Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

Early this Saturday afternoon, Australia's legendary V8 Supercars will make their American debut in the first of four races Austin's Circuit of the Americas. If you're a long time Jalopnik reader, you likely already know of the V8 Supercars, but if not, I'm here to provide a refresher on the series, as well as an in-depth look at the drivers, teams and cars that make the series what it is today. Now, to the important parts.

The Cars

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

V8 Supercars are the ultimate combination of a NASCAR stock car, a WTCC touring car and an FIA WEC Grand Touring car.

Like NASCAR, each chassis is built by a team, and then either run by that team or sold to another team. Also like NASCAR, the chassis is then fitted with a body designed by the manufacturer and then submitted to, aero matched and homologated by the sanctioning body. However, unlike NASCAR, these bodies are nearly identical to the road cars that they imitate, down to the four working doors.

Also unlike NASCAR, the car itself has a relatively low power output (around 600 vs around 850), relatively high downforce and relatively thin tires. Thus, despite the weight, they drive more like a sports car than they do a traditional touring car or a stock car. By extent, one of the most successful farm series for the class is Australia's spec Porsche class, which produces winning V8 Supercar drivers nearly as often as the series's official development class, the Dunlop Development Series.

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

Four manufacturers compete in the series: Holden, Ford, Mercedes (under the Erebus brand, as Mercedes itself doesn't bring any money to the program) and Nissan. Australian GM subsidiary Holden's VF Commondores make up most of the field, 15 of 28 entrants, while Ford's 6 FG Falcons, Nissan's 4 Altimas and Erebus's 3 Mercedes E63 AMGs make up the rest of the field.

The Events

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

Each V8 Supercar event is made up of at least one race. Sounds sensible, right? Sadly, it's not all that sensible any more. In fact, V8 Supercar events are no longer scheduled in a sensible way at all. Now, we've got five different types of race weekends:

  • 60/60 sprint: In the most common format of 2013, a weekend sees three races combining to the length of 320 Kilometers. On the Saturday of these race weekends, a single 120 Kilometer race is held, with a "half time" break half way through the event, much like a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race circa 1997. On the Sunday of these weekends, two 100 Kilometer races are held back-to-back, with qualifying for both held separately, but also back-to-back
  • super sprint: The second most common format is the super sprint, made up of four 100 Kilometer races. Under this format, each day is like the Sunday of a "60/60" weekend, made up of two back-to-back qualifying sessions followed by two back-to-back 100 Kilometer races. This is the format in use this weekend at COTA.
  • double header: The traditional V8 Supercar format is rare these days, but these events still exist, and when they do, they're run in the form of one normal length (200-300 Kilometers) event on both Saturday and Sunday. Qualifying for each event is run the day of the race, while one of the two races is further set by a "top 10 shootout" qualifying session. One of these such races, the Gold Coast 600, also involves endurance co-drivers.
  • Sandown 500: Used for one race and one race alone, the Sandown 500 weekend format involves just one official race on Sunday, but also involves two heat races, one for the standard driver and one for the endurance co-drivers.
  • Bathurst 1000: Used for the series's most legendary race alone, the Bathurst 1000 features by far the most traditional weekend used by the series. Qualifying is one standard session followed by one "top 10 shootout", followed by the legendary 1000 Kilometer race on the Sunday of the race weekend. This event also features endurance co-drivers.

The Teams

In Australian V8 Supercars, teams are only allowed to compete if they buy or lease control of a "Racing Entitlement Contract", limiting the grid to just 28 cars. It's a great way to give teams a value outside of their equipment, much in the same way that an NFL franchise will always have value, but it's also lead to some confusion about what constitutes a team. Teams often create or buy whole teams for the sole purpose of entering third or fourth cars in their existing teams, and often, these ultimately result in little more than confusion for fans and teams alike.

Ultimately, there are three types of teams: Factory programs, satellite programs and customer programs. Factory programs create their own cars, satellite programs enter cars for factory operations (often as little more than a name for an extra factory car, as mentioned earlier) and customer programs merely buy cars (and sometimes some support) from the factory programs for the purpose of entering their own cars.

Additionally, most teams has a second name, a "sponsored" team name. Teams with major sponsors use these names in marketing materials, though in reality they're little more than naming rights deals. For example, while Triple Eight Racing's cars may be referred to as Red Bull Racing Australia entries, unlike the Red Bull cars entered in Formula 1, these cars are not owned or built by the Red Bull company.

