Jim Richards – A Race History 1964-2015
Jim Richards was born on 2nd September 1947 in New Zealand. He began racing Go Karts in New Zealand when aged 12 in a Kart built for him by his Dad. He won a Junior Championship at the Nationals held at New Plymouth and by the time he moved on from Karts, he had learned a great deal about ‘car’ control on dirt tracks. As a 16 year old apprentice motor mechanic Jim purchased a Ford Anglia 105E saloon car to use for ‘going to work’ – and he soon began to race in this car. In 1968, after two seasons racing a second and more modified Anglia 105E, he purchased in a new Ford Escort Mk1 pushrod 1297cc. In 1969 he was asked to drive the Jim Carney Racing owned 140bhp Escort 1600 Twin Cam. From 1970 for the next two seasons, he drove the Carney owned ex-Williment Escort Twin-Cam 165bhp and won the 1970/71 and 1971/72 NZ Saloon Car Championship in this car.
Jim also raced a Holden Monaro 350 in Production Saloon Car races late 1970/early ’71. He raced a Hillman Imp in the smaller under 1000cc saloon car class for several seasons. In a Ford Falcon GTHO, and then a Falcon GT, he took ‘NZ Unlimited Saloon Championship’ with wins in 1972, ‘74 and ‘75. He also enjoyed success in endurance races in New Zealand and Australia. Jim drove in early NZ ‘Heatway’ rallies and found time as well to compete in speedway events. He is perhaps revered most in New Zealand with his legendary ‘Sidchrome’ Mustang, a car he debuted at Baypark in Easter 1973 and in which he went on to win the 1974 NZ Saloon Championship.
Jim took the Sidchrome Mustang and his family to Australia in mid-1975 and has remained as a Kiwi living in Melbourne and racing in Australia ever since. His many successes in Australia over the next 40 years included becoming a seven-time winner of the Bathurst 1000 and a four-time winner of the Australian Touring Car Championship. Since 1993, he also raced and rallied Porsche cars in Australia and New Zealand with considerable success.
Back to 1975 where Jim raced the Mustang, and later a Ford Falcon XC, in the Australian Sports Sedan Championship taking 4th place in ‘76 and ‘77, 2nd in ‘78 and ‘79 and 3rd in 1980. In 1978 he was invited to join the Holden Dealer Team as co-driver to Peter Brock in the Bathurst 1000km Touring car race; the duo scored three consecutive wins at Bathurst – two in Holden Torana A9X cars in 1978 and ‘79 and one in 1980 in a Holden Commodore VC.
Jim joined Frank Gardner’s JPS-backed BMW team in 1982 and while driving the JPS BMW 635 CSi, and then BMW M3 cars, Jim won the Australian Touring Car Championship titles in 1985 and 1987. Frank Gardner sold the team at the end of the 1987 season so Jim joined with Peter Brock again, this time to drive the Mobil liveried BMW M3s in 1988.
In 1989 Jim drove Fred Gibson’s ‘factory’ Nissan Skyline GTS-R, the forerunner to the legendary Skyline GT-R 4WD Twin Turbo ‘Godzilla’ cars that Jim drove to win the Australian Touring Car Championship again in 1990 and 1991. He also drove Volvos in the 2 litre Super Touring Championship in 1997 and 1998 and V8 Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons in the Australian Touring Car championship. In 2002 while driving a V8 Commodore, Jim won the Bathurst 1000km for the 7th time and with this win at age 55, he became the oldest winner of the Bathurst 1000km. Jim was inducted into the ‘V8 Supercar Hall of Fame’ in 2006. In 2010, Jim was voted as the ‘Best Ever’ Touring car driver in Australia – ahead of the late Peter Brock! Since he first raced in the legendary Australian endurance race at Bathurst in 1974, Jim drove in the ‘big race’ at Bathurst every year for the next 35 consecutive years – a record he is proud to have set; Jim has not missed racing at Bathurst for the last 42 years and counting!
Although he has retired as a full-time ‘main race’ V8 Touring car driver, Jim continues to race in the Australian Touring Car Masters series taking his 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint, or his 1972 AMC Javelin AMX, to 4th place in the Championship in 2009, 1st in 2010, 2nd in 2011, 2nd in 2012, 1st in 2013, and 4th in 2014.
Porsche Rallying – Jim’s Porsche rallying began in 1993 when he raced a Porsche 968 Clubsport (CS) in the Targa Tasmania. Together with his co-driver, Barry Oliver, Jim has won the Targa Tasmania a record eight times – 1996-98 in a 993 Turbo, 2000-03 in a 996 Turbo, and 2006 in a 997 GT2. Jim also raced Porsches in many other rallies in Australia and New Zealand where major successes have included being a five-time winner of the Australian Grand Prix Rally and a multiple winner of Targa West based in Perth.
Porsche Racing – Jim drove a Porsche 968 CS to third place in the 1994 Australian Super Production series. He took first place in the 1995 Australian GT Production Car Championship using both a 968 CS and a 993 RSCS. He was second in the same Championship in 1996 in a 993 RSCS and first in 1999 in a 996 GT3. He took first place in three consecutive years from 2000-2002 in the Australian Nations Cup Championship while driving a 996 GT3. He was first in the inaugural Australian Carrera Cup in 2003, 2nd in 2004, 2nd in 2005, all in 996 GT3 Cup cars, and then 4th in 2006 in a 997 GT3 Cup car. He also took 3rd place in the 2009 Australian GT Championship in a 997 GT3 Cup car. Jim also won the Inaugural ‘Porsche Trans-Tasman GT3 Cup’, a six-round series held in New Zealand in 2003/04.
Following a longstanding involvement with Porsche Cars Australia that began with an invitation to drive a ‘factory’ Porsche 968 CS in the 1993 Bathurst 12 Hour race, Jim has been appointed as an Official Ambassador for Porsche Australia.
The Directors of the Porsche Festival 2016, together with European Motors Ltd-Porsche, salute ‘Gentleman’ Jim Richards for his highly significant achievements in Porsche cars.