After doing his driving apprenticeship and terrorising the locals on the streets of the Dundas area in outer Sydney where he grew up Phil Ward turned to the track entering his first race in a modified 105E Ford Anglia at the Warwick Farm short circuit in an AARC club race meeting in 1969. He diced with a Simca and a Zephyr to narrowly take the win.
The Anglia was developed in the sports racing closed class over the next couple of seasons with the help of identities of the era including Jesse Griffiths, Dave Mawer and Barry Sharp
The Anglia sported a range of power plants from a 113E 1340cc to 116E 1500cc later supercharged then taken out to 1760cc and later replaced with a BRM tuned Lotus Twin Cam. The car was raced continually at almost every eastern state circuit including Hume Weir, Catalina Park and Bathurst and many times at the famous Warwick Farm Grand Prix Circuit .The Lotus Anglia was written off in a crash at Surfers Paradise during the1972 new years meeting.
Over the next couple of years the Giant Killer Ford Escort sports sedan was built by Ward in his performance tuning workshop in outer suburban Sydney known then as Wardspeed Automotive The ex Piers Courage Cosworth FVA engine was purchased in damaged condition from Pat Bourke Racing and restored by Ward and installed into the Escort . The 5 speed dog engagement gearbox coupled to it was one of the first production units built by Peter Holinger, it was such an early unit the shift pattern was even mirror reversed to the norm to enable fitting all the gears in. The chassis engineering was very advanced for its time being fitted with wishbone front suspension and parallel trailing arms and watts linkage rear all of Wards design and manufacture.
During the long build of the Escort Wardie had guest drives in various cars including a Nota Clubman and Cooper S at places like Catalina Park Katoomba.
From 1976 the Escort became well known as the giant killer being campaigned in hard charging style by Ward predominately at Sydney’s Amaroo Park and Oran Park circuits In 1978 Ward and his Escort FVA teamed up with Phil Lucas and his Volvo Chev to form the Wrigley’s 2UW Racing team with the help of Ken Sparkes (the current voice of 9). The Escort was later updated with an early model Cosworth BDG engine purchased from Gary Rogers when he updated to a later model BDG unit. Ward and Rogers had many memorable duals and throughout the era Ward claimed numerous class and outright wins and lap records on virtually every circuit where the car appeared in the National Championship.
In 1979 Ward was looking to compete at a higher national level and with help from Bob Jane and sponsorship from Channel Ten he purchased the fearsome 650BHP Bob Jane Monaro sports sedan. These were the halcyon days of the big banger sports sedans and over the next couple of seasons racing under the banner of NSW Building Society/Channel Ten Racing Team Wardie claimed no less than 30 victories in the mighty machine regularly eclipsing the likes of Tony Edmondson (Alfetta Chev) Allan Moffat (Chev Monza) Jim Richards (Big M Falcon) Allan Grice (Craven Mild Corvair Chev) and John Briggs (Chev Monza).
At his home track Oran Park, Wardie smashed the sports sedan lap record down to a remarkable level for the era of 40.9 which stood for over 10 years.
The motor racing “giants” meet! Phil Ward and Ken Sparkes on the pit wall at INDY. Phil and Ken go way back to when he scared the opposition in his Ford Escort and earned the name “The Angry Ant!” Ken organised sponsorship when he was running 2UW now MIXFM.
Over the next few seasons Ward drove various touring cars to mixed successes including the Masterton Homes Group C Falcon, the George Shepherd Suttons Motors Gemini and the Ted Homeyer Chevelle Motors BMW.
In the years to 1986 Ward developed the most successful Phil Ward Turbo business to become the industry leader from the Haberfield premises with the major business focus being fitting Turbo kits into the new car trade.
In this same year Ward was developing a reputation among a group of corporate motorsport enthusiasts as an exceptional performance engineer and track day organiser for his running of weekday high speed events at Oran Park. Ward recognised the opportunity to develop a new market for those and others wanting to enjoy motorsport mid week and thus Kart Blanche was born. This unique Go Kart operation was designed to enable the corporate set to enjoy kart racing at a competitive but very social level. All the Karts were housed, maintained and transported by Ward, the drivers being able to just turn up and clean their visor and race with everything being done for them. Kart Blanche is still in operation and with the exception of January each year which is too hot for enjoyable motorsport Ward has staged an event on a Wednesday every month since its inception.
In 1987 Ward formed a friendship with business man Lynden Riethmuller and Reithmuller Ward International Motorsport was formed. Again with the help of Bob Jane they secured the 2 Helmet Marko AMG Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 16 Group A cars Jane had brought out for Bathurst.
