While key members of our team were at the weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, our editor was on tour and visited Oulton Park on Saturday for AMOC Racing’s meeting and had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a classic touring car in race action. The Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 of Carey McMahon had made its European debut the weekend before at the HSCC’s Brands Hatch meeting, and the Australian enthusiast decided that another run was in order so ventured to Oulton for the first time.
It was a hardly a successful trip, the turbo-charged two litre engine under the bonnet deciding it didn’t like several alternator belts, but it did give us the opportunity to talk to Carey about the car which had set the quickest time in qualifying for 1990’s Bathurst 1000km race:
“The car set the quickest time in practice for the 1000km at Bathurst, but didn’t take pole as there was another session just for the top ten cars. Tony Longhurst did an incredible time in practice, but couldn’t replicate that when going for pole.
"It was was built to win at Bathurst, and it was built left-hand drive as Bathurst is an anti-clockwise track and the theory is that you can position the car better if you are on the inside of most of the corners. It was built to win, but hit overheating problems in the race and didn't even finish.
“It only did 11 race meetings back in the day, then it was put not a private collection for 23-years and just sat there. We bought it in 2015, and it was only because I was well known for racing Group A cars, I had just sold the 1991 Bathurst winning Nissan Skyline GTR that Mark Skaife and Jim Richards raced, and I convinced then to sell me the car.
“It is all original paintwork, has never had a panel damaged, the only think we did was paint the front bumper as it had a lot of stone chips on it. We did a mechanical restoration then raced in 2016, 17 and 18 and won everyone in Group A in Australia, and we thought it was time to go and race it somewhere else.
“It was wet in qualifying this morning and these cars are a real handful in the wet. It wants to step out at every moment and the power comes in like a hand-grenade going off, you have to feed the throttle in and make sure the car is going in a straight-line before putting the power down.
“We will be doing the Silverstone Classic, which was an obvious place to go, there will be some quick RS500s out in that race so it should be really good.”
In qualifying at Bathurst in 1990 Tony Longhurst set a new record time of 2m13.85s, going just a hundredth of a second quicker than the time set by George Fury in his Nissan Bluebird in 1984, Longhurst recorded at 180mph down the straight. That put the car in to the Toohey’s Top Ten shoot-out for pole, but a mistake from Longhurst saw him two seconds slower and only fifth quickest. In the race, Longhurst and co-drover Mark McLaughlin retired after 53 laps.