Marcos Ambrose is an Australian racing driver, a double champion of the V8 Supercars (in 2003 and 2004). He scored 28 wins in 147 V8 Supercars races. Between 2006 and 2014, he participated in 326 NASCAR races and became the first Australian to win the race in the Sprint Cup Series.
Marcos' father was a racing driver and chassis builder
Marcos Ambrose was born on September 1st, 1976, in Launceston, Tasmania. His father Ross was a racing driver and he was, along with Ralph Firman Sr., the co-founder of the Formula Ford chassis builder Van Diemen. Because of the connection with the racing world, he began to race with karts very early, at the age of 10. Until 1995, he won many karting titles and he concluded his karting career winning the Australian karting championship.
Racing debut in the Australian Formula Ford
In 1996, Ambrose moved to Formula Ford. In his debuting year, he won one race and scored three more podiums, finishing 4th in the classification. Together with one of his rivals Jason Bargwanna, he represented Australia at the 1996 Formula Opel Nations Cup at Donington Park, England. Thirteen teams participated and the young Australians finished eighth.
Ambrose finished second in the 1997 Australian Formula Ford championship, with five wins in 16 races. The champion was Garth Tander.
Marcos moved to Europe in 1998
In 1998, Ambrose moved to Europe. He wanted to be closer to Formula One teams and managers. He continued to race in British Formula Ford, reaching the fifth and fourth place. He won his first championship title in the 1999 European Formula Ford.
In 2000, Ambrose progressed to Formula 3, competing in France and Great Britain. He participated in twelve events without any notable results. Ambrose was disappointed with the results, and as he didn't have the budget to stay in Europe, he gave up on his dream about Formula One. Marcos returned to Australia and entered the 2001 V8 Supercars Shell Championship Series.
Pole position at debuting V8 Supercars event
Ambrose signed a contract with Stone Brothers Racing to drive the #4 Ford Falcon AU. He surprised everybody with pole position in his debuting event, at the Australian Grand Prix support race. He took two more pole positions later during the year, including the pole at the 2001 Bathurst 1000. In his first Mount Panorama classic, Marcos finished in 11th place, with Wayne Wakefield as his co-driver.
Ambrose was the Rookie of the Year
After 30 races, Ambrose finished 8th in the championship, winning the Rookie of the Year award. He reached eight podiums. He also won the fourth round of the season at Hidden Valley Raceway. He didn't win any of the three races there but had the most points.
In 2002, Ambrose continued to race in #4 Ford. He took the pole position and his maiden V8 SC victory at the second round at Phillip Island. He scored one more win in the final round at Sandown and finished the championship in third place, behind Mark Skaife and Greg Murphy. At Bathurst, Ambrose qualified 7th and finished 21st, with Paul Weel as a co-driver.
The first championship title with a new Ford Falcon
In 2003, Stone Brothers and Marcos had a new Ford Falcon BA and they won the championship title with that car. Ambrose started with the victory in the season-opening Clipsal 500. In 13 rounds and 22 races, Ambrose scored nine victories and collected 102 points more that second-placed Greg Murphy. Ambrose partnered Russell Ingall at Mount Panorama's 1000-km race and they finished 6th.
One more title with 11 victories
In 2004, Marcos was driving the Pirtek-coloured #1 Ford Falcon BA. He opened the season by winning both races of the opening round in Adelaide. Later in the season, he took five more wins and came to the final round at Eastern Creek with an unbeatable lead. He won all three races at Eastern Creek and took his second title with 11 victories and 20 podiums. Ambrose's teammate Ingall finished second in the championship. Marcos missed the podium at Bathurst 1000, finishing fourth. His co-driver was Greg Ritter.
Controversial crash at 2005 Bathurst
Early in 2005, Ambrose traveled to the United States to participate at 24 Hours of Daytona. Together with fellow Australian drivers Paul Morris, Craig Baird and John Teulan, he formed the Aussie Assault team and they competed with Porsche 996 GT3 Cup. They retired after 271 laps.
Ambrose started the 2005 V8 Supercars season with two victories at the opening round in Adelaide. He remained in the championship lead until round 10 at the Bathurst 1000. At Mount Panorama, he was involved in a controversial crash with Greg Murphy. Both of them blamed one another for the crash. Ambrose lost the lead in the championship and at the end of the season, he finished third, behind his teammate Russell Ingall and Craig Lowndes.
Marcos left V8SC and entered NASCAR Truck Series
At the start of the 2005 season, Marcos Ambrose announced that he would leave V8 Supercars. He had a plan to try racing in NASCAR. During 2005, he signed with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing for the participation in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Ford F-150.
Ambrose made his Truck Series debut on April 1, 2006, at the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. He qualified 20th and finished 33rd after being caught up in an incident. During the season, his best results were two third places at Kansas Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway. He also won the pole position at Kentucky Speedway and lead the most laps in the race itself. Ambrose participated in 22 races and finished 21st in the series classification. He was third in the Rookie of the Year standings.
