Frequently voted the most entertaining support category at Australian V8 Supercar events, the Aussie Racing Cars (ARC) class makes its international debut at New Zealand’s Highlands Motorsport Park later this month.
The Highlands Festival of Speed connected by ENZED takes place over the weekend of 30 January to 1 February and the speedy, half-size ARC pocket rockets will be a key on-track attraction during the festival.
“We’re expecting around 25 ARC drivers on the grid at Highlands,” says Brad Ward, ARC category manager. “Dubbed the ‘weekend warriors’ because they’re all racing for the fun of it, our ARC competitors are travelling to Central Otago from across Australia to experience the breathtaking scenery and challenging circuit at Highlands Motorsport Park. Without doubt, the opening ARC round of the 2015 season at Highlands is one we’ve all been looking forward to.”
The first Aussie Racing Car was built in 1996 by Australian touring car racer Phil Ward who developed a nationwide race series which saw the first national championship taking place in 2001. The series grew rapidly to become one of the strongest national championships in Australia with up to 70 cars built and sold in the following 10 years. In 2012 the ARC series and manufacturing businesses were purchased by Tony Quinn.
Ward says: “Under Tony’s leadership, a full review of the cars chassis and design was undertaken and a number of major upgrades announced to improve the technology used in the original Aussie Racing cars and make the cars faster and more reliable. This launched the next major phase of growth. In the past two years, we have designed five new body shapes and built and sold over 25 brand-new ARC race cars. The newest body shapes, the Camaro and Mustang, were launched in October 2014 at Mount Panorama Bathurst.
“Now one of Australia’s largest race categories, in 2014 ARC marked its tenth anniversary of being a support category for V8 Supercars. In 2015 the series contests a New Zealand round for the first time with this weekend’s Highlands Festival of Speed and then continues with six events as an official support category of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship.”
Powered by a 1.2-litre, 125 bhp, twin cam, 16 valve engine that revs to 11,500 rpm and weighing only 450kg, the ARC machines have an incredible power-to-weight ratio and will easily reach 230 km/h or more on the Highlands’ circuit straights.
“Their lap times surprise many race fans and on numerous circuits, the cornering speeds of these little pocket rockets are even higher than those achieved by V8 Supercars,” says Ward.
Constructed on a purpose-built space frame chassis, the cars sport one of ten composite panel designs, including the classic 40 Ford and FJ Holden body styles, Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Holden Cruze, Nissan Altima and Toyota Aurion styles replicating the latest road-going models, plus a Euro GT option and, more recently, American muscle car-inspired Mustang and Camaro styles. All cars are approximately half the size of their full-sized counterparts and all mechanically identical.
“It’s not uncommon for ARC competitors to be racing five or six wide – to see this intense race action with a big field on some of Highlands’ ultra-challenging corners is going to be very exciting!”
Among the ARC competitors heading to Highlands is newly-crowned 2014 champion Darren Chamberlin (NSW) sporting the aspirational number one on his Toyota Aurion. Chamberlin aims to start the new season, continuing his dominance over the field which lead to his championship title. Ward reckons, pushing Chamberlin along will be last year’s runner-up Brendon Pingel (QLD) and Peter Carr (NSW).
“The Highlands’ event will sees as many as five brand-new Camaro and Mustang ARC models on-track in what will be the first full season for the new body shapes which were launched by Tony Quinn (Mustang) and Phil Ward (Camaro) at Mount Panorama Bathurst in last year,” Ward adds.
“Teams were quick to snap up the new cars with Western Sydney Motorsport’s Craig Thompson launching his new ARC Mustang Super Team. Thompson took delivery of two brand-new Mustang ARCs in the off-season and this year joins forces with Craig Woods to campaign three Mustangs under the Western Sydney Motorsport Banner with major backing from Sinclair Ford.
“The Highlands Festival of Speed is going to be the most exciting start to the ARC season in the category’s history!”
The three-day festival also features the first trans-Tasman battle on this side of the Tasman between the Australian ENZED Touring Car Masters and the ENZED Central Muscle Cars and racing from four well-supported categories of classic saloons and open wheelers. On-track action gets underway on Friday 30 January with practice and qualifying sessions, as well as the first two races. Saturday’s packed timetable includes 12 races plus free pit-lane and track walks, a fascinating variety of classic, vintage, retro and custom cars, motorcycles, caravans and boats in the Highlands Classic Motor Show and lots of family-friendly entertainment. On Sunday, the Here’s Tae Ye wine and food festival takes place in a marquee on the National Motorsport Museum terrace, as well as the Classic Motor Show, entertainment from the Buckingham Belles cancan troupe and a Fashion in the Field competition.
Pre-event tickets are available to purchase online from Ticket Direct or from the Highlands’ museum office – an adult pass is $39 for Saturday only, $49 for Sunday only or both days (a weekend pass) for $80. Children under 16 years of age have free entry with a paying adult. Tickets are also available at the gate; save $10 on each ticket option by purchasing before the event.
More information about the ENZED Highlands Festival of Speed and all regular Highlands Motorsport Park attractions is available on the venue’s website www.highlands.co.nz, or visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HighlandsMotorsportPark.
For further comment, please contact:
Brad Ward, Category Manager, Aussie Racing Cars
For further information, alternative and/or high res images and event detail, please contact:
Kate Gordon-Smith, On-Event Media Manager, Highlands Motorsport Park
M: 021 587 227