Touring car greats Jim Richards and Mark Skaife have been announced as the “advance” inductees for the 2017 Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame which will be unveiled on the Australian Formula One Grand Prix weekend in Melbourne in March.
Fittingly, Richards and Skaife - who were synonymous with each other through one of the most tumultuous times in Australian touring car racing - will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, presented by Speedcafe.com on Friday night, March 24 at a gala black tie dinner to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame is an initiative of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and is designed to recognise on and off-track contributors from every discipline of motor sport in Australia from Circuit Racing, Motorcycling, Speedway, Drag Racing, Rallying, off-road and Karting.
Richards and Skaife, who were announced as inductees today during the build up to this weekend’s final round of the Supercars Championship at Olympic Park in Sydney, will head a list of 21 recipients who will join the inaugural list of 30 greats which included legends Sir Jack Brabham, Alan Jones and Mick Doohan.
Whilst the pair have shared victory at Bathurst on three occasions, the 1992 win in the Nissan GT-R in wet conditions and the subsequent presentation to a hostile crowd is an iconic Australian motor sport moment that is talked about as much now - 14 years later - as it was on the day.
Born in Otahuhu, New Zealand, Jim Richards first attempted the Bathurst 1000 in early 1974, finishing third alongside Rod Coppins in an LH Torana S/LR 5000. Soon after he moved to Australia, which was the start of a remarkable stretch of domination in many disciplines of the sport.
His CV has few rivals in Australian motor sport history - whether it be touring cars, Superspeedway racing, GT, Tarmac Rally or historic racing - where he is still competitive today.
Richards took three Bathurst wins with Peter Brock between 1978 and 1980 in the A9X Torana. His next Bathurst win would not come until sharing a Nissan GT-R with Skaife in 1991, the pair backing that up in 1992.
After a win in a Volvo in 1998 with Rickard Rydell, Richards’ seventh and final Bathurst victory would come with Skaife in 2002 aboard a Holden Racing Team VZ Commodore.
Richards is a four-time Australian Touring Car Champion, four-time New Zealand Saloon Car Champion and is an eight-time Targa Tasmania winner. He has also won the Nations Cup Championship three times, Porsche Carrera Cup, Touring Car Masters, NASCAR, AUSCAR, GT Production, AMSCAR and Sports Sedan Championships throughout his 40-plus year career.
Central Coast NSW-raised Skaife holds six Bathurst 1000 wins and reigned supreme during the most dominant era of the Holden Racing Team, taking three successive Australian Touring Car Championships between the year 2000 and 2002. These three Championships added to his 1992 and 1994 ATCC wins.
Whilst at the top of Touring Car racing, Skaife was also a well-renowned open-wheel exponent winning three consecutive Australian Drivers’ Championships in Formula Holden in 1991, 1992 and 1993.
He won three of his Bathursts with Richards, before joining with Tony Longhurst (2001), Todd Kelly (2005) and his final 1000 win came with Craig Lowndes in 2010.
As well as a Le Mans 24 Hour race start in 1997 in a Lister Jaguar, Skaife holds a Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest recorded speed in a production Ute, getting a Holden Maloo up to 277.16km/h at the Woomera Rocket Range in 2006.
Awarded an Order of Australia medal (OAM) in 2004, Skaife would own the Holden Racing Team and is now a leading authority on the sport of Supercars racing through his role with Supercars Media and advisory role on circuit development. He is also the driving force behind the new-for-2017 CAMS Foundation Rising Star program in the CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship.
Skaife will line up in a team ironically owned by Richards’ son Steven for the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2017 where he will drive a BMW M6 GT3 with Longhurst and old rival, Russell Ingall.
The Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame Gala forms part of the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix weekend in Melbourne and will take place on Friday night, March 24.
Tickets for the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame Induction Gala, presented by Speedcafe.com are now on sale at www.cams.com.au/tickets.
It will be held on Friday night, March 24 (Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix weekend) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre at 7:30pm for an 8pm start.
Corporate sponsorship packages and group tables are available by contacting Marie Dinsdale at CAMS on (03) 9593 7769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUOTES FROM THE FIRST TWO 2017 INDUCTEES:
“When I set out racing back in New Zealand, I never thought about accolades. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have raced alongside and against some of the best over my time.
“Every win regardless of whether it was a Bathurst with Brock or a Targa Tasmania with Barry Oliver - my rally co-driver for nearly 25 years - it’s always enjoyable and winning is something that naturally you set out to do.
“Racing is as much about the relationships you build and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great relationships with manufacturers throughout the years and being inducted into the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame is a nod to the people that have been around me. I’ve worked with and for the best in the business, none more so than Mark Skaife. Not only is it an honour to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but to be announced with my good friend makes it a bit more special.
“We had some memorable moments in the GT-R together - Championships and two Bathurst victories in ‘91 and of course ‘92.
