TIMELINE: Ford’s Australian touring car history
Ford’s exit from V8 Supercars at the end of next season is not the first time the blue oval has withdrawn backing from Australia’s highest profile racing category.
Take a walk through the company’s history with Speedcafe.com’s timeline.
– Ford Works Team was first formed in 1962, with Harry Firth preparing and co-driving a winning XL model Ford Falcon in that year’s Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island.
– The Cortina GT saw service over the following two years, winning the now Bathurst-hosted Armstrong 500 in 1963 and 1964, as well as the Australian Touring Car Championship, run to different regulations, in the latter year.
– An improved version of the Cortina, the GT 500, took a third successive Armstrong win for the blue oval under Firth’s control in 1965.
– Ford Mustangs meanwhile took charge in the Australian Touring Car Championships, winning each year from 1965-1969 in the hands of Bob Jane and Ian Geoghegan.
– The Cortina made way for the XR Falcon GT at Bathurst in 1967, where Firth and Fred Gibson teamed to give the nameplate a win on debut.
– In 1969 Canadian-born Allan Moffat joined the Ford Bathurst effort while American Al Turner took over from Harry Firth as the team boss.
– Moffat won Bathurst in 1970 (XW GTHO) and 1971 (XY GTHO), with the latter effort the first under the control of Howard Marsden.
– Ford enjoyed a double ATCC/Bathurst triumph in 1973 before officially withdrawing from racing at the end of the year, citing the oil crisis as the reason.
– Falcon XA GTs won at Bathurst through Moffat and Ian Geoghegan in 1973 and Kevin Bartlett and John Goss the following year.
– Ford’s success continued in the immediate aftermath of the withdrawal thanks to privateers John Goss (1974 Bathurst winner) and Allan Moffat (1976 ATCC).
– Moffat’s effort was supported by the factory via the Moffat Ford Dealers, winning the 1977 ATCC before recording a famous one-two at Bathurst.
– Ford then pulled the plug again on Australian tin top racing at the end of 1978, triggering two years of Holden domination via the company’s A9X.
– Dick Johnson became Ford’s favourite on the track through the 1980s, with his backing coming through the company’s parts division Motorcraft.
– Johnson won the ATCC and Bathurst in his Falcon XD in 1981, before enjoying further ATCC success in 1982 and with an XE in the final year of the Group C era in 1984.
– The Motorcraft-backed Johnson continued to be Ford’s flag bearer during two tough seasons with Group A Ford Mustangs.
– Group A turbo-charged Ford Sierras then took Bathurst in 1988 (Tony Longhurst/Tomas Mezera) and 1989 (Johnson/John Bowe), with Johnson winning the championship in both years.
– Ford shared its support between DJR and Glenn Seton Racing when the 5.0 litre V8 rules saw a return of the Falcon to Australian race tracks in 1993; snubbing an approach from reigning two-time champions Gibson Motorsport.
– GSR and DJR shared strong success over the following years, with the former winning titles in 1993 and 97 and the latter scoring a Bathurst win in 1994 and ATCC trophy in 1995.
– The list of Ford supported teams grew during the late 1990s and early 2000s under the leadership of Geoff Polites, with first-year squad Stone Brothers Racing tasting Bathurst success in 1998.
– The blue oval rebranded GSR as Ford Tickford Racing for 1999 as part of its growing commitment to the sport, marking the first factory-entered effort since 1973.
– Ford bankrolled Craig Lowndes’ defection from Holden for 2001 with Gibson Motorsport, which also joined the Ford fold after years with The General.
– After failing to score a single victory, FTR team reverted to its GSR moniker for a single season in 2002 while focus shifted to Craig Lowndes and Gibson
– Seton’s team was then purchased by David Richards’ UK concern Prodrive a year later, with the factory team going under the Ford Performance Racing name and recruiting Lowndes.
– SBR meanwhile delivered a return to winning ways for Ford, taking three consecutive titles between drivers Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall from 2003.
– Triple Eight then took over as Ford’s most competitive force in the mid-2000s, taking a hat-trick of Bathurst wins from 2006-2008.
– Ford announced during 2008 that it would ditch support of Triple Eight and Dick Johnson Racing at season’s end, leaving FPR and SBR as its sole factory backed teams.
– With Triple Eight moving to Holden for 2010, Ford won just one of the sport’s major prizes – the championship and Bathurst – in the following three years courtesy of a cash-strapped DJR.
– FPR changed hands at the start of 2013 with Richards selling out to Rod Nash and Rusty French who had acquired Prodrive Racing Australia.
– Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards guided the FPR FG to victory at Bathurst in 2013, the first for the factory team in its 10-year existence.
– FPR made it back-to-back Bathurst wins in 2014 with a last-to-first victory for Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris.
– Ford announces on the eve of the season finale that it will cut all support for its V8 Supercars teams following the completion of the 2015 season.