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2022 Touring Car Masters: Your guide to Australia’s best retro racing series

The 2022 Touring Car Masters (TCM) Australia series is soon to get underway and will exhilarate fans of V8 racing and classic muscle cars from the golden age of high-performance car racing.

Voted the #1 support event to the V8 Supercars, the TCM series has become a beloved fixture on the Australian motorsport scene since its inaugural race back in 2007—and for good reason.

Whether you’re a long-term Touring Masters fan, love reminiscing on V8 racing from the 60’s and 70’s or simply want to learn more about this incredible sport, the future of TCM racing promises to be absolutely extraordinary.

touring car masters retro cars racing around the track

The Touring Car Masters, just like the Touring Car Series, is a professional motorsport road racing competition. But the series comes with an exciting twist—TCM features the best retro touring cars from 1 January 1963 to 31 December 1978, which have all been highly-modified to perform like contemporary touring cars.

If you’re an Australian car racing fan, you probably remember when TCM came onto the stage back in 2007, evolving from the Historic Group N racing that came before it.

tcm australia touring car masters race

The series has proven to be such a winning formula that fans voted it the most popular support category in a recent Speedcafe.com survey for two consecutive years. Now owned by the Australia Racing Group, TCM is a popular support category for the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships, along with the Supercar Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst International.

TCM rounds are often held in conjunction with some V8 Supercar rounds, which adds to the fans’ overall experience of blockbuster motorsport events. The TCM series and its fans get to enjoy retro V8 action at some of Australia’s best championship tracks including Sandown, Sydney Motorsport Park, Queensland Raceway, Townsville Street Circuit, and of course the main event of the season—Mt Panorama, home of the Bathurst 1000.

TCM racing is famously hard, with high horsepower, plenty of passing opportunities and hair-raising sideways action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

 

QUALIFYING HIGH-PERFORMANCE TCM CARS

As demand for the Touring Car Masters has grown, a steady stream of increasingly modified cars have joined the line-up, raising the bar for design and performance within the series.

Currently, there are 17 eligible models that compete in the Australian Touring Car Masters including: Toranas, Falcons, Commodores, Camaros, Mustangs, and Pacers, all with varying mechanical and aerodynamic characteristics.

Each TCM car starts with a standard body but is heavily modified for racing. This includes engines, suspension, brakes, wheels, tires and a limited number of aerodynamic aids. More exotic technologies have mostly been limited to keep the cars recognisably retro and provide a thrill for spectators who remember these amazing cars at the peak of their racing careers.

Due to their age, it’s getting harder to find a TCM eligible car body in good enough condition to get race ready. Most require extensive restorations and rust removal. So while a TCM car may not be as expensive to build as a V8 Supercar, a top tier specimen is still valued at around the $300,000+ mark, with annual ongoing maintenance and damage costs running into the annually.

tcm australia touring cars masters cars in a lot

TOURING CAR MASTERS CAR WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS

A Class C TCM car has to come in at around 1630 kg, approximately 300kgs more than A V8 Supercar has to weigh 1355kg without the driver, which while resulting in slower lap times and brake strain, still makes for incredible racing. These cars are loud, fast and get plenty of sideways action on tight corners.

TOURING CAR MASTERS RACING PARITY

Although the TCM category operates to a Weights and RPM Register, which in general helps the be fair and even, there are continuing issues and debate around how to improve race parity.

Being period cars, equalising performance is an almost impossible task. Part of the Touring Car Masters charm is seeing stunning retro muscle cars that are mostly correct to their original specs.

However, there has been a push to create a new standard, and get closer to parity all the time. For example, in Bathurst’s 2021 round, about half a dozen TCM competitors were fitted with engine data loggers in a bid to determine parity and find solutions for equalising the field.

Category Managers look for innovative ways to address parity issues and we’ll see more developments in this area over the next few seasons.

TOURING CAR MASTERS SPECS

Class C TCM engines are powerful V8s that are fed by a single four-barrel carburetor and revved between 7200-7800rpm — but this can change depending on the brand of the engine and the seeding and status of the driver.

Unlike V8 Supercar engines, a TCM V8 engine can be assembled with off-the-shelf components that anyone can buy from a speed shop. Many come from NASCAR parts from the USA. The engines are considered reliable due to a dry-sumped engine that cuts oil surge in the corners.

