A Year On Year History - Saloon Car Racing in Australia
2000 – 2000 was the inaugural year of the Saloon Car National Championship, and with the support of CSA Alloy Wheels a three round National Series was hastily put together. A million things had to be done including convincing promoters that Saloon Cars were a viable support category for their major race meetings, a difficult task considering that most promoters didn’t even know what Saloon Cars were! At the end of the day we cobbled together a mini Series supporting the V8 Supercars ate the Clipsal 500, Oran Park Super-Tourers and the Queensland 500 again with the V8 Supercars. A total of 29 cars contested the Series. Shane Beikoff (Qld) was the 2000 National Series Champion. Shane currently competes in the V8 Supercar category.
2001 – The 2001 CSA Alloy Wheels National Series was run in conjunction with the Konica V8 Supercar Series and consisted of six rounds encompassing Qld, NSW, Vic and SA. For the first time interstate travel assistance and prize money was on offer to the 53 competitors that contested the Series. Tony Evangelou (Vic) was 2001 National Series Champion. Tony also moved up to the V8 Supercar category.
2002 – The 2002 season heralded in a new era in the relatively short life of Saloon Car racing with the CSA Alloy Wheels National Series being officially sanctioned by CAMS. The Series once again ran in conjunction with the V8 Supercars. Sixty-eight different Saloon Cars and drivers contested the Series thirty-two of which were “rookies”. Competitors came from all states including a strong contingent from WA and a couple from NT. Bruce Heinrich (SA) was 2002 National Series Champion.
2003 – A seven round National Series supporting the V8 Supercars was contested in 2003 with highlights of each round being televised on Network Ten via the Trackside program. A highlight of the season was again being part of the Clipsal 500 race meeting in Adelaide. The CSA Alloy Wheels Series crossed the Nullabor for the first time to be part of the VB300 V8 Supercar meeting at Barbagallo Raceway in WA. All rounds were over-subscribed with 40+ cars on the grid. Bruce Heinrich (SA) successfully defended his title to be 2003 National Series Champion.
2004 – Clint Harvey (WA) was the 2004 National Champion after a very competitive six round Series. The Series travelled to NSW, Vic, SA and again to WA. Saloon Cars were again invited to support the V8 Supercars. 2004 was the most competitive Series so far with seven drivers going into the final round at Phillip Island with a chance of taking the title. After three hard fought races with plenty of drama, Clint Harvey emerged a worthy Champion.
2005 – A seven round Series was contested in 2005. The Series once again traversed the country and was part of the V8 Supercar Development Series, National Truck Racing Championship and the Australian Motor Racing Series. Highlights of each round were televised on the SBS Network via the Speedweek program. Two times Champion Bruce Heinrich regained the National Saloon Car Championship crown.
2006 – Several aspects of Saloon Car racing changed for 2006. Most importantly the category was granted National Championship status as well as being invited to be a core category (one of five) in the CAMS National Racing Championships. The 2006 Championship was contested over seven rounds with Symmons Plains Tasmania being included for the first time.
2006 was also the first year of the “new generation” VT Commodore and AU Falcon model Saloon Cars. Bruce Heinrich was 2006 National Champion.
2007 – The 2007 Saloon Car Championship was the longest thus far. It was contested over eight rounds beginning in April and running through until December. An average of twenty cars contested each round. Four new lap records were created during the year. The lowlight of the year was the carnage caused by heavy rain at Mallala. Bruce Heinrich was once again Champion.
2008 – Without doubt the major happening for 2008 was the Saloon Car category being invited to compete at Bathurst. After many years of trying to get onto the Mount Panorama program, Saloon Cars were finally invited to be part of the action. The Championship was contested over six rounds with Bathurst being round one and Sandown the “Grand Final”.
Steve Kwiatkowski (SA) and Matt Lovell (SA) headed the leader board all year, and both had a chance of taking the title going into the final round. Kwiatkowski held off a determined Lovell to take the title.
2009 – Saloon cars were once again invited to compete at Bathurst for the 12hr. The Championship was contested over seven rounds with Bathurst being round one and Sandown the “Grand Final”.
Shawn Jameson (SA) headed the leader board all year, and wrapped up the championship by round 5 at Morgan Park in QLD.
2010 – Saloon cars were once again invited to compete at Bathurst for the 12hr. The Championship was contested over six rounds with Bathurst being round one and Sandown the “Grand Final”.
Tim Rowse (VIC), Simon Tabinor (VIC) and Shawn Jamieson (SA) were all in contention to take out the title heading into the final rounds, but it was Victorian Tim Rowse, who had the goods, and won the championship.
2011 - Competing in 6 rounds of the Shannons National, the championship saw Saloons return to Wakefield Park for the first time in 5 years.
In the first few rounds, it looked to be a battle between the South Australian's of Shawn Jamieson, and Matt Lovell to take out the title, but in a shock decision, Shawn Jamieson withdrew from the championship to focus on other racing committments.
Matt Lovell took out his first championship, with series mainstays Mark Primmer in 2nd, and Geoff Brown in 3rd.