Changes in regulations to the highly successful V8 Supercar Series are allowing new manufacturers to enter the series. For some, such as Volvo, it is an opportunity to shift their image in the marketplace.
Australia has a strong history and loyal following of its local motorsports. The most notable, the V8 Supercar Series, has actually only been in existence since 1997, when global sports promoters IMG joined forces with the Touring Car Entrants Group of Australia (TEGA) and the Australian Motor Sports Commission.
The concept was based around the successful Ford and Holden Touring Cars from the early 1990s which were traditionally considered the ‘Class A: Australian-produced 5.0-litre V8-engined vehicles’.
The Supercar Series quickly became considered the premier local racing competition in the land, gaining popularity through large crowds and extensive television coverage. Household names such as Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes propelled the series further and reinforced allegiances in the community for Holden or Ford.
This ‘red versus blue’ or ‘Holden versus Ford’ structure held firm until this year, when alternative manufacturers were granted an opportunity to compete through changes in regulations.
Four Nissan Altimas and three Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs have joined the tour this year with mixed success, but with the future of Ford in Australia a little clouded, it has been considered an important step for the future of Australian motorsport.
It is also a wonderful opportunity for car manufacturers to demonstrate their capabilities and perhaps even shift a perceived image.
Some would then argue that the decision by Volvo to join the V8 Supercar Series is a very wise one. Despite making vehicles that continually review very well with motoring experts, the Swedish giant has struggled in Australia to break the ‘stable, family, boring’ car tag it has endured for decades.
The announcement, made in June, will see two Volvo S60-styled factory-backed V8 Racecars (run through Garry Rogers Motorsport) line up at the Clipsal 500 and compete throughout the 2014 series.
Speaking at the official announcement, Volvo Car Australia boss Matt Braid highlighted that Volvo has a strong history in Australian motorsport, including winning the touring car championship in 1986 and the Bathurst 1000 in 1998.
“We are determined to add to our racing heritage, while adding to the image of the Volvo S60 model in Australia,” said Braid.
“We want to be successful… it won’t happen overnight but we’ve got the goods.
“We want to showcase the S60, which is the most dynamic car in our line-up.
“As the first luxury car brand to enter a factory backed team into the V8 Supercars, we are determined to add to this heritage.”
The team will be known as ‘Volvo Polestar Racing’ and brings together the global Volvo Car Group, Polestar and Garry Rogers Motorsport – the latter of which is currently running a Holden Commodore in the 2013 competition. Team owner, Garry Rogers confirmed that while the cars will change, the drivers will stay the same – and also acknowledged that the announcement was a surprise to many people.
“It came left of field; everyone knew we’d been talking to Chrysler,” announced Rogers. “The opportunity to align ourselves with Volvo, one of the world’s most recognised brands, and team up with Christian Dahl and Polestar, is first class.
“I am still a racer at heart and the big plus of this relationship that impressed me more than other manufacturers I had spoken to was the fact these people had done their homework on the ‘Car of the Future’ rules and regulations, and could see the commercial opportunities that this offered…
Excerpted from an article originally published in the Sep/Oct 2013 issue of Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine. If you are a subscriber to Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine, you will receive this article in your Sep/Oct 2013 issue of TGR. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.