“It is a great honour to be named as the first of the class of 2017 and I cannot wait to be at the induction ceremony on March 24 next year in Melbourne. Last year’s inaugural dinner was a great success and they tell me they have a few special things planned for March.”
“The Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame is a great initiative from the motor sport governing bodies in Australia.
“I’m very proud to be acknowledged as one of those drivers and riders that will be inducted next year into the Hall of Fame in Melbourne.
“When you reflect back on your time in the sport - I’ve been around some of the greats, but I don’t think there are too many as good as Jim Richards. Richo and the Nissan Motor Company were instrumental in my career development in the early stages and we had a great deal of success together.
“To think that we won Bathurst three times together - and 10 years apart from that day in 1992 to 2002 shows just how good Jim was and still is.
“For me, this Award means a lot. 2017 is a huge year, continuing the Bathurst journey at the 12 Hour in February with BMW and Steven (Richards), being able to give back to the sport through the Formula 4 Rising Star program and accepting this Award on Grand Prix weekend in March means that it is going to be a very, very special year.
“Jimmy and I are both proud to be the first to be announced as joining the illustrious list of recipients from the inaugural event and we look forward to seeing who the rest of the inductees are in the class of 2017. The Hall of Fame dinner is shaping as one of the biggest nights on the Australian motor sport calendar.”
GARRY CONNELLY - HALL OF FAME CHAIRMAN
“The inaugural Australian Motor sport Hall of Fame event was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to building on that foundation in 2017,” said Connelly.
“We are delighted to be able to announce Jim Richards and Mark Skaife as our next two inductees. They have both made such an enormous contribution to our sport in and out of the car and some of their biggest achievements actually came while working together.
“We have another incredible list of recipients to be inducted in March and have some special surprises for the dinner which we are confident will be a sell out after the amazing success of last year’s inaugural event.
“We are delighted to have Speedcafe.com back as our presenting and media partner and look forward to hosting some of the biggest names in Australian and world motor sport at our event on March 24.”
JIM RICHARDS CAREER TITLES:
Bathurst 1000 wins: 1978, 1979, 1980 - w/ Peter Brock; 1991, 1992, 2002 - w/ Mark Skaife; 1998 - w/ Rickard Rydell
Australian Touring Car Championship: 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991
Sandown 500: 1985 - w/ Tony Longhurst, 1989 - w/ Mark Skaife
Targa Tasmania: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006
Australian Nations Cup Championship: 2000, 2001, 2002
AMSCAR Touring Car Series: 1985, 1992
Australian Endurance Championship: 1985, 1986
Australian GT Production Championship: 1995, 1999
Touring Car Masters Championship: 2010, 2013
Porsche Carrera Cup: 2003
Australian NASCAR Superspeedway Championship: 1996
AUSCAR Superspeedway Championship: 1987/1988 season
New Zealand Saloon Car Title: 1972, 1974, 1975
Australian Sports Sedan Title: 1976
MARK SKAIFE CAREER TITLES:
Bathurst 1000 wins: 1991, 1992, 2002 - w/ Jim Richards; 2001 - w/ Tony Longhurst; 2005 - w/ Todd Kelly; 2010 - w/ Craig Lowndes
Australian Touring Car Championships: 1992, 1994, 2000, 2001, 2002
Sandown 500: 1989 - w/ Jim Richards; 2003 - w/ Todd Kelly
Australian Driver’s Championship: 1991, 1992, 1993
Australian 2.0L Touring Car Champion: 1987
Le Mans 24 Hour start: 1997
Victorian Laser Series Champion: 1986
Order of Australia Medal: 2004
Guinness World Record: 2006 - HSV Maloo, 277.16kph, fastest production Ute in the world
AUSTRALIAN MOTOR SPORT HALL OF FAME - INDUCTEES (Inducted in March 2016):
Mick Doohan (Motorcycling)
Sir Jack Brabham (Circuit Racing)
James Courtney (Karting)
Jason Crump (Speedway)
Casey Stoner (Motorcycling)
Troy Bayliss (Motorcycling)
Wayne Gardner (Motorcycling)
Gregg Hansford (Motorcycling & Circuit Racing)
Kel Carruthers (Motorcycling)
Jeff Leisk (Motorcycling)
Stephen Gall (Motorcycling)
Alan Jones (Circuit Racing)
Mark Burrows (Off-Road Racing)
Ash Marshall (Drag Racing)
Garry Rush (Speedway)
Frank Matich (Circuit Racing)
Allan Moffat (Circuit Racing)
Peter Brock (Circuit Racing)
Ross Dunkerton (Rallying)
Dick Johnson (Circuit Racing)
Colin Bond (Rallying & Circuit Racing)
Bob Jane (Circuit Racing)
Phil Irving (Engineering)
Harry Firth (Circuit Racing)
Ray Revell (Speedway)
Donald Kingsley Thomson (Administration)
Jack Young (Speedway)
Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray (Off-Road Racing)
Norman ‘Wizard’ Smith (Land Speed Record)
Lionel van Praag (Speedway)