Five of the best to come from the Apple Isle
What Tasmania lacks in size it more than makes up for in producing quality drivers.
The third running of AWC Race Tasmania on February 24-26 will again provide the locals an opportunity to race on the national stage, but the drivers from the Apple Isle have enjoyed a successful history in Australian motorsport.
We’ve identified five of the best drivers to come from across Bass Strait.
1. Marcos Ambrose
No list of Australian motorsport stars is complete without Marcos Ambrose.
Following an impressive career in Europe racing Formula Ford, Ambrose returned to Australia in 2001 to compete in V8 Supercars. The Tasmanian native became a Ford hero when he ended the Blue Oval’s championship drought in 2003 before backing it up in 2004.
Heading to the US in 2006, Ambrose climbed the ladder of NASCAR winning two races at the top level at Watkins Glen in 2011 and 2012.
Ambrose is still firmly entrenched in the motorsport landscape these days, serving as Competition Director at Garry Rogers Motorsport.
2. John Bowe (AM)
Welcomed as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2021, John Bowe has achieved pretty much everything there is to do in Australian motorsport.
A multiple Australian Drivers’ Championship winner, a holder of the Australian Sports Car Championship, an Australian Touring Car champion and dual Bathurst victor, Bowe is one of the best credentialled in the country.
Racing some of the most iconic cars in the country including the ultra fast Veskanda, Elfin MR9 Formula 5000, Volvo 240 Turbo, Ford Sierra RS500, BMW E46 M3 V8 and much more, Bowe was a mainstay of the touring car title winning it in 1995 as he retired after a record 469 starts
Since retiring from touring cars, Bowe has dominated the Gulf Western Oil Touring Car Masters title winning it six times and has dabbled successfully in GT racing including a Bathurst 12 Hour victory in each of its eras.
3. John Goss (OAM)
A two-time Bathurst winner and extremely versatile, John Goss was another honoured to receive an Order of Australia in 2018.
First coming to prominence driving his self-built Tornado Ford, Goss won the Australian Sports Car Championships in 1969 and 1970 before turning to Formula 5000, then touring cars in a dual campaign.
Winning the highly competitive South Pacific Touring Car Series for production saloons in 1972, Goss led the development of the XA Falcon hardtop the next season and was rewarded by winning the Bathurst 1000 alongside Kevin Bartlett in 1974.
An alignment with the legend Frank Matich aided the Tasmanian’s Formula 5000 campaign as Goss became the last driver to win the Australian Grand Prix in a local design when he took victory in 1976. Further making history by becoming the first and as yet only driver to win both the Australian Grand Prix and the Bathurst 1000.
Following years of developing his own Bathurst entries, Goss was drafted into the crack Tom Walkinshaw Racing squad for the factory Jaguar assault on the Mountain in 1985 where he and German Armin Hahne took the flag.
4. Greg Crick
An underrated driver, Launceston car dealer Greg Crick has driven a diverse range of cars covering a wide variety of classes since coming to prominence in the late-1980s.
Winning the Australian Sports Sedan Championship in his Honda Prelude Chev, Crick tasted further success on home turf by winning the first two Targa Tasmania events in 1992 and 1993, co-driven by Greg Preece.
Regarded as a leading privateer in the Australian Touring Car Championship during the late-1990s, Crick also became a reliable co-driver to the likes of Paul Weel and fellow Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose.
Crick raced full time in the Nations Cup, then GT championship ranks as he secured the 2006 title driving a Dodge Viper. Following this success, Crick transitioned to Touring Car Masters where he was a hero to the Mopar supporters in his Chrysler Charger.
Retiring from driving after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning during a herculean stint during the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, Crick maintains a strong link with motorsport mentoring young drivers including at Garry Rogers Motorsport.
5. John McCormack
‘Johnny Mac’ was a leading driver during Formula 5000’s halcyon days.
John McCormack enjoyed a successful career in Formula 5000 racking up race victories not only in Australia, but also New Zealand and even contested events in the US.
Forming an Ansett-backed Elfin team alongside the constructor’s founder Garrie Cooper, McCormack finished a best of second in the Tasman Series and the Australian Grand Prix, but did win New Zealand’s top prize in 1973 and 1974.
A three-time Australian Drivers’ Championship winner, McCormack also ran a successful parallel program in sports sedans with the iconic Chrysler Charger powered by a Repco-Holden V8. McCormack won the Toby Lee Sports Sedan Series in 1974 before handing the duties over to fellow Tasmanian Tony Edmondson.
McCormack did return to sports sedans in a rapid Jaguar XJS, however a road accident forced his early retirement before the British beast fulfilled its potential.
Honourable Mention – Tony Edmondson
A star of sports sedans in 1970s and 1980s, Tony Edmondson got his start courtesy of Tasmanian patron Don Elliott. Surviving a near-death experience at Surfers Paradise International Raceway in 1979, coming back to win one of his two Australian Sports Sedan titles a year later.
Edmondson was a star of Australian Sports Sedans in the late 70’s and early 80’s. From eight seasons in the Sports Sedan Championship, Edmondson won it twice.
Who will add their name to the AWC Race Tasmania honours board in 2023? Be there to find out from February 24-26.
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