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

The Touring Car Masters (TCM) Australia series is well and truly underway for 2021, exhilarating 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 incredible.

What is the Touring Car Masters racing series?

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.

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. Now owned by the Australia Racing Group, TCM is a popular support category for the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships, along with the Supercar Bathurst 500 and the Bathurst International. 

It is also held as a warm up to some V8 Supercar rounds. The TCM series and it’s fans get to enjoy retro V8 action at some of Australia’s best championship tracks including: Sandown, The Bend, Sydney Motorsport Park, Symmons Plains, Hidden Valley, Queensland Raceway 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 $300,0000+ mark, with annual ongoing maintenance and damage costs running into the annually.

Touring Car Masters car weight requirements

A V8 Supercar has to weigh 1355kg without the driver, whereas a Class C TCM car has to come in at around 1630 kg, approximately 300kgs more, 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 limits the quantities for each car in a particular event, 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, so 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 engine specs

Class C TCM engines are powerful V8s which 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.

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 amazing up-and-comers like Brad Tilley. John Bowe, Steve Johnson and Adam Garwood are the names to beat right now but we’re excited to see the next generation come through. TCM is a category with a lot of promising talent and rules designed to keep drivers on their toes and racing as interesting as possible.

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

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 decreased rev 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.

 

Touring Car Masters schedule

The Touring Car Masters schedule can be subject to change each season but as a guide, the 2021 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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