TRIPLE EIGHT RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Triple Eight Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Red Bull Racing Australia
DRIVERS: Craig Lowndes (888), Jamie Whincup (1)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 5

HOLDEN RACING TEAM

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Holden Racing Team
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Toll HRT
DRIVERS: Garth Tander (2), James Courtney (22)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

WALKINSHAW RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Satellite
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Holden Racing Team
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Supercheap Auto Racing
DRIVER: Russell Ingall (66)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

TEKNO AUTOSPORTS

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Customer
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Triple Eight Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAMES: N/A (19), VIP Pet Foods Racing (93)
DRIVERS: Jonathon Webb (19), Shane Van Gisbergen (93)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 1

BRAD JONES RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Holden Racing Team (cars are modified in-house by Brad Jones Racing)
SPONSORED TEAM NAMES: Team BOC (8), Lockwood Racing (14)
DRIVERS: Jason Bright (8), Fabian Coulthard (14)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 4

BRITEK MOTORSPORT

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Satellite
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Holden Racing Team (cars are modified in-house by Brad Jones Racing)
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Wilson Security Racing
DRIVER: David Wall (21)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

Garry Rogers Motorsport

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Garry Rogers Motorsport
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Fujitsu Team GRM
DRIVERS: Scott McLaughlin (33), Alex Premat (34)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 1

LUCAS DUMBRELL MOTORSPORT

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Customer
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Triple Eight Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: N/A
DRIVERS: Scott Pye (80), Dean Fiore (88)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

TONY D'ALBERTO RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Customer
MANUFACTURER: Holden
CONSTRUCTOR: Holden Racing Team
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Team Hiflex
DRIVER: Tony D'Alberto (3)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

FORD PERFORMANCE RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Ford
CONSTRUCTOR: Ford Performance Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Pepsi Max Crew
DRIVERS: Mark Winterbottom (5), Will Davison (6)
2013 OFFICIAL RACE WINS: 1

ROD NASH RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Satellite
MANUFACTURER: Ford
CONSTRUCTOR: Ford Performance Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: The Bottle-O Racing
DRIVER: David Reynolds (55)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

CHARLIE SCHWERKOLT RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Satellite
MANUFACTURER: Ford
CONSTRUCTOR: Ford Performance Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Team Jeld-Wen
DRIVER: Alex Davison (18)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

DICK JOHNSON RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Customer
MANUFACTURER: Ford
CONSTRUCTOR: Ford Performance Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: N/A
DRIVERS: Chaz Mostert (12), Tim Blanchard (17)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

NISSAN MOTORSPORT

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Nissan
CONSTRUCTOR: Kelly Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Jack Daniel's Racing
DRIVERS: Todd Kelly (7), Rick Kelly (15)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

KELLY RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Satellite
MANUFACTURER: Nissan
CONSTRUCTOR: Kelly Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: Norton 360 Racing
DRIVERS: Michael Caruso (36), James Moffat (360)
OFFICIAL 2013 TEAM WINS: 0

EREBUS RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Factory
MANUFACTURER: Mercedes-Benz
CONSTRUCTOR: Erebus Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: N/A
DRIVERS: Lee Holdsworth (4), Maro Engel (9)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

JAMES ROSENBERG RACING

Meet The Cast And Crew Of V8 Supercars

TEAM TYPE: Satellite
MANUFACTURER: Mercedes-Benz
CONSTRUCTOR: Erebus Racing
SPONSORED TEAM NAME: N/A
DRIVER: Tim Slade (47)
OFFICIAL 2013 RACE WINS: 0

The Drivers

Most of the drivers that run in V8 Supercars come from Australia's national feeder systems, but a few (such as HRT's James Courtney) go over to Europe or the Americas for a few years before returning to their home country (or their neighboring country if they are a New Zealander) and entering the V8 Supercars. There's also the very rare driver that grows up in and races in Europe before giving up on their careers there and moving to Australia, but at the moment there are only two such drivers.

I've included a quip about each driver, as well as their total career race wins and championships and, for a few drivers, a comparison to a driver from another series. Those that have nicknames (and there are many that have nicknames) have their nicknames written between their first and last names, as is traditional.

CRAIG "LOWNDSEY" LOWNDES - Leads the series all-time with 91 career race wins, along with 3 career championship. Mentored by the man often considered the greatest ever in Australian motor racing, Peter Brock. Of currently active racing drivers in other series, he is most comparable to Jeff Gordon.

JAMIE WHINCUP - Winner of four of the last five series championships, four Bathurst 1000s (including the most recent running of the event) and 62 races, Whincup is currently the dominant force in V8 Supercar racing. Of currently active racing drivers in other series, he is most comparable to Jimmie Johnson.

