One-make racing categories have been a staple of the Australian motor-racing scene for decades. From the Ford Laser Series of the 1980s (which was contested by the likes of Mark Skaife and David Brabham, among others) to the Suzuki Swift GTI Series of the 1990s, the Mo-Pro Australia-run Daewoo, MGF and Lotus Series of the early to the mid-2000s, the Mini Challenge and now the Toyota 86 Series, one-make classes have come and gone over the years but have always had a presence at a national level.
So it’s fitting then, that the AMRS season-opener will see no less than three different one-make series taking part, all with a distinctly different flavour.
At the oldest, but also arguably the most prestigious end of the scale is the IROC Challenge category, which will appear on all six rounds of the AMRS calendar.
The IROC Challenge takes its inspiration from the International Race of Champions Series which ran in America during 1973 and ‘74, and pitted Formula 1, Indycar and NASCAR drivers against each other in identical Porsche 911 race cars.
The modern-day incarnation of IROC Challenge is based around the same concept, with the IROC-specification 3.6 Litre Porsche 911s eligible to run in the series, along with a class for “Classic Porsche” (pre-964 model 911 race cars) and “Gruppe S” (any Porsche 911 race cars currently eligible for historic competition).
Widespread interest has been received in the series with familiar classic Porsche racers like Sven Burchartz, Rohan Little, Greg Keene and Stan Adler expected to take part.
Also representing the one-make racing brigade, and also with a distinctly European flavour, is the BMW Drivers Cup, for E30 and invited race cars.
The category was established in 2000, and caters for the BMW E30 3 Series cars from the 1980s, either two or four-door versions. While both four and six-cylinder engines were originally permitted, the six cylinder 2.5 Litre motor from the 325i was quite obviously the most competitive choice and these days, the entire field consists of the 325i variant.
The series started as a class within Improved Production, but entry numbers increased so quickly the series was soon able to run standalone races at many events.
The key to the BMW Drivers Cup is its emphasis on driver development and race-craft, with a strict “no-contact” policy in place to minimise panel damage.
Last year, Michael Holdcroft won the title; other front-runners typically include brothers Sean and Chris Bell, Brian Bourke, Glenn Potter and Geoff Bowles.
The final one-make category on the program at the AMRS is the brand-new RX8 Cup Series, the brainchild of rotary enthusiast and long-time Mazda racer Ric Shaw.
With his vast motorsport experience, Shaw believes he’s onto a winning formula.
“I want to encourage people who haven’t been involved in motorsport before, or people who’ve only been involved at a grass-roots level, to build a car and race it,” Shaw said.
“We’ve designed the regulations with the specific objective of keeping the costs down, but chosen to appear on the national AMRS calendar to give all the competitors a decent amount of exposure.”
“We’ve kept most of the components very close to standard – Mazda did such a good job with the original RX8 design, not much work was needed to make it suitable for racing.
“Apart from the basic safety items like the roll cage and harness, the only other modifications we’ve made are to the brake pads, the exhaust system, radiator, and control shock absorber and spring package.
“It really is going to be a traditional one-make series where the results come down to pure driver ability.”
A number of RX8 Cup cars are being constructed for the series, with an assortment of racing newcomers set to contest the series alongside motorsport veterans such as Shaw and Phil Alexander.