Gary O’Brien from Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars took 2 years to build John Bowe’s latest TS+CM beast and when it debuted in 2015 and won its first race in Winton, the specs were as follows:

touring car masters john bowe holden

1977 Holden LX SL/R5000

  • Engine 5.0-litre pushrod V8, Holley carburettor
  • Power 525hp @ 8000rpm
  • Torque 380ft lbs @ 5000rpm
  • Gearbox 4-speed G-Force GSR
  • Suspension Penske coil-over shocks, wishbones (f); 5-link live axle, 9-inch diff, coil springs, Penske shocks (r)
  • Brakes 304mm AP rotors, 4-piston AP calipers (f), 296mm AP rotors, 4-piston AP calipers (r)
  • Weight 1350kg (at Winton)

2022 TOURING CAR MASTERS DRIVERS

Another major drawcard for the Touring Car Masters are the drivers, who include a mix of ‘seeded’ professionals like Bathurst champion John Bowe and promising up-and-comers like Brad Tilley. John Bowe, Ryan Hansford and Steve Johnson are the names to beat right now with Bowe holding off Hansford at Bathurst to win his 6th TCM Championship in 2021. Bowe is a fan favourite and his longevity at the top of Australian motorsport has him now racing against the sons of his former team mates, Dick Johnson (son Steve) and Gregg Hansford (son Ryan). But we’re excited to see the next generation come through TCM, a category with a lot of promising talent and rules designed to keep drivers on their toes and racing as interesting as possible.

touring car masters driver john bowe australia

Current drivers and their cars include:

  • #6 Ryan Hansford – Holden Torana A9X
  • #7 Jim Pollicina – Holden Torana A9X
  • #9 Andrew Fisher – Ford Falcon XY GT
  • #12 Peter Burnitt – Holden Torana A9X
  • #17 Steve Johnson – Ford Falcon XD
  • #18 John Bowe – Holden Torana Sll/R 5000
  • #25 Paul Freestone – Chevrolet Camaro
  • #29 Jamie Tilley – Ford Mustang Coupe
  • #33 Cameron Mason – Ford Mustang TransAm
  • #35 Jason Gomersall – Holden Torana A9X
  • #50 Gerard McLeod – Holden Commodore VB
  • #58 Ryal Harris – Chevrolet Camaro SS
  • #60 Cameron Tilley – Valiant Pacer
  • #67 Jeremy Gray – Ford Capri Perana
  • #71 Marcus Zukanovic – Ford Falcon XD
  • #74 Wayne Mercer – Ford Falcon XY GHTO
  • #75 Aaron McGill – Ford Falcon XW GT
  • #95 Mark King – Chevrolet Camaro SS
  • #88 Tony Karanfilovski – Ford Mustang Coupe
  • # 85 Adam Garwood – Chevrolet Camaro RS

TOURING CAR MASTERS RULES

australia retro car racing

TCM has its own distinctive rules that make it exciting and different from other motorsport categories.

To create the most exciting racing experience, TCM regulations place the fastest drivers at the back for a reverse grid race that guarantees absolute mayhem and exhilaration. The kings of the road charge through, usually resulting in a few accidents along the way as everyone else fights for a position.

Points are given for starting and finishing the race, but with the purpose of inflicting even more chaos on the drivers. Anyone who’s continuously taking out wins has penalties such as increased weight or limited revs to help even the playing field, keep things interesting and stop one driver from dominating the pack.

There’s one more element to add to the fun. The TCM actually splits into three class categories: Pro-Masters for professionals, Pro-Am for the part-timers and Pro-Sports that allows entrants to cross-enter in the same car, so that more than one person can score points for a single car. According to Speedcafe.com, these categories will most likely be decided based on performances from the 2021 season. Those who qualified or finished in the top four on more than three occasions would be placed in Pro-Masters.

2022 TOURING CAR MASTERS SCHEDULE

touring car masters retro racing track day

The Touring Car Masters schedule can be subject to change each season but as a guide, the 2022 season is as follows:

WHERE CAN I HAVE MY OWN V8 EXPERIENCE?

With Fastrack V8 Race Experience, now you can feel the same exhilaration that your favourite Touring Car Masters and V8 Supercar drivers get to experience whenever they get out there and put it all on the line.

Purchase a gift voucher for one of our driving experiences and you could be driving your own V8 race car on the same championship tracks as your heroes— or for the ultimate experience, book a signature John Bowe hot lap experience that puts you in the passenger seat as the legendary TCM champion shows you exactly what it is that makes him the master of the track. There’s no thrill quite like it.

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