WILL DAVISON - Currently leading the championship, the 14 time race winner has spent the last few race weekends becoming Ford Performance Racing's lead driver, mostly thanks to continuous troubles for team mate Mark Winterbottom.

MARK "FROSTY" WINTERBOTTOM - Until his issues in 2012's endurance events, he seemed to be the only man that could challenge Jamie Whincup. Ultimately, he finished third in the standings behind Whincup and his Triple Eight Racing team mate Lowndes. Winterbottom is yet to win a race in 2013 and add to his 21 race win total, mostly thanks to circumstances out of his control biting him while he leads. Of currently active racing drivers in other series, he is most comparable to Tony Kanaan, but just Tony Kanaan at the Indianapolis 500. Tony Kanaan everywhere else is far too lucky for this comparison to work.

DAVID REYNOLDS - Still yet to get a win despite two impressive seasons with winning teams, Reynolds's career highlight is his intense battle for the Bathurst win with Jamie Whincup at last year's 1000 Kilometer event. He's also known for his twitter account, which is best described as "strange, but in a good way". Of currently active racing drivers in other series, he is most comparable to Brad Keselowski.

ALEX DAVISON - The brother of FPR team mate Will Davison, Alex has been in and out of the series a few times, but thanks to FPR's expansion finally has a safe seat for the near future. He's yet to show much of note in 2013, but with a mostly new team that's not a big surprise and by the end of the season, he may be a contender. He does not yet have a career win.

JAMES COURTNEY - The 2010 series champion for Dick Johnson Racing has struggled to live up to his past successes in his time with HRT, holding just one career win with the team. He spent the early 2000s trying to get a Formula 1 seat, but that ended abruptly when he was almost killed in a test for Jaguar's F1 program, where his life was saved by Michael Schumacher's impressive tri-lingual abilities, as he translated Courtney's English for the Italian speaking safety workers that got him out of the car safely. Along with his one career title, Courtney has nine career V8 Supercar wins.

GARTH TANDER - 51 times a race winner but only once a champion, Holden's lead driver has long struggled to turn his one race successes into year-in, year-out consistency, and the result is many a title ceded to long time rivals Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes. Tander has won two Bathurst 1000s in the last seven years, leading both of HRT's triumphs in the legendary race in that time. Incredibly, every other Bathurst winner in that time has come out of the Triple Eight Racing stable.

RUSSELL "THE ENFORCER" INGALL - The Mark Martin of V8 Supercars, the 49 year old driver and 27 time race winner is on his retirement tour with HRT's satellite operation. Incredibly, in 219 V8 Supercar races, he only has one pole, meaning he has as many series championships as he does starts from the top position on the grid!

SHANE "SVG" VAN GISBERGEN - The young Kiwi is, among other things, an accomplished sim racer, a successful drifter and the burnout king of V8 Supercars. he's also known for "retiring" at 23, only to return to the series just two months later with a new team. Van Gisbergen is a three time race winner in the real world, but has many, many more V8 Supercar wins on the iRacing simulation racing service.

JONATHON "JOHNNO" WEBB - One of just two owner-drivers in the series and currently the most successful, Webb has put in some incredible drives over the past few years, but ultimately has been more successful with his second car, now driven by Van Gisbergen. He has just one career win, but in 2012 he twice lead late in a car without any sponsorship to speak of.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN - Last year's Development Series champion, McLaughlin became the youngest ever V8 Supercars race winner just a few weeks ago with a win at the Pukekohe track in his home country of New Zealand. He also works as a fabricator on his own cars.

ALEXANDRE PREMAT - One of just two drivers not born in New Zealand or Australia in the series, Premat's has an interesting route into V8 Supercars. Once an Audi factory driver, Premat decided after a year out of the DTM that he wanted to return to "tin topped" racing cars, and made the switch to V8 Supercars. The result was a 2012 ride with Garry Rogers Motorsport, which he continues in to 2013. He was relatively unimpressive last year, even being parked for a single race weekend, but has improved significantly early in 2013.

DEAN FIORE - Now in his fifth year of V8 Supercar competition, Dean Fiore's never really impressed in his time in Australia's top touring car category. He spent his first four years driving for a family team, but has since made the switch to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsports, where he's spent the beginning of 2012 putting in competent, albeit unimpressive, finishes.

SCOTT PYE - Last year's Development Series runner up, Scott Pye is a former Triple Eight Racing development driver and a rookie to the V8 Supercar category. He's had an unlucky season so far, with both of his notable career moments being extremely large wrecks.

