With General Motors' announcement that the Holden brand will be discontinued at the end of 2020, the sport formerly called as Supercar Racing is immediately faced with the monumental issue of reimagining itself without either its two primary characters.
This is a watershed moment for the sport, if not quite as significant as the 1992 decision to restrict imported turbocharged cars in favour of a showdown involving V8-powered Ford Falcons & Holden Commodores. The issue now is that the Falcon and also the Commodore are both dead, victims of indifference on the part of the Australian public.
Where does the future of this sport lie? Where do we stand, what choices do we have? Is there anyone who can match Holden's performance on the track and even in the memories of fans?
The CEO of Supercars Australia, Sean Seamer, is currently hard at work developing a strategy for 2021 that will also strengthen the division in the years following. Fans may rest assured that preparations had already begun by the time Holden announced in late 2019 that it will no longer produce the Commodore model, the car currently utilised in Supercars.
Although the news of GM's decision to discontinue production of the Holden was unexpected, according to Seamer, it would not affect the company's future course of action. "We are in the midst of a procedure, during which we are having discussions with our partners, including manufacturers such as GM, about our plans for the coming year. In the next weeks, we will decide which of these 2022 goals to bring forwards into 2021."
The so-called "Gen3" standards were supposed to be introduced for the 2022 season, and they'd require all teams to modify their chassis and roll cages to allow two-door sports car bodywork. Holden Special-Vehicles in Melbourne imports Chevrolet Camaros owned by General Motors and converts them to right-hand drive. Ryan Walkinshaw, driver for HSV and the Walkinshaw-Andretti United Supercars team, is the owner and team leader. His desire in racing his Camaro has been previously stated, but he has said nothing regarding it this week, regardless of the fact that Holden has been discontinued.
The Camaro's smaller body doesn't match the present roll-cage design, but Seamer is open to the idea of incorporating the Gen3 updates in 2021. Yet he cautioned that the race teams, some of whom are allegedly already financially strapped, couldn't afford to make too many alterations.
The difficulty is that if Supercars switched to two-door sports cars, like the Camaro and Mustang did, one of the two would likely go out of business like Holden. The question of who else might join in remains unanswered.
After Holden’s Demise, Where Will Supercars Go From Here?
The future of supercars is more uncertain than it has ever been due to one perfect storm of factors that threatens to cause tremendous changes, if not chaos.
The unexpected turn of events was the demise of Holden, which was announced right when two crucial accords for the future of Supercars were being negotiated. Two major events are on the horizon: the impending sale of the company, and a new broadcast rights arrangement that will serve as a financial foundation for the next few years.
Supercars is also looking ahead to 2022 and attempting to figure out the design specifications for the next generations of V8 racers in an effort to entice new manufacturers and implement necessary cost savings.
The announcement that Holden will end the year couldn't have come at a worse time, at least from the outside looking in. Supercars anticipated a world without the Commodore, a mainstay in Australian tour car racing until 1980, but not a one in which General Motors played a negligible role in the auto industry.
To put it bluntly, it's like the AFL minus Collingwood or Formula 1 without Ferrari.
Gen3, the forthcoming major rules revision, is designed to make it easier & cheaper for manufacturers - and teams - to compete with a larger selection of two-door body styles, thus it was always the idea to replace the Commodore even with the Chevy Camaro to fight against the Ford Mustang.
At first, Gen3 was supposed to be a refinement of the present Gen2 guidelines, which were an outgrowth of the groundbreaking 2013 Car-of-the-Future laws.
While Gen2 did bring the Mustang back to the local top-line tour car racing (and with it, a limited return in terms of factory sponsorship for Ford), it failed to tempt any new manufacturers or engine configurations.
Now in its third generation, Supercars once again welcomes vehicles powered by engines other than V8s and is even considering hybrids, but not right away.
Another issue with Gen2 is that the mutant Mustang resulted from trying to fit a low-line 2-door body type onto the Supercars command chassis, which was originally developed for four-door sedans. Supercars always looked very like their donor street-legal counterparts, despite the fact that every modern race car has been modified to match the chassis proportions established in the late 1990s.
Due to the Mustang racer's ungainly appearance, Walkinshaw Andretti United (previously Holden's factory team) abandoned plans to create a Supercars Camaro.
Since WAU's HSV subsidiary imports and "re-manufactures" Chevy's Mustang rival, the team was extremely cautious about racing a damaged Camaro.
With support from Detroit, HSV is likely to morph into the GM Specialty-Vehicles company mentioned as the future presence of the brand in Australia and to shift from the Commodore to the Camaro in Supercars.
