Venue Sandown Raceway
Number of times held 46
|Distance 500,000 m|
First held 1964
|Similar Sandown Raceway, Bathurst 1000, Winton Motor Raceway, Queensland Raceway, Mount Panorama Circuit|
The Sandown 500 is an annual endurance motor race which has been staged at the Sandown Raceway, near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia since 1964. It has usually been held in September, the month before Australia’s premier endurance race, the Bathurst 1000.
- 1998 sandown 500 full race
- Production car era
- Group C Touring Car era
- Group A Touring Car era
- Group 3A Touring Car era
- Nations Cup era
- V8 Supercars era
- Australian Manufacturers Championship
- Return of V8 Supercars
The event's name, distance - and the category of cars competing in it - has varied widely throughout its history. Currently, the event is held as a championship event for Supercars, and is formally known as the Wilson Security Sandown 500 for sponsorship reasons.
1998 sandown 500 full race
Production car era
The first two races were open to production based sedans and, at six hours duration, were substantially longer than later iterations of the race. Both races were won by an Alfa Romeo Giulia entered by Alec Mildren Racing. In 1968, after a two-year hiatus, the event was revived as a three-hour race and took on a long time role as an unofficial “warm-up” event for the Bathurst 1000. In common with the Bathurst race, it utilized technical regulations which limited cars to near production specifications, unlike the Australian Touring Car Championship which was for more highly modified Group C Improved Production Touring Cars. Manufacturers took a stronger interest in the race in this period and the Ford works team led by Canadian driver Allan Moffat won the 1969 race in a Ford XW Falcon GTHO Phase I, the first of six wins for Moffat. Colin Bond drove a Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1 to victory in 1971 and John Goss won the last Series Production 500 in 1972 in a Ford XY Falcon GTHO Phase III.
Group C Touring Car era
The race was contested by the newly introduced Group C Touring Car category from 1973. During the Group C era, it was dominated by Peter Brock who won nine of the twelve races, six with the Holden Dealer Team. The other three races were won by Allan Moffat. The 1982 race was the first Sandown endurance race since 1965 to be won by a make other than a Ford or Holden, Moffat scoring the first of two consecutive wins in a Mazda RX-7. His 1982 victory came after he was disqualified, then re-instated after a pit lane infringement penalty was removed post-race. With the Sandown circuit being upgraded and lengthened from 3.1 km to 3.9 km in mid-1984, the race was increased from 400 km to 500 km. Peter Brock and Larry Perkins won the 1984 race in a Holden VK Commodore. It was Brock's record 9th and last win in the Sandown Enduro.
Group A Touring Car era
Group C was replaced by Australian regulations based on International Group A Touring Car rules in 1985. Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst won the first Group A race for driving a BMW 635 CSi, before George Fury scored a pair of victories in turbocharged Nissan Skylines with Glenn Seton in 1986 and Terry Shiel in 1987. The 1986 race was the first time a turbo powered car had won the Sandown enduro. Moffat claimed his sixth and final victory in 1988 in a Ford Sierra RS500 with former Grand Prix motorcyclist Gregg Hansford (the race would also prove to be Moffat's final race win in Australia). Nissan won again in 1989 with Jim Richards and Mark Skaife, before Seton and Fury took repeated their 1986 success with a win in Seton's Ford Sierra in 1990. The team of Mark Gibbs and Rohan Onslow driving a privateer Nissan GT-R had the biggest win of their careers in 1991. A slim entry of Group A cars in 1991 saw race organizers bring production cars back to the race as additional entries running in their own class, as they would in 1992, 1993 and 1994. A class for cars complying with the 1993 Group 3A 5.0 Litre Touring Car regulations, later to become known as V8 Supercars, was also included in the 1992 race. The 1992 Sandown 500 featured a memorable late race duel between Larry Perkins in his Group A Holden VL Commodore and Tony Longhurst in his BMW M3 in changeable weather, with Perkins holding on for his second Sandown win and the only win for his co-driver Steve Harrington.