The cars were found to be uncompetitive in Australian racing so Ward and his small team set about a full redevelopment program enabling them to compete competitively in the ATCC.
Under Ward’s engineering and driving prowess the next couple of seasons saw the Mercedes Team’s speed constantly improve as the cars were campaigned at selected events. The Mercedes were technically difficult cars to race and the team’s development was a tribute in itself to Ward as he not only assembled and developed his own engines but passed on some of the technical advances he had made with the German factory.
In 1990 Ward secured backing from Monroe Australia for his Mercedes-Benz team. He engineered the car and drove it to victory in that years Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst (class B) Ward won class B in the Monroe Mercedes at every round contested in the 1990 ATCC including the inaugural Eastern Creek meeting which hosted the manufacturers championship round the Nissan 500.
When the ATCC went all V8 and Group A was dropped the Mercs were put into mothballs for a couple of seasons still in their European Group A configuration.
With no immediate racing plans during 91/92 Ward turned his motorsport experience to the setting up of NSW biggest and best Indoor Sprint Kart Raceways. The first with a massive electronic timing board and enduro racing format, the other with a huge flyover and next generation timing system with specially built Karts all to Wards design and manufacture. Wardies facilities were recognised as the benchmark for the industry and he was instrumental in forming the NSW Indoor Karting Association.
phil-mb2In 1993 the 2.0 Litre Championship was taking the world by storm and when announced it would be extended to Australia the 2 Mercedes-Benz Group A spec cars were brought out of mothballs and re engineered to the British regs. With major sponsorship support from Nokia Ward campaigned them in the inaugural Australian 2.0 Litre Super Touring Championship.
In 1994 Mercedes-Benz AMG offered Ward an ex DTM Evolution II 190 2.5 16 factory built race car formerly run by the Zakspeed Team in the German Touring Car Championship for him to convert and run in the Australian series. After the DTM car was modified by Ward to 2.0 Litre specs the original 2 Marko Mercedes were retired.
Ward’s performances as a Privateer in the Super Touring Championship were outstanding considering the tough competition he faced in the factory backed Brad Jones Audi and Paul Morris BMW teams.
In 1994 the team purchased a VP Commodore from Larry Perkins which Ward drove for the first time at Bathurst where he amazed the regular competition by qualifying the car just out of the top ten and easily being fastest Privateer. Steven Ellery had his first outing in a V8 as Ward’s co driver at the event. The Mercedes was driven by Jamie Miller and journo Peter Mckay with Wardie again showing his versatility both driving the V8 and managing the 2 car Bathurst assault.
In the following couple of seasons after the V8 was sold Ward turned his attention to expanding Kart Blanche and organising some other track days. During this period it became evident that the weekday events were taking on a change and Ward looked to offer something new to the many competitors.
In 1996 Aussie Racing Cars was born. Over a 2 year period the prototype car was painstakingly built by Ward undergoing extensive track testing without the body fitted. Initially the car was developed for the Kart Blanche track days to be pitched at the corporate market. The first cars were sold to those who were regular competitors at Kart Blanche and those early cars were run firstly at the week day meetings and then as more cars were sold the events were extended to weekend meetings. The manufacture of the cars was slow initially with orders coming gradually and not offering any promise of continuity although the public vibes were positive and Ward could see there was potential to develop as a true racing class. During this early period events were staged at Go Kart tracks where the versatility of the little projectiles was demonstrated and proven. Invitations were then extended to Ward from promoters of the bigger meetings at the mainstream circuits and the acceptance of Aussie Racing Cars as true racing category was on the way.
The manufacturing was stepped up and moved to dedicated premises and although all the cars are fully hand built the increase in orders meant more of a production line assembly system could be employed. Phil Ward is supported by his 2 sons James and Brad in the manufacture of the cars and running the category. All 3 race in the series in the constant quest for perfection of the marque.
The growth of the category took a huge leap forward when AVESCO recognised its entertainment potential and extended an invitation to Phil Ward for Aussie Racing Cars to come on board as an official support category to the V8 Supercars in 2003 with the 7 round series to be extended to at least 8 rounds in 2004.
Ward has struck a landmark deal with CAMS in an exclusive management agreement that will guarantee the category has stability till 2010 and beyond.
Ward’s vast understanding of the industry and his expertise in it encompasses Driving, Engineering, Team ownership, Entrepreneurial talents and Event organisation. When considered under those joint roles he has few equals. Wardie’s achievements are clearly recognised by the critics in their accolades for all aspects of Aussie Racing Cars from the sensational performance and driveability through to the market acceptance and category positioning.
Phil Ward is a unique and experienced personality in the motor sport arena and if you choose to have an involvement in the Aussie Racing Car category you will be sharing in that wealth of experience.