The fact that the Camaro's future as a road car is unclear beyond 2023/24 is also something to think about, unlike the Mustang's. The next-generation Mustang, which will presumably continue to be produced in right-hand driving, is scheduled to debut in the latter half of 2021, giving Ford ample time to adjust the proportions of the car to conform more closely to the Gen3 regulations.
A continuation of Ford's participation in Supercars is of interest to Ford Australia & Ford Performance throughout the United States, but only when there is strong rivalry from other manufacturers, whether they be red or otherwise.
Supercars management must secure the sport's economic future and determine its ownership in the midst of this upheaval and uncertainty. The first is necessary for the second.
In What Ways Will Supercars Be Affected by Holden’s Demise?
Holdens probably wouldn't have lasted long in Supercars competition even if GM hadn't decided to kill off the brand. The current factory agreement, which is set to endure until the end of 2021, has always felt like it would be the final one for Holden in the conventional sense.
Then, in the best situation, a competitive Camaro or Corvette backed by GM would take the place of the discontinued Commodore. Nothing about that is guaranteed to alter.
The death of Holden, though, has made 2022 the most challenging date for Supercars. As a matter of fact, it might be a whole year too late.
Let's review the past quickly before moving on to the future.
Holden is a symbol of Australia because it was the country's first and only automaker. The Commodore, together with the Australian-made Ford Falcon, was a major player for as much since there was a fad for midsize sedans. What went wrong, and so when did it start?
A once-revered producer's demise can't be traced to a single cause. Some others say this is because of the government's shifting subsidising policies, which did not adequately safeguard the domestic sector.
The loss of local production didn't help matters, and neither did the fact that the Commodore name was placed on a rear-wheel-drive European car that didn't provide a V8 engine.
It was a bad marketing move to shift focus to the SUV sector, which is driven by Japanese & South Korean brands. Another obvious and costly issue is that the Australian market is limited, and that drivers must shift to the right because the steering is located on the left.
GM's commercial argument is quite clear: target the large and lucrative left-hand-drive countries (China and the United States), and let other companies bear the higher engineering costs associated with the right-hand-drive market.
After Holden's demise, fans of the Supercar genre have been understandably pessimistic about the genre's long-term viability. Does the show need Ford vs. Holden to continue?
The truth is that it was inevitable. When Holden announced the Commodore's removal from dealerships last year, it seemed improbable that the automaker would strike a new deal focused on the four-door model. Spending on a Camaro or Corvette was up next for GM, and they are the kinds of cars that the new Gen3 standards are most likely to accommodate.
However, Holden's tragedy comes at an inopportune time. Due to the existing Holden contract and the 2022 release of Gen3, 2021 will be the Commodore's farewell song.
There's still a good possibility that it will.
There aren't any technical concerns because the Commodore is indeed a homologated-Supercar (the Falcon continued racing well after Ford stopped offering it). If the factory financing does dry up as predicted, Triple Eight can rebrand as Red Bull Australia and continue competing for another season.
The fact that Holden won't be a real person is strange, but it's not a deal breaker.
Supercars has said publicly that they are considering the second option, which is to bring forwards some aspects of Gen3.
Perhaps even a two-door project can be pushed through for 2021 if GM's plans for a 'GM Special-Vehicles' division in Australia are serious. Possible best candidate to achieve this goal is Ryan Walkinshaw. His Melbourne-based HSV firm is expected to play a significant role in GM's rumoured GMSV strategy, given that it transforms Camaros to right-hand driving with GM's approval.
Walkinshaw had previously attempted to enter the Camaro into Supercars, but he waited in the hopes that Gen3 would introduce a control chassis more suited to two-doors.
That might be something that can be done quickly to keep GM excited.
In 2021, Will Holden Automobiles Be Available for Purchase From the Public?
There are no uncertainties regarding 2020; teams have already agreed to their cars for the season. Just what would happen to the teams that Holden now sponsors, most notably the Holden Racing Team of Red Bull, is an open question (RBHRT).
The agreement between them is valid through the 2021 season. After Holden's declaration, RBHRT CEO Roland Dane spoke with the press and promised to sit down with the leadership team to plot out next year.
Holden is set to pay out the final year of its deal, which will be relatively tiny compared to the $1 billion bill GM is anticipating to wind down the company and withdraw from all right-hand-drive markets, includes Thailand and New Zealand.