Group 3A Touring Car era
The Group 3A 5.0 Litre Touring Cars regulations were adopted for the 500 in 1993 and Glenn Seton Racing's second entry, driven by David Parsons and Geoff Brabham won a race of high attrition. 1994 saw Dick Johnson's breakthrough win in the one race he had not been able to win in almost 20 years. He and John Bowe backed it up with a second win in 1995. The Holden Racing Team then scored consecutive wins with Craig Lowndes and Greg Murphy, including a memorable duel with Glenn Seton in 1997. Larry Perkins claimed his third win in 1998 with Russell Ingall before V8 Supercars, as it was then known, decided to look for other opportunities for their 500 km race.
Nations Cup era
The second hiatus in the history of the race commenced in 1999 when a Queensland government-supported bid saw the Sandown 500 replaced on the Supercars calendar by the Queensland 500, held at Queensland Raceway. The Sandown 500 was revived in 2001, returning to its roots as a race for production cars. With regulations linked to those of the Australian Nations Cup Championship, (a championship for GT style cars), and the Australian GT Production Car Championship, the race featured a more exotic variety of cars than it had traditionally attracted. John Bowe took his third Sandown win in 2001 in a Ferrari, and a Lamborghini driven by multiple Australian Drivers' Champion Paul Stokell won in 2002.
V8 Supercars era
By 2003, new owners of Queensland Raceway had tired of the relative expense of the 500 kilometre endurance race format, resulting in the Sandown 500 again being contested by V8 Supercars. By 2003, the 500 kilometre event was also now included as a points-paying event within each V8 Supercars season.
The 2003 race, which featured a mid-race hail storm, was also notable for a late race battle between Mark Skaife and Jason Richards in wet conditions. On the penultimate lap, Richards attempted to pass Skaife for the lead at Turn 9, but ended up bogged in the gravel trap and out of the race. Skaife also toured the gravel trap but was able to rejoin the track and went on to win. The 2004, 2005 and 2006 races saw the debut championship event wins in the category for Greg Ritter, Yvan Muller and Mark Winterbottom respectively. In 2007, Lowndes won the event for the fourth time, with Jamie Whincup. Lowndes and Whincup would go on to become the first pairing to win the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 in the same year since Lowndes and Murphy in 1996.
After a change of promoter of Sandown Raceway’s motorsport activities, a changed V8 Supercars calendar resulted in the 500 kilometre event moving to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the 2008 season, while Sandown reverted to hosting a sprint round, an event which became known as the Sandown Challenge.
Australian Manufacturers' Championship
The Sandown 500 was revived in 2011 as a round of the Australian Manufacturers' Championship. It was split into two legs, run on Saturday and Sunday, with the overall placings based on the combined results of the two legs. The semi-factory supported Mitsubishi entry of Stuart Kostera and Ian Tulloch claimed the win in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
Return of V8 Supercars
The Sandown 500 returned to the V8 Supercars calendar in 2012, replacing the Phillip Island 500K to again become the traditional lead-in race to the Bathurst 1000. The format used at the Phillip Island 500 from 2008 to 2012 was brought to Sandown, with two short races on Saturday used to set the grid. Each co-driver has to drive one of the two races. From 2013, the event became part of the newly formed Pirtek Enduro Cup within the Supercars season, along with the series' other two-driver races, the Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600.
Triple Eight Race Engineering dominated on the return to the track, with wins from 2012 to 2014. 2015 saw Winterbottom win the Sandown 500 for a second time, having first tasted success in 2006, leading home a Prodrive Racing Australia one-two finish.
From 2016, the newly-renamed Supercars Championship promoted the event as a "retro round", with several teams adopting one-off liveries for the event. The idea was loosely inspired by NASCAR's Southern 500, that since 2015 has become a "retro round". The race itself saw Garth Tander, driving with 2012 winner Warren Luff, win his first Sandown 500 in mixed conditions, holding off Shane van Gisbergen by under half a second. The race was shortened by 18 laps following a first lap crash involving James Golding that damaged the turn 6 tyre barrier which needed to be repaired.