The title of Mr Holden
If there has been one constant in Australian motorsport over the past 50 years it is the deadly serious rivalry between arch rivals Holden and Ford. It isn’t just played out at corporate level, but permeates to the farthest margins of the Australian persona, seeping into the very bones of our cultural soul. Yet, surprisingly, as a marketable proposition to be packaged and served up to Joe Public, it has a relatively short history, and can be traced back to only the late 1960s and early 1970s and to a series of drag racing events designed to determine exactly who owned the quickest Holdens and Fords.
At Bathurst, Ford began the war with a win from their new XR Falcon GT in 1967, prompting Holden into retaliating with its new Monaro, indirectly creating the head-to-head factory clash (with a mix of less successful Chryslers); whereas the drag racing version was a direct appeal to supporters of the respective brands, starting with Holden in 1967, and Ford in 1970, then pitching them against each other each year from 1971. Over the next three issues of AMC we’ll outline this escalation of hostilities.
There was no Chrysler, no Minis or Japanese or European brands, this was pure Australian automotive angst, and until 1993, when CAMS created its Group 3A Class A Touring Car category for Australian-produced 5.0-litre V8engined Fords and Holdens, the circuit clashes were an evolutionary rather than a deliberately tailored process.
When first created, these drag racing events were probably the peak of the still relatively new quarter-mile motorsport. Sedans capable of
Ford versus Holden is as Australian as a fly-blown sheep jumping Uluru in a Driza-Bone, and in motorsport it started on the quarter mile. The seeds were sown 50 years ago this year with the Mr Holden contest that soon escalated.