JASON BRIGHT - Bright is a veteran of the V8 Supercar category, putting in respectable and impressive seasons since he left Indy Lights and returned to Australia in 2001. In that time, he's had four top five championship finishes and an impressive 17 race wins. In his time racing in America, he grabbed one career Indy Lights win, at the Portland event in 2000. He is also the owner of the Britek "team", which ultimately is little more than a name given to the third entry for the Brad Johnson Racing, but was once it's own entity.

FABIAN "NO RELATION TO DAVID" COULTHARD - Fabian Coulthard is also a series veteran, having been in the class since 2006, but he didn't become a race winner until earlier this year, when he took Brad Jones Racing to it's first win of many in 2013. He now has two career wins, but he's still best known for his 2010 Bathurst 1000 rollover, pictured here.

DAVID WALL - A very successful GT racer, David Wall has struggled to convert his successes in sports cars to successes in the V8 Supercar category. He's now in his second year, and his career best finish is a relatively unimpressive 11th, made far less impressive by the fact that his two team mates are both multiple time race winners in 2013.

TONY D'ALBERTO - D'Alberto has been in the series since 2008, always as an owner-driver, but has never really done anything of note. This continues into 2013, where he sits 18th in the championship standings.

CHAZ MOSTERT - Essentially Ford Performance Racing's fifth driver, Mostert replaced Johnny Reid behind the wheel of Dick Johnson Racing's second entry just one round ago, and he's already proven impressive. In just his third start, he already has a top 10 in a car that only finished better than 20th once in nine starts earlier in 2013.

TIM BLANCHARD - Though he had some starts late in 2012, Blanchard is practically a rookie, and for most of the history of Australian touring car racing, Dick Johnson Racing would be a great place to be. However, with it's recent struggles, working at the cash strapped DJR, and alongside another rookie at that, is an understandable struggle for Blanchard. He currently sits 23rd in the championship standings.

TODD KELLY & RICK KELLY - Two Bathurst winners, two immensely talented drivers, two team owners and two brothers, the Kellys have become the faces of Nissan in Australia. They're yet to show anything all that impressive in their new equipment, but considering their early career successes (19 race wins for Todd and 12, as well as a championship, for Rick) and the rapid development of their Altima racing cars, it's not hard to imagine either driver becoming a race winner with their now factory Nissan program before the end of 2013.

MICHAEL CARUSO - The one time race winner is now in his sixth year of V8 Supercar competition, and despite being cast out of a seat with Garry Rogers Motorsport, he may very well be in the best position of his career. As 2013 is a development year for Kelly Racing's Nissan program, success may be unlikely for Caruso today, but by the end of the year, he could find himself in one of the best cars on the grid.

JAMES MOFFAT - Despite a turbulent season with Dick Johnson Racing that ended with him taking his sponsorship out the door, James Moffat has had an excellent start to 2013. He's proven himself to be the best of the Nissans through the first 12 races of the season, leaving the second generation racer looking well on his way to his first career win.

TIM SLADE & LEE HOLDSWORTH - After a moderately successful few years with the Stone Brothers Racing organization for both, the switch to Erebus built Mercedes entries has been a struggle. It'll be hard to judge them as V8 Supercar drivers in the 2013 season, but if Erebus can get a handle on their new cars by the end of the season as they hope, these two drivers could be competitive once more.

MARO ENGEL - After seeing Premat use his DTM experience to get a V8 Supercar ride, former Mercedes DTM driver Maro Engel has also made the transition to Australian racing. Though he can't yet truly be judged thanks to spending all of his time in the series with the thoroughly unimpressive early day Erebus entries, Engel has been consistently slower than his team mates Slade and Holdsworth. The German wasn't all that successful in the DTM, either, but may yet succeed in V8 Supercars.

How To Watch

By now, you know who's driving what and where they're racing it, and you may be thinking "how can I watch this?". Sadly, you cannot watch all four races from COTA live on American television. However, you can watch both of Sunday's races live on SPEED, and you can catch both of Saturday's races live if you subscribe to the V8 Superview service, a subscription based live stream that provides coverage for every single V8 Supercar race and qualifying session live and commercial free. If you're interested in this program, you can join here.

Furthermore, if you are in the Austin area, there are still plenty of tickets for sale for the race itself. Anyone who wants to go to the Circuit of the Americas to catch the race, and by extent become part of the first ever group to see V8 Supercars race on the western hemisphere, still has that ability if they so choose.