THE PAYNTER DIXON Touring Car Masters will celebrate a major milestone in the series history at the 2019 Paynter Dixon Sydney MasterBlast ft Muscle Car masters at Sydney Motorsport Park, with the category to contest its 300th race at the event.
The major milestone will come as the series races under lights for the first time on the Saturday evening of the August 30 – September 1 event.
Formed in 2007 by a core group of Group N competitors looking to race on the national stage, Touring Car Masters (TCM) evolved from Historic Touring Car racing to add reliability and additional safety to classic racers.
The resulting category has proved to be one of the most successful of the last decade with a host of famous names and remarkable cars tackling the 298 races contested to date.
182 drivers have contested at least one TCM race since the categories formative race at the Adelaide 500 in March 2007. Thirty-five of those have won races, while 13 different models and six different brands have tasted race winning success.
Five-time series champion John Bowe remains not only the series’ most successful driver, but also its most experienced. His 96 race wins have come from 254 race starts, with only Jim Richards and Tony Karanfilovski joining Bowe in the 200-club.
21 drivers have started more than 100 races: Adam Bressington the most recent to join the elite club while, assuming he starts the first race in Sydney, Steven Johnson will be the next.
Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars’ Gary O’Brien was one of the series’ founding fathers and as well as racing, has played a key role both behind the scenes and in preparing vehicles for some of the biggest names in the paddock.
“We were burning around in 2006-’07 in Historic Touring Cars and reliability was a bit of an issue,” O’Brien remembers.
“A group of guys got together to form what we now know as Touring Car Masters and put better running gear in them, make them more reliable and we were off and racing. It’s proven to be a great entertainment package.
“I think every time I went to a track it was a highlight! To be there and see the stuff you saw on TV was a highlight.
“We were racing guys who had been around a few years as well. I was an upstart – a club racer, so If I could run second or third to those guys you were doing a good job.”
While his own TCM career has to date delivered 92 races and 31 round starts, O’Brien is perhaps best-known for being the man behind John Bowe’s switch to the iconic Paynter Dixon Holden Torana SL/R 5000 he has raced since the 2015 season.
The Torana recently notched up its 100th race start and has taken Bowe and team boss O’Brien to the 2015 and 2016 titles.
“As soon as we rolled it off the trailer it was quick and we’ve never looked back,” O’Brien said.
“It’s never had a big dollar spent on any major upgrades. It’s how it was when we built it.
“JB’s proved over time that he can peddle it pretty hard. He’s driving it as hard as he can.”
Sydneysider Steve Mason was the inaugural champion, winning the 2007 title aboard his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS.
Still one of only seven drivers in category history to win 10 or more races, Mason edged out future champion Gavin Bullas by just a handful of points in a Camaro-versus-Mustang battle that would set the tone for years to come.
Like O’Brien, Mason has now swapped helmet for headset but continues to be involved in the category as he watches son Cameron race at the pointy-end of the grid.
“I’ve got really great memories of that time,” said Mason of the formation of the class.
“I could see that the category was always going to be a winner – I mean, who doesn’t like the old cars? They’ve got soul, they’ve got the sound and pace. They’re not easy to drive with not much tyre, not much brake and lots and lots of horsepower. It’s a great recipe.
“I think the crowd really love it. I know I loved driving them at the time.
Mason finished third in the first ever TCM race on the streets of Adelaide but would edge out Brad Tilley and Garry Treloar to win the series’ first ever round.
“I can remember it – I think I went alright in the round! There’s lots of great battles over the years. Drew Marget was one rival and car is of course now Mustang Sally, John Bowe’s old car. Gavin Bullas, he also ran a ’69 Mustang. We’ve got the Jimmy Richards, John Bowe’s – even Glenn Seton’s had a steer. There’s some great names in this category. It’s really stepped up – it’s not amateurish anymore and the bar has realty been lifted.”
The Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters will headline the Sydney Master Blast – incorporating the Muscle Car Masters as the event returns to the traditional father’s day weekend this year.
Follow the Touring Car Masters via www.touringcarmasters.com.au, or @TCMAustralia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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