Ford EB Falcon – 1993 Australian Touring Car Championship – Driver: Dick Johnson
Ford EB Falcon driven by Dick Johnson in the 1993 Australian Touring Car Championship. The introduction of five-litre regulations for the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship in 1993 saw the return of a V8-powered Falcon to the series for the first time since 1984. The man that won the ’84 crown, Dick Johnson, would be right at the forefront of the new category that would eventually morph into what is known today as V8 Supercars.
His Shell-sponsored team had already built a car in 1992 for the new regulations, though it never ended up racing. A second car was constructed and used later that season, becoming John Bowe’s car for the ’93 title chase. Team boss Johnson had a new car, EB3, built for him for the new season and he made a successful debut aboard it in the opening round at Amaroo Park in Sydney. He claimed victory in the opening heat from the front row of the grid, which was held exclusively for the V8 cars (and the 2.5-litre BMW M3s that had been permitted to stay racing). But things went sour in the combined final when a tyre rubbing on bodywork eventually let go, pitching Johnson off the road on the run up Bitupave Hill while out in front.
Round two took the teams to Symmons Plains in Tasmania and Johnson took the #17 Falcon to third overall before claiming pole position at Phillip Island by virtue of winning the three-lap Dash for Cash. But the local Victorian-based Peter Jackson Falcons of Glenn Seton and Alan Jones would prove to be too strong on their home circuit and Johnson was left to settle for fourth overall for the weekend. Johnson’s local circuit at Lakeside in Queensland hosted round four and again the Ford icon was in good form. He won Race 1 and ended up finishing the round second behind Jones, though the form wouldn’t continue at Winton. Another pole position in the Dash for Cash was the only real positive for the weekend with seventh and sixth in the two races enough for fifth overall.
Round six at Eastern Creek started disastrously as Johnson hit a slow-moving Larry Perkins in practice, prompting the Shell team to give the #17 Falcon a major rebuild to get it ready to race. Johnson qualified ninth but luck wasn’t on his side as the car broke its diff on the warm-up lap and he didn’t even start. A rear of grid start in Race 2 saw Johnson charge from 33rd to 12th but no championship points for the weekend left him a ranked a distant 19th for the weekend. Things were again tough in round seven at Mallala in South Australia. After finishing fourth in Race 1, a spin and pit stop to check on a suspected flat tyre in Race 2 dropped him to finish 14th in the race and 12th for the round.
Miserable wet weather greeted teams in the penultimate round at Barbagallo in Perth and it wasn’t just the weather that was miserable for Johnson, the result sheet was too. After qualifying on the front row of the grid via finishing second in the Dash for Cash, Johnson ended up 10th in Race 1 after a spin and eighth in Race 2 to be 10th for the round. A tough second half of the season came to an end in the championship finale at Oran Park and it was another tough one for Johnson. He qualified seventh but bogged down and stalled on the grid, eventually racing back through to 12th spot. The final race of the season saw Johnson come home 9th and 13th for the round, rounding out a sprint series that had started well but ended under difficult circumstances.
With Seton and Jones finishing 1-2 in the championship, Bowe was third clear of Jim Richards’ Winfield Holden. Richards’ strong late season form leap-frogged him past Johnson by six points to bump the Queenslander back to fifth. But while Johnson had a tough second half of the season, it was nothing compared to the fate that would befall his Falcon at Bathurst. A collision with privateer Bill O’Brien destroyed the EB Falcon in a heavy accident, leaving Johnson bruised and sore after smashing into the concrete wall at the top of the Mountain. A TAFE team repaired the remnants of the wreck some years later and Johnson’s 1993 ATCC car, EB3, remains in the DJR museum on the Gold Coast built up as a replica of the 1994 Bathurst-winning car, which itself was destroyed in an accident at Phillip Island in 1996.