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Department of Premier and Cabinet

John McCormack



John McCormack

Inducted 2009

b. 9 July 1938

John established an international reputation as an outstanding motor racing driver in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. He was well known for his driving skills and expertise but, above all, his determination and will to win.

John hails originally from Burnie in Tasmania's north-west. It was in Burnie that John had his first big success on wheels, at the age of 12 in a Soap Box Derby promoted by the local Apex Club.

But it was many years later that John first raced a motorised vehicle in his mid-twenties. As the owner of the only rear-engined Nota Formula Junior ever built, and fitted with a supercharger, he plunged into Tasmanian Formula Libre racing.

Racing the Nota, and its successor, a Brabham Climax, John won the Tasmanian Championship in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

At the age of 31, John packed up his home and his family and moved to Adelaide to become a full-time professional racing driver.

During his illustrious career he won Australia's premier circuit racing title, the Gold Star Driver's Championship, three times (in 1973, 1975 and 1977), and was twice runner-up.

In the 1973 Australian Grand Prix he finished second, only 1.7 seconds behind first, and was to place second again in the same race the following year. He also won a number of rounds of the Tasman Series, including a sensational victory against top international competition at the 1973 and 1974 New Zealand Grand Prix. These wins, in his Elfin MRS Repco Formula 500, were against wonderful drivers such as Frank Matich and Larry Perkins.

John campaigned in open wheeled racing cars for a number of years before switching to sports sedans in 1973.

His enormous knowledge of racing cars and exceptional construction abilities saw him pioneer the midmounted engine and trans axle rear end configuration that is still used by many sports sedan drivers today.

His Chrysler Charger built with a Repco Holden engine helped him dominate the sports sedan category - particularly in the Toby Lee Series at Oran Park where he won five out of five finals in 1974. In that year, that particular vehicle, driven by John, had 42 starts, 27 wins, 10 second or third places and failed to finish just once.

John's great career was cut short in 1981 when he suffered extensive injuries in a car accident while travelling to Melbourne to qualify for the 1981 Australian Grand Prix.

He was made a member of the Tasmanian Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 1992 due to his contribution as both an outstanding competitor and brilliant car constructer.