In 2007, Ambrose stepped up to the NASCAR Busch Series, still with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. He was driving the #59 Kingsford Ford Fusion. His best result of the season was sixth place at Dover in May. He reached five Top 10 finishes in 35 races and finished in the 8th position in the series. He was second best rookie behind David Ragan.
Double NASCAR program since 2008
Ambrose was close to his first NASCAR victory at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. He was the dominant driver of the day, having led for 37 laps. During the race, he had two collisions with Robby Gordon who threw him out from the lead. Gordon later apologized and made a peace offer to Ambrose, claiming that Ambrose could race Gordon's #77 Ford. Ambrose never materialized that peace offer and never drove Gordon's car.
Wood Brothers Racing and JTG Racing split into two teams prior to the season 2008. Ambrose continued to race in the renamed NASCAR Nationwide Series with JTG Racing's #59 Ford. He was also scheduled to drive for both teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The plan was to drive a total of 16 races with the #21 Ford for the Wood Brothers and the #47 car for JTG Racing. However, due to various issues, he only ran 11 races in the Sprint Cup.
Ambrose debuted in the Sprint Cup Series on June 22nd, 2008, at Sonoma. He qualified 7th with Wood Brothers' #21 Ford and was running in the top 3, but he spun and finished 42nd. His best result was third place at Watkins Glen road course on August 10th.
Ambrose became the master of the Glen
One day earlier, Ambrose scored his first ever NASCAR victory at the same track. He won 200-mile Nationwide Series race for the first time. He would later become the most successful series' driver at the Glen.
Ambrose finished his second full season in the NASCAR Busch/Nationwide Series in 10th place. In 2009, he switched completely to the Sprint Cup Series with JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Toyota Camry. In the following two seasons, Ambrose reached seven Top 10 finishes in 2009 and five more in 2010. He finished 18th in the final classification of the 2009 season and 26th one year later. His best results were second place at Watkins Glen in 2009 and third place at the same track in 2010.
Marcos also drove #47 Toyota at two road course races of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, at the Watkins Glen and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. He won at the Glen, both in 2009 and 2010, and finished second in Montreal in 2009.
Maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup victory
For 2011, Ambrose signed a deal with Richard Petty Motorsports to drive the #9 Ford Fusion. He reached twelve Top 10 finishes but the highlight of the season was a fantastic week with two wins at two different road courses.
On August 15th, he won the 90 laps race at the Watkins Glen. It was the first victory of the Australian driver in NASCAR's premium series. A week later, Ambrose proved that he was the master of the road courses and he won Nationwide Series race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
Ambrose finished the 2011 Sprint Cup season 19th in the final points standings.
Ambrose scored seven NASCAR victories, six at the Glen
The following season was the best in Ambrose's NASCAR career. In 2012 Sprint Cup Series, he finished in the Top 10 eight times and took 18th position in the final standings, and tied the result from the 2009 season. He won once again at the Glen. It was his fifth victory at the former F1 track in two different series.
In the following two seasons, Ambrose scored no more victories in the Sprint Cup Series, even at Watkins Glen. In 2013, Ambrose's #9 Ford finished six times in Top 10 and he ended the season 22nd in the points standings. In 2014, Ambrose was second at the Glen behind A.J. Allmendinger. The Australian driver finished in the Top 10 six more times and concluded his last NASCAR season in the 23rd position. The season was also marked by a punching duel between Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears after Richmond 400 race.
On August 9th, 2014, Ambrose scored his seventh and last victory in the NASCAR. He won Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen, on the track where he won six times in total, four times in the Nationwide Series and two times in the Sprint Cup.
Third place finish at 2013 Daytona 24
Besides NASCAR, Ambrose had one successful attempt at 24 Hours of Daytona in 2013. He competed alongside A.J. Allmendinger, Oswaldo Negri, John Pew and Justin Wilson for Michael Shank Racing. Their #6 Riley-Ford prototype finished third overall.
In September 2014, Ambrose confirmed he would leave NASCAR at the end of the 2014 season. He announced a return to Australia because of family reasons but also because he accepted an offer to join DJR Team Penske in the V8 Supercars Championship. The new team was formed by Roger Penske and it was merged with Dick Johnson Racing.
Return to Australia in 2015
Ambrose returned to the V8 Supercars Championship as a wildcard entry with Dick Johnson's #66 Ford FG Falcon at the last round of the 2014 season. In 2015, he started the season with #17 Ford FG Falcon of DJR Team Penske. After a poor performance at the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, Ambrose was replaced by Scott Pye in the second round.
Pye was originally listed as an endurance co-driver, so he and Ambrose switched places and Ambrose became Pye's co-driver. They raced together at Sandown 500 (12th place), Bathurst 1000 (DNF) and Gold Coast 600 (8th and 21st). In 2016, DJR Penske expanded its operations to two cars and hired Fabian Coulthard alongside Scott Pye, so Marcos Ambrose lost his place as a driver.