Sunday Roast: Why V8 Supercars has to change or die

Sunday Roast: V8 Supercars

It's time for V8 Supercars to wake up to reality and accept that change is not such a bad thing. The sight of dozens of throaty V8s thumping around Mount Panorama is still a fantastic spectacle.

But today's Bathurst 1000 also sets a new record – that of the least number of competitors lining up to complete 161 laps of Australia's most revered circuit. Gone are the days of 50-plus cars snaking around the last corner of the track as the start grid stretches back up the mountain.

These days the costs of building and maintaining a V8 Supercar and the lack of relevance to most roads cars means there are one of the lowest levels of factory supported teams ever – just five. And that's despite the 2013 introduction of the much hyped Car of the Future cars that were supposed to diversify the field and reduce costs.

This week a newspaper reported that Ford has already made up its mind on its future in Australian motorsport. While the reported 2015 exit may be premature – Wheels understands Ford will make 2016 its final V8 Supercar season – there's enough smoke to suggest the rumours might lead to fire, despite denials from Ford a decision has been made.

There's every chance Ford's decision won't be in isolation.

Volvo may have raised its image with its multi-million dollar investment in the sport, but sales have hardly soared to Mount Panorama-like heights as a result. Just as Volvo entered the Aussie series its head office in Sweden was proudly declaring it would only be building three- and four-cylinder engines and that V8s were irrelevant and unnecessary.

Similarly, Nissan's V8 Supercar involvement does little to support the vehicles it's selling on the road. It's the V6 turbocharged GT-R that is the brand's performance king, with the only V8 in its line-up reserved for the slow selling Nissan Patrol.

Mercedes-Benz made it clear V8 Supercars were not the way it wanted to build the image of its high tech AMG hero range.

So instead of holding on to the past – the V8 category hasn't changed that much since 1993 – it's time to bring back some diversity.

Australia's top motorsport category has shown in the past that variety can be good. Remember when six-cylinder Toranas proved a thing or two about power to weight? And a Mazda RX-7 driven by an opinionated Canadian shook up the V8 establishment? Just look at out Top 50 Bathurst moments and you'll see the diversity of the race's history.

Not to mention the Group A era when everything from Jaguars, Ford Sierras and Nissan GT-Rs at least created some respite to the Ford versus Holden mine-is-bigger-than-yours banter. Just because they're not V8s doesn't mean they can't be spectacular.

As we're seeing with road cars, smaller engines, batteries and new technologies are changing the way performance is delivered. Ultimately, we don't care how or what makes it goes fast – just that it does what it says on the box.

So let's give the punters a bit more than the Vegemite sandwiches they've chewed on for 20 years and at the same time give manufacturers a reason – an incentive – to again get behind Australian motorsport in a big way.

That way maybe we could still have the Ford versus Holden battles that have shaped Australia's race tracks. As well as Audi, Mazda, Nissan and whatever other brands decide to use motorsport as a marketing tool.

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  • Take Bathurst back to the way it was in the 60s and early 70s stock show room cars ,with safety mods ,in engine capacity groups 1 to 2 litre,2 to 3 litre then 3 to 4 litre all together on the track ,out right winner then group winners
  • Totally agree, sad as it is one one way. But while on the subject of V8's, I thought the car had to be based on a road car with a V8? Neither Volvo or Nissan sells a S60 or Altima with a V8???
  • It would serve them well to spend a couple of years looking at Trans Am and GT racing. There's a lot to learn there from spectacular V8 racing. Copying the BTCC just isn't going to cut it with the average punter. Look what the Touring Car debacle did to devide the faithful. Once GM and Ford bring their American muscle cars to the party, Mercedes, Audi and others could use their German Touring Car experience to build cars that would compete on a similar level. This would be a unique and exciting class that is not only relevant but would still provide the thunder down-under.
  • Recall that the last time Turbo's and AWD cars were in the mix, the category was just about to file for bankruptcy. And also recall that the 2 Litre Touring Cars went up against the V8's in the late 1990's and proved to be way less popular, and made severe losses even at the flagship Bathurst event - enough that when Ch7 final lost the brinkmanship battle, the tradition Bathurst Long Weekend was lost to the football codes forever. What you are suggesting has been tried and failed - twice. You'd be a brave soul to pitch this idea a 3rd time and expect to succeed.
  • I much prefer to watch bathurst 69-79 on old videos than the sterile events we are presented with now. However, it is the current range of drivers, Perkins, Skaife, Richards etc that have pushed supercars to where they are. Nobody ever asked the fans what they wanted. Now they are paying the price. People want variety and entertainment amongst the Group A racing.
  • And you have to remember, Nissan nor Mercedes nor Volvo have won a race yet.
  • Yet Toyota are spending big bucks with NASCAR. Rock out those front wheel drive coupes.... Oh, hand on.....
  • I would love to see teams like Renault, with the Megane, and European carmakers factory teams back on our race tracks, I feel that unless ther is a change V8 Supercars as we know it will disappear just after the manufacture of true bread Aussie brilliance
  • There certainly need to be more classes of racing, unless V8 Supercars is prepared for a name change in coming years there will be no more V8's racing, how about we go back to true Touring Car Racing, with the inclusion of production Cars.
  • agree completely....well overdue. The good old days were good old days for a reason