To put it from a racing team's perspective, by now every Holden team in the pit lane has probably called Ford to see if they'd be willing to help them switch to such a Mustang in '21. Even if new manufacturers enter the market, they may continue racing their Commodores by at least another year. Despite ending manufacture at Broadmeadows in 2016, the Ford Falcon retained the Championship in 2018.
The Future of Supercars
There are only a few months left for CEO of Supercars Australia, Sean Seamer to come up with a strategy to salvage the sport, and they are going to be exceedingly challenging. In 2022, the series planned to implement the "Gen3" regulations that it expects will attract additional manufacturers to the category.
Mr. Seamer acknowledges that, with Holden out of the picture, the Gen3 regulations, or at least aspects of them, may be implemented in 2021 to aid in the search for a Commodore successor.
Mr. Seamer stated, "While this news [regarding Holden] is unexpected, it does not alter our intentions." "We are in the midst of a procedure, during which we are having discussions with our partners, including manufacturers such as GM, about our plans for the coming year. In the next weeks, we will decide which of these 2022 goals to bring forwards into 2021."
Can We Expect GM to Race Something Else in the Future?
Many in the industry are hopeful that the Chevy Camaro can be recruited in to replace the Commodore, so the unexpected exit of Holden may speed up the Gen3 plans.
Holden's chairman Kristian Aquilina and GM Global chief Julian Blissett both mentioned plans for a GM Specialty-Vehicles business at the news of Holden's closure. This division would be responsible for producing and selling smaller quantities of speciality vehicles like the Camaro and the Corvette.
There is already a programme like this in place; in Melbourne, Holden Special Vehicles imports and modifies Camaros. Ryan Walkinshaw, who more or less owns and operates the Walkinshaw-Andretti United Supercars squad, is the man behind that business. He has expressed a desire to race a Camaro in the past but has been prevented from doing so due to rules.
The Camaro is hoping that Gen3 will change the regulations to let it play. A large void left by Holden must be filled by a relatively small company, which places enormous strain on that company. However, if Supercars backs the Camaro's inclusion in the 2021 grid, it has a good chance of being there.
The Corvette is extremely unlikely to appear in a Supercars race. Mr Seamer has ruled out bringing the new middle-engined sports vehicle into the sport, despite GM's ambitions to sell it within Australia (presumably through HSV dealers). He thinks it would be too difficult and too distant from the touring vehicle concept that foundations the sport to try to strike a competitive balancing between such front-engined Mustang and the mid-mounted Corvette.
Who Would Want to Purchase Supercars?
The Australian Racing Club is the first organisation that is interested in purchasing Supercars (ARG). This well-financed new competitor has developed over the course of the past year, sponsoring the formation of TCR 2.0-liter touring auto racing, S-5000 V8 big-banger open-wheelers, as well as an end-of-season international tournament at Bathurst.
ARG is financed by the elusive real estate developer and racing fan Brian Boyd, who has been a patron of many classes for a significant amount of time with his PAYCE & Paynter Dixon sponsorships.
Boyd has a strong ambition to compete in racing for this country in addition to his large wealth. His motorsport lieutenants include ex Wilson Group CEO John McMellan, who was a major racing backer when he headed the Hong Kong-based security, parking, medical, and storage conglomerate Wilson, and former Volvo Australia boss as well as Supercars 2IC Matt Braid. Both men have extensive experience in the industry.
A group of wealthy team owners constitutes their competition for dominance in Supercars. Imagine people like Roland Dane, Roger Penske, and Walkinshaw, as well as the eccentric Betty Klimenko, who funded Erebus Motorsport. Their tender offer is now being organised by novice racer Tim Miles, an investor who arranged Archer's purchase, which ended in a windfall of several millions of dollars for team owners. Archer's buyout was arranged by Tim Miles.
There is a whole other debate going on about how dependent a series ought to be on its manufacturers and whether or not Gen3 should be constructed entirely around fast, noisy vehicles that seem to be dirt cheap to privateer organizations to run - even when there is no relation to the auto sector.
Supercars got time to think about all of these things, despite the fact that their competition between Holden and Ford was still going strong. The recent news regarding Holden has elevated the importance of determining the course that Gen3 will take to the level of an urgent problem.
The reality that Supercars is currently in the process of selling its television rights, with both the current agreement set to expire at the conclusion of this year, adds to the pressure that is already present. Future broadcast partners are going to want to know in detail how well the series will continue on after the year 2020.
A world without sedans has always been on the horizon, but it has never been on the horizon quite this quickly. Up until very recently, the release of Gen3 may have been pushed back as far as 2023 if necessary. That course of action is presently not feasible.
