- December 18, 1929
- September 28, 2018
- Not Active
Bob Jane (1929-2018) is one of the greatest legends of the Australian motorsport. He was the Australian touring car champion four times, in 1962, 1963, 1971 and 1972. He was also Australian GT champion in 1963. He won four times in a row, from 1961 to 1964, at Armstrong 500 race, which later became the Bathurst 1000.
Bob Jane was an owner of tyre retail company Bob Jane T-Marts. The company was the main sponsor if his racing team but also it held the naming rights sponsorship for Bathurst 1000 race from 2002 to 2004.
Early career in motorcycle racing
Robert Frederick Jane was born in December 1929 and he started his racing career in early 1950, first in motorcycle races and then switching to cars in the late 1950s. He raced in a Maserati 300S from 1958 to 1962, recording some notable results such as the third place in the Australian Tourist Trophy in 1959 and 1961.
In November 1960, Jane participated in the inaugural Armstrong 500 race at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, sharing a Ford XK Falcon with Lou Molina and finishing third in Class D.
Four consecutive victories at Armstrong 500
In November 1961, the Armstrong 500 took place at Phillip Island again and Bon Jane clinched his first victory, sharing the #32 Mercedes-Benz 220SE with Harry Firth. In that time, there was no outright winner of the race, with only the winners of four classes being given official recognition and prize money. However, Jane and Firth was the only crew to complete the full 500-mile distance and it is generally considered to be the winners of the race.
In 1962, Jane and Firth repeated the success at Armstrong 500. This time, they were sharing the #21 Ford XL Falcon. In 1963, the last Armstrong race at Phillip Island, Bob Jane and Harry Firth won the race in a Ford Cortina GT.
In 1964, the race took place for the first time at Mount Panorama Circuit. Bob Jane took his fourth consecutive victory. His victorious car was Ford Cortina GT again and his co-driver was George Reynolds.
Bob Jane won two ATCC titles in a Jaguar
In a period of his reign at Armstrong 500 race, Bob Jane was also a regular competitor in the Australian Touring Car Championship. In that time, the championship was contested in a single race.
In 1961, Jane retired in the ATCC race at Loowood Airfield in a Jaguar Mk2 3.8. Next year, in March 1962, the ATCC race took place at Longford Circuit and Bob Jane won a race in a Jaguar. In 1963, he defended the championship title in a Jaguar by winning the championship race at Mallala Circuit in South Australia. His last ATCC start in a Jaguar was in 1964 at the Lakeside International Raceway when he finished in the third place.
Australian GT champion in 1963
Parallel to his Armstrong 500 and ATCC success, Bob Jane also won the Australian GT Championship in 1963. Similar to ATCC, the championship was contested in a single race that took place at Calder Motor Raceway. Bob Jane won the race in a Jaguar E Type.
With the same car, he finished third in the Australian Tourist Trophy in 1964 and fourth place in the Australian Tourist Trophy in 1965.
In the mid-1960s, Jane also raced in open-wheel competitions such were the Australian Drivers' Championship, Australian One and Half Litre Championship or Tasman Series.
Racing in a Ford Mustang from 1965 to 1970
In 1965, Bob Jane was driving a Ford Mustang in the Australian Touring Car Championship that took place at Sandown Raceway, didn't finishing the race. He recorded two more DNFs in ATCC races in 1967and 1968.
In 1969, the ATCC was converted into the five-race series. Driving a Ford Mustang, Bob Jane won a race at Calder Park and finished sixth in the points. In 1970, the championship was expanded to seven races. Bob Jane was on a podium four times, finishing third in the points.
Winning two ATCC titles in a Chevrolet Camaro
In 1971, Bob Jane Racing Team switched to Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 and Bob Jane won the championship title. In seven races, he won three times and won the championship ahead of Allan Moffat who also won three races.
In 1972, Bob Jane was even more successful, winning four races in a Chevrolet Camaro and taking his fourth ATCC title in a career. While dominating in the ATCC, he had no luck at Hardie-Ferodo 500 race at Mount Panorama, retiring after just fifty laps in a Holden Torana.
Last attempt at Bathurst 1000 in 1977
After winning his fourth ATCC title in 1972, Bob Jane slowed down his racing activities and participated in just two championship races in 1973. He did the same in 1974 and then appeared in just one ATCC race in 1975.
In 1973, the endurance race at Mount Panorama was 1000 kilometers long for the first time. Bob Jane and John Harvey finished fourth in a Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1. Next year, he shared a car with Frank Gardner but retired after just nine laps.
Bob Jane's last attempt at Bathurst 1000 was in 1977 when he was sharing the #3 Holden LX Torana with Ian Geoghegan. They didn't finish the race.
Retiring from racing at the end of 1981
In 1977, Jane contested a full season in the Australian Sports Sedan Series with Holden Monaro, finishing second in the points, behind Frank Gardner.
Jane returned to the Australian Sports Sedan in 1980, driving a Chevrolet Monza and scoring one victory in seven races. Jane's last competitive season was 1981 when he participated in four races in a Chevrolet Monza, winning two times.
Great contribution to Australian motorsport
After retiring from racing as a driver at the age of 52, Bob Jane gave a great contribution to Australian motorsport through other duties. From 1980 to 1984, he was a promoter of the Australian Grand Prix at Calder Park, hoping that Calder Park could get an F1 Championship, although it was an unrealistic plan.
In 1987, he opened a Thunderdome oval race track on the grounds of Calder Park, bringing stock car racing to Australia. Jane also owned the Adelaide International Raceway.
Bob Jane was inducted into the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame in 2000. He died from prostate cancer in September 2018.