The Tasman Series 1964-1969
The Tasman Series of races began in 1961 and was formalised in 1964 with the introduction of the Tasman Cup, competed for over a number of rounds in Australia and New Zealand. So successful was this formula that it ran until the end of the decade when overseas pressures led to the introduction in Australia of Formula 5000 from 1970.
In each of the early 60s, after the Formula One brigade had ceased competition during the northern winter, some of the drivers and the manufacturers turned their sights to the sunny antipodes. In 1961 such famous names as Brabham, Moss, Hill, Gurney, Salvadori and Ireland made their way out to New Zealand and Australia to compete in Cooper, Lotus and BRM Formula One cars from the season just past.
For the summer of January 1962, the word had really spread and from overseas Brabham, Clark, Surtees, Moss and McLaren joined the other Europe-based drivers. And for the first time there was a car called the MRD, the first racing car constructed by our own Jack Brabham and the only racing car given that name as all subsequent cars were known as Brabham BTs.
The ‘63 summer season was the same, but by now there was a realisation that a series could be formulated around what was a number of unrelated races in both New Zealand and Australia. And so for the 64 season the Tasman Championship for the Tasman Cup was launched.
The Tasman Championship became a huge success, with many thousands of spectators turning up to watch the best drivers in the world compete at our Australian venues. Every world champion driver in the 1960s raced on Australian tracks during the period.
Of course Sydney’s venue was the spectacular Warwick Farm circuit, built around the Australian Jockey Club’s famous horse racing track. The internationals found this to be very challenging. Although at first glance it looked fast and sweeping, it was in fact a very difficult track to master. The larger-engined cars did not enjoy too much advantage over their smaller-engined brethren as they did at Sandown and Longford with their very long fast straights, so “the Farm” was always a very popular place for all of our local homegrown heroes. Eastern Creek International Raceway is a bit like Warwick Farm.
Between 1964 and 1969 under the 2.5 litre Formula, 22 Tasman races were contested in Australia, and 24 races conducted in New Zealand.
From January 1970 the formula was changed to F5000. Expansion of the Formula One season at that time meant the Formula One teams had no time to make the journey “downunder”. Although the Tasman races continued, the series had taken another direction.