AS the V8s speed around Mount Panorama, the Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club has begun preparations for how it will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first Australian Touring Car Championship.
Club president Denis Gregory said well before the Bathurst 1000 was established, the championship it is part of started as a single race at the Gnoo Blas Racing Circuit, which is now Sir Jack Brabham Park.
Accordingly, the club will celebrate the milestone at its next classic car show in February.
"The club is also tracking down drivers who took part in the 1960 race won by David McKay from Bill Pitt and Ron Hodgson, all in Jaguars," Mr Gregory said.
He said V8 Supercars would also take part in the car show.
The Cherry Blossom Motor Racing Committee and the Bushmen's Carnival committee organised the inaugural event, intended to commemorate Orange's 100th anniversary, billing the event as 'fast cars and rough riders".
"A rodeo and trotting gymkhana was planned at the showground for the Saturday followed on Monday by the first Australian Touring Car Championship," Mr Gregory said.
"[It was] chalk and cheese."
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Organisers could not have envisaged that race would develop into an annual championship.Gnoo Blas Classic Car Club president Denis Gregory
Mr Gregory said the race attracted 52 cars of 15 different makes, but only 44 started due to mechanical problems in earlier events.
They ranged from a Fiat 750 Abarth, all the way through to Jaguars, a swag of FX and FJ Holdens, Rileys, Morris Majors, Austin Lancers, Wolseleys, Zephyrs, Peugeots and Simcas.
A crowd of 7000 attended, with gate takings of about $3400, although it was still short of covering expenses.
"But organisers could not have envisaged that race would develop into an annual championship single-race series before it was taken over by the V8s around 1993," Mr Gregory said.
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Gnoo Blas would not host the event a second time as increasing competition from Mount Panorama meant the track closed in 1961.
Bill Pitt won the second touring car championship race held at Lowood in Queensland the same year.
The Australian Touring Car Championship no longer exists, now called the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, but the winning driver is still named the Australian Touring Car Champion.
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