The End Of The Road
V8X Supercar Magazine|December 2019 - January 2020 Issue 114
After 24 consecutive seasons in the Australian Touring Car Championship/Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Garry Rogers Motorsport will withdraw from the category at the end of 2019. The Victorian-based team leaves a legacy of developing a number of leading drivers, including this season’s record breaker.
Adrian Musolino

It seems fitting albeit bittersweet that Garry Rogers Motorsport’s final season in Supercars coincided with a record-breaking run for one of its greatest products, Scott McLaughlin. After all, since Garry Rogers Motorsport entered the championship in 1996, it has been a breeding ground for young talent. And even though the team may not have won a championship, three drivers who got their break there (McLaughlin, Jamie Whincup, and Garth Tander) have won 10 of the last 13 titles.

Following a stellar driving career, Garry Rogers turned his attention to team ownership and ran cars in various categories before committing to the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1996. Young gun Steven Richards won the privateers’ title for the team in that first season, followed by a second-place alongside father Jim Richards at Bathurst in 1997.

Another rising star made his mark with the team with the arrival of Garth Tander in 1998. While teammate Jason Bargwanna claimed the team’s first race win at Calder Park Raceway in 1998, Tander went on to take the team’s first-round win at Queensland Raceway in 1999.

The combination emerged as a genuine challenger to the then-dominant Holden Racing Team in 2000, in what would prove to be Garry Rogers Motorsport’s most successful season. Tander finished in second place in the championship behind Mark Skaife, though the Garry Rogers Motorsport duo prevailed at a very wet Mount Panorama to win the Bathurst 1000.

The team couldn’t sustain that level of success with Tander moving on to the factory-backed HSV Dealer Team in 2005. There were, though, some memorable moments before the team challenged for a title again: a last-lap pass for the win for Cameron McConville at Winton Motor Raceway in 2004; a first win for Lee Holdsworth in the rain at Oran Park Raceway in 2007; a strategic gamble giving Michael Caruso the win at Hidden Valley Raceway followed by a recovery from a spin to the podium at Bathurst for Holdsworth and Caruso in 2009; and a race win for Holdsworth at Sydney Olympic Park in 2010.

The tide turned for Garry Rogers Motorsport with the arrival of teenage sensation McLaughlin, who just hours after winning the Dunlop Super2 Series title was given his solo main-game debut with the team at Sydney Olympic Park in 2012.

With the introduction of the Car of the Future rulebook and the VF Commodore in 2013, McLaughlin and Garry Rogers Motorsport had the chance to impress in a season when the playing field had been leveled.

McLaughlin won on home soil at Pukekohe Park Raceway, just six races into the season, to become the youngest winner of a race in the championship’s history. Another win at Queensland Raceway and a top 10 in the standings rounded out an impressive first season.

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