Phil Ward

Phil Ward

14/4/1950

After terrorising the locals on the streets of the Dundas area in outer Sydney where he grew up Phil Ward turned to the track entering his first race in a modified 105E Ford Anglia at the Warwick Farm short circuit in an AARC club race meeting in 1969. He diced with a Simca and a Zephyr to narrowly take the win.

The Anglia sported a range of power plants from a 113E 1340cc to116E 1500cc later supercharged then taken out to 1760cc and later replaced with a BRM tuned Lotus Twin Cam. The car was raced continually at almost every eastern state circuit including Hume Weir, Catalina Park and Bathurst and many times at the famous Warwick Farm Grand Prix Circuit. The Lotus Anglia was written off in a crash at Surfers Paradise during the 1972 new years meeting.

Over the next couple of years the Giant Killer Ford Escort sports sedan was built by Ward in his performance tuning workshop in outer suburban Sydney known then as Wardspeed Automotive The ex Piers Courage Cosworth FVA engine was purchased and installed into the Escort. The 5 speed dog engagement gearbox coupled to it was one of the first production units built by Peter Holinger, it was such an early unit the shift pattern was even mirror reversed to the norm to enable fitting all the gears in. The chassis engineering was very advanced for its time being fitted with wishbone front suspension and parallel trailing arms and watts linkage rear all of Wards design and manufacture.

During the long build of the Escort Wardie had guest drives in various cars including a Nota Clubman and Cooper S at places like Catalina Park Katoomba.

From 1976 the Escort was campaigned in hard charging style by Ward predominately at Sydney’s Amaroo Park and Oran Park circuits. The Escort was later updated with an early model Cosworth BDG engine. Ward and Rogers had many memorable duals and throughout the era Ward claimed numerous class and outright wins and lap records on virtually every circuit where the car appeared in the National Championship.

In 1979 Ward was looking to compete at a higher national level and he purchased the fearsome 650BHP Bob Jane Monaro sports sedan and over the next couple of seasons raced under the banner of NSW Building Society/Channel Ten Racing Team. Wardie claimed no less than 30 victories in the mighty machine regularly eclipsing the likes of Tony Edmondson, Allan Moffat, Jim Richards, Allan Grice and John Briggs.

At his home track Oran Park, Wardie smashed the sports sedan lap record down to a remarkable level for the era of 40.9 which stood for over 10 years.

Over the next few seasons Ward drove various touring cars to mixed successes including the Masterton Homes Group C Falcon, the George Shepherd Suttons Motors Gemini and the Ted Homeyer Chevelle Motors BMW.

In the years to 1986 Ward developed the most successful Phil Ward Turbo business to become the industry leader from the Haberfield premises with the major business focus being fitting Turbo kits into the new car trade.

In 1987 Ward formed a friendship with business man Lynden Riethmuller and Reithmuller Ward International Motorsport was formed. Again with the help of Bob Jane they secured the 2 Helmet Marko AMG Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 16 Group A cars Jane had brought out for Bathurst.

The cars were found to be uncompetitive in Australian racing so Ward and his small team set about a full redevelopment programme enabling them to compete competitively in the ATCC.

Under Ward’s engineering and driving prowess the next couple of seasons saw the Mercedes Team’s speed constantly improve as the cars were campaigned at selected events. The Mercedes were technically difficult cars to race and the team’s development was a tribute in itself to Ward as he not only assembled and developed his own engines but passed on some of the technical advances he had made with the German factory.

In 1990 Ward secured backing from Monroe Australia for his Mercedes-Benz team. He engineered the car and drove it to victory in that years Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst (class B) Ward won class B in the Monroe Mercedes at every round contested in the 1990 ATCC including the inaugural Eastern Creek meeting which hosted the manufacturers championship round the Nissan 500.

When the ATCC went all V8 and Group A was dropped the Mercs were put into mothballs for a couple of seasons still in their European Group A configuration.

In 1993 the 2.0 Litre Championship was taking the world by storm and when announced it would be extended to Australia the 2 Mercedes-Benz Group A spec cars were brought out of mothballs and re engineered to the British regs. With major sponsorship support from Nokia, Ward campaigned them in the inaugural Australian 2.0 Litre Super Touring Championship.

In 1994 Mercedes-Benz AMG offered Ward an ex DTM Evolution II 190 2.5 16 factory built race car formerly run by the Zakspeed Team in the German Touring Car Championship for him to convert and run in the Australian series. After the DTM car was modified by Ward to 2.0 Litre specs the original 2 Marko Mercedes were retired.

Ward’s performances as a Privateer in the Super Touring Championship were outstanding considering the tough competition he faced in the factory backed Brad Jones Audi and Paul Morris BMW teams.

In 94 the team purchased a VP Commodore from Larry Perkins which Ward drove for the first time at Bathurst where he amazed the regular competition by qualifying the car just out of the top ten and easily being fastest Privateer. Steven Ellery had his first outing in a V8 as Ward’s co driver at the event. The Mercedes was driven by Jamie Miller and journo Peter Mckay with Wardie again showing his versatility both driving the V8 and managing the 2 car Bathurst assault.

In the following couple of seasons after the V8 was sold and Ward turned his attention to expanding Kart Blanche and organising track days.

In 1996 Aussie Racing Cars was born. Over a 2 year period the prototype car was painstakingly built by Ward undergoing extensive track testing without the body fitted.

The growth of the category took a huge leap forward when Aussie Racing Cars became an official support category to the V8 Supercars in 2003 with the 7 round series to be extended to at least 8 rounds in 2004.

Ward has struck a landmark deal with CAMS in an exclusive management agreement that will guarantee the category has stability till 2010 and beyond.

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