The gentleman who paved the best way for a era of Kiwis
September 2, 2021 marks the 74th birthday of Jim Richards, the unique pioneer of New Zealanders in Australian motorsport.
Few drivers within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties loved as a lot success as ‘Gentleman Jim’ Richards, who gained championships with two completely different producers.
- What number of completely different nationalities have gained Supercars races?
To label Richards as a pioneer is an understatement; the Otahuhu-born driver gained two titles for BMW, two for Nissan, 4 Bathursts in Holdens, two in Nissans and one in a Volvo.
He additionally gained Bathurst seven instances; solely Peter Brock has extra, with Craig Lowndes becoming a member of him on seven in 2018.
Richards in 1985 Pic: AN1 Photographs
Critically, Richards paved the best way for a era of racers to make it large in Australia.
Lately, we’ve turn into accustomed with the likes of Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen successful all earlier than them.
Earlier than them, was Greg Murphy. Earlier than Murphy was Paul Radisich.
Kiwis can’t fly, however Richards proved he may from an early age.
ATCC champion with Nissan in 1990 Pic: AN1 Photographs
A profitable junior karter, Richards made the transfer to Australia in 1975; a yr earlier, he impressed to 3rd within the 1974 Hardie-Ferodo 1000.
He additionally gained two Australian Endurance Championships (1985, 1986), two Australian GT Manufacturing Championships (1995 and 1999), the 1996 NASCAR Australian Championship, three Australia Nations Cups (2000, 2001, 2002), the 2003 Porsche Carrera Cup title and two Touring Automobile Masters championships (2010 and 2013).
It was within the ATCC, nevertheless, the place Richards created the successful template for future New Zealanders.
Richards famously mixed with Brock to say three straight Bathurst wins between 1978 and 1980.
Skaife crosses the road to assist Richards win for a seventh time Pic: AN1 Photographs
The change to worldwide Group A laws in 1985 noticed Richards and BMW turn into an indomitable drive.
In 1985, Richards completed on the rostrum in 9 of 10 occasions, successful seven of them. He additionally gained the 1985 Australian Endurance Championship with 4 wins out of 5.
Robbie Francevic turned the second Kiwi to win the ATCC in 1986, with Richards third within the championship with only a single victory.
Come 1986, and Richards carried the smaller capability BMW M3 to the 1987 title.
A seventh Bathurst win 2002 Pic: AN1 Photographs
He rejoined Brock in 1988 earlier than Fred Gibson got here calling in 1989, with Richards serving to Nissan scale the best heights of Australian motorsport.
Between 1990 and 1992, Richards gained two titles and two Bathursts, and helped Mark Skaife evolve from an understudy to a drive in a matter of years.
The 1992 Bathurst win stays essentially the most notorious of Richards’ seven; Richards crashed the GT-R in a downpour on lap 145.
An earlier crash triggered a purple flag, and with the outcomes backdated, Richards and Skaife have been declared winners, a lot to the chagrin of the soaked crowd.
In 2002, he partnered with Skaife to win Bathurst on the ripe age of 55; so far, he stays the oldest driver to win a championship race.
He additionally claimed eight Targa Tasmania wins with motor racing journalist and commentator Barry Oliver as his navigator.
Richards is the daddy of racer Steven, who gained 5 Bathursts of his personal between 1998 and 2018.
He was inducted into the Supercars Corridor of Fame in 2006 and the Australian Motorsports Corridor of Fame in 2015.