rogers|
|Palmer Tube Mills||Ford XE Falcon||17||Dick Johnson|
|Murray Carter||Ford XE Falcon||18||Murray Carter|
|Gary Hinton||Holden VH Commodore SS||18||Gary Hinton|
|RJ Collins||Mazda RX-7||19||Les Verco|
|Ken Mathews||Holden VH Commodore SS||19||Ken Mathews|
|Warren Cullen Auto Salvage||Holden VH Commodore SS||22|| Warren Cullen|
|Frankie Saracino||Ford XD Falcon||25||Frankie Saracino|
|Everlast||Ford XD Falcon||26||Bill O'Brien|
|Bayside Spares||Holden VH Commodore SS||28||Barry Lawrence|
|Peter Stuyvesant International Racing||Mazda RX-7||31||Gregg Hansford|
|Bernie Parmenter||Ford Capri Mk.II||32||Bernie Parmenter|
|Lester Smerdon||Isuzu Gemini||33||Lester Smerdon|
|Eurocars (Northside) Pty. Ltd.||Mazda RX-7||37||Terry Shiel|
|Bernie Stack||Holden VH Commodore SS||38||Bernie Stack|
|Barry Jones||Mazda RX-7||41||Barry Jones|
|Ross Burbidge||Mazda RX-7||46||Ross Burbidge|
|Roger Manson Holden||Isuzu Gemini PF50||48||Roger Manson|
|Martin Power||Triumph Dolomite Sprint||49||Martin Power|
|David Parsons||Holden VH Commodore SS||50||David Parsons|
|Capri Components||Ford Capri Mk.III S||51
|Nissan Motorsport Australia||Nissan Bluebird Turbo||55||George Fury|
|Hulcraft Autos||Ford Capri Mk.III||56||John Craft|
|Graham Treasure||Ford XD Falcon||57||Graham Treasure|
|Mike Imrie||Ford XD Falcon||57||Mike Imrie|
|Beninca Motors||Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV||59||Peter Beninca|
|Petrolon Slick 50 Racing||Mazda RX-7||59
|Jim Faneco||Isuzu Gemini||60||Jim Faneco|
|Les Grose||Ford Capri Mk.III||64||Les Grose|
|John White||Isuzu Gemini||65||John White|
|Kevin Bartlett||Chevrolet Camaro Z28||66||Kevin Bartlett|
|Bob Thomas||Mazda RX-3||66||Bob Thomas|
|Alf Grant||Ford XD Falcon||71||Alf Grant|
|John Eaton||Holden VH Commodore||72||John Eaton|
|Graham Mein||Ford Escort Mk.II||77||Graham Mein|
|The Daily Planet||Toyota Celica||88||Craig Bradtke|
|Russell Worthington||Mazda 626||100||Russell Worthington|
Car competed in two classes,
- Up to and including 3000cc
The "Up to and including 3000cc class" consisted of Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Datsun Bluebird turbo, Ford Capri, Ford Escort, Isuzu Gemini, Mazda 626, Mazda RX-3, Toyota Celica and Triumph Dolomite Sprint.
The "3001-6000cc class" consisted of Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore and Mazda RX-7.
Championship points were awarded on a two tier system to the top twenty outright finishers in each round.
|Points if Up to 3000cc||30||27||24||21||19||17||15||14||13||12||11||10||9||8||7||6||5||4||3||2|
|Points if 3001-6000cc||25||23||20||17||15||13||11||10||9||8||7||6||5||4||3||2||1||0||0||0|
Only the best seven round results could be counted by each driver.
- Conditions for Australian Titles, 1983 CAMS Manual of Motor Sport, pages 91-95
- Summary of Titles 1983, 1983 CAMS Manual of Australian Motor Sport, page 41
- Paul Gover, Australian Touring Car Championship, Australian Motor Racing Yearbook 1983/84, pages 184-201
- 1983 ATCC - Oran Park on YouTube (part 6/6)
- 1983 ATCC Rd.1 - Calder Park
- 1983 ATCC Rd.2 - Sandown
- 1983 ATCC Rd.3 - Symmons Plains
- "1983 ATCC". The Programme Covers Project. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- 1983 ATCC Rd.4 - Wanneroo Park
- 1983 ATCC Rd.5 - Adelaide International
- 1983 ATCC Rd.6 - Surfers Paradise
- 1983 ATCC Rd.8 - Lakeside
- Graham Howard & Stewart Wilson, Australian Touring Car Championship, 30 fabulous years, 1989, page 258
- Graham Howard, Stewart Wilson, David Greenhalgh, The official history - Australian Touring Car Championship - 50 Years, page 243 notes that "The Timekeeper's results for Lakeside have been located and say it was Barry Lawrence, not Geoff Russell, who came fourth.
- Official V8 Supercar site Contains historical ATCC information.