Even the year 2022 appears to be one year too late at this point.
The Falcon and Commodore will be retired when Holden is phased out at the end of 2020. Supercars Australia's chief executive officer, Sean Seamer, is now deep in planning for the year 2021. General Motors' Chevrolet Camaros are converted to right-hand drive by Holden Special-Vehicles. Where Do Supercars Go From Here Now That Holden Is Dead? Supercars have never been in more of a limbo than they are now.
In the near future, the company will be sold, and a new broadcast rights agreement will be put in place for the following several years. Due to Holden's demise, 2022 is now the worst year for Supercars. The sport's leadership must stabilise its financial future and determine its ownership in the midst of uncertainty. The Camaro, in contrast to the Mustang, has a promising future as a road car. Since Holden went out of business, Supercar enthusiasts have been understandably apprehensive about the future of the subgenre as a whole.
Putting more marketing effort into the SUV market, which is dominated by Japanese and South Korean brands, was a mistake. It's unusual, but it's not a deal breaker that Holden won't be a real person. What will happen for 2021 cars has not been decided upon by the teams. The establishment of a 'GM Special-Vehicles' branch in Australia is highly likely to be confirmed as soon as now by General Motors. Camaro drivers are banking on Gen3 bringing forth rule changes that will allow them to compete with Supercars.
Holden's replacement must come from a far smaller corporation, putting tremendous pressure on it. The Australian Racing Club is the first group to express interest in buying Supercars (ARG). The ARG ownership group includes Brian Boyd, former Volvo Australia head Matt Braid, and former Wilson Group CEO John McMellan. Tim Miles, an investor, facilitated the acquisition of Archer.
- With General Motors' announcement that the Holden brand will be discontinued at the end of 2020, the sport formerly called as Supercar Racing is immediately faced with the monumental issue of reimagining itself without either its two primary characters.
- The difficulty is that if Supercars switched to two-door sports cars, like the Camaro and Mustang did, one of the two would likely go out of business like Holden.
- The unexpected turn of events was the demise of Holden, which was announced right when two crucial accords for the future of Supercars were being negotiated.
- The announcement that Holden will end the year couldn't have come at a worse time, at least from the outside looking in.
- Due to the Mustang racer's ungainly appearance, Walkinshaw Andretti United (previously Holden's factory team) abandoned plans to create a Supercars Camaro.
- The next-generation Mustang, which will presumably continue to be produced in right-hand driving, is scheduled to debut in the latter half of 2021, giving Ford ample time to adjust the proportions of the car to conform more closely to the Gen3 regulations.
- Holden is a symbol of Australia because it was the country's first and only automaker.
- Due to the existing Holden contract and the 2022 release of Gen3, 2021 will be the Commodore's farewell song.
- Perhaps even a two-door project can be pushed through for 2021 if GM's plans for a 'GM Special-Vehicles' division in Australia are serious.
- Possible best candidate to achieve this goal is Ryan Walkinshaw.
- Holden's chairman Kristian Aquilina and GM Global chief Julian Blissett both mentioned plans for a GM Specialty-Vehicles business at the news of Holden's closure.
- This division would be responsible for producing and selling smaller quantities of speciality vehicles like the Camaro and the Corvette.
- The Corvette is extremely unlikely to appear in a Supercars race.
- Mr Seamer has ruled out bringing the new middle-engined sports vehicle into the sport, despite GM's ambitions to sell it within Australia (presumably through HSV dealers).
- A group of wealthy team owners constitutes their competition for dominance in Supercars.
- Archer's buyout was arranged by Tim Miles.
FAQs About Holden
The Holden Commodore ZB continues Holden's long and storied history as one of the most prominent brands in Supercars action.
From next year, General Motors — which owns the Holden brand — will enter its Chevrolet Camaro instead.
The sight of the lion badge pounding around Mount Panorama has been a comforting sign of continuity. After all, Holden's won 35 times at Bathurst, more than half of all Australian Touring Car Championship races ever held there, to go with its 590 race victories and 22 championships.
What engines do V8 Supercars use? The current V8 Supercars engine specifications have, like the engines themselves, been fine-tuned over the past 28 years. Both the Ford Mustang and Holden Commodore use a 5.0-litre V8 engine that has been specifically created for racing, with many bespoke parts.
JEREMY Martin's VB Commodore was purchased in 2005 as a $1000 253 banger. It has since undergone a number of transformations that have seen it progress into the world's fastest and quickest Holden Commodore.