Allan Horsley, the man behind 30 years of Mazda motorsport success in Australia, has announced his retirement from the company.
In recent years, Horsley has been best known for spearheading Mazda Australia’s tarmac rally successes, but his contribution to the Australian motorsport history books extends far deeper.
Prior to joining Mazda, Horsley managed the now-defunct Oran Park racing circuit between 1965 and 1981.
His tenure constituted the track’s golden era, hosting a wide variety of motorsports, including its inclusion in the Australian Touring Car Championship calendar.
During this time, he signed a young Peter Brock to race exclusively at Oran Park for a period, proudly claiming; "we were the first to ever pay Brock [to race]”.
Horsley’s Mazda days started in 1981, when he was hired as team manager of Allan Moffat’s Peter Stuyvesant RX-7 Group C Touring Car team.
This relationship resulted in three successive Australian Endurance Championship crowns between 1982 and 1984.
Horsley’s next great team success came in the form of four successive 12 hour production car race wins between 1992 and 1995, again in RX-7s.
This 1995 victory came in the form of a giant-killing performance by Mazda Motorsport’s locally developed RX-7 SP model, at the hands of touring car legends Dick Johnson and John Bowe.
The SP program saw the construction of 35 RX-7 SP road cars in order to be homologated for the race, which are now highly sought after by collectors.
Horsley’s team was responsible for a limited run of locally tweaked Eunos 800M flagship saloons in 1998, also badged SP.
The next performance road car to emerge from Horsley’s stable was the limited-build MX-5 SP in 2002. These were the first MX-5s to feature turbocharged engines and foreshadowed the factory developed SE model a couple of years later.
Since the early 2000’s Horsley’s Mazda Motorsport team’s main focus has been tarmac rallying, fielding a number of RX-8 and 3 MPS entries at events around the country, most recently enjoying a Showroom category victory at last month’s Targa Tasmania.
Horsley’s racing efforts have always presented as a professional ‘works’ team of the highest order, but the truth is that much of the vehicle development and construction have been undertaken in a humble workshop within Mazda’s NSW headquarters.
“His ability to overcome challenges and deliver giant-killing victories has played a huge role in putting Mazda Motorsport and our brand on the map”, said Mazda Australia boss Doug Dickson.
Despite heading the Mazda Motorsport team, Horsley has for some time also filled the role of Mazda’s NSW PR Manager, with an established willingness to get his hands dirty in getting the job done.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mazda and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with so many great people across both motorsport and Public Relations. I’m sure that many of these relationships will continue and with a lifetime of motorsport in the blood, I’m sure I won’t be losing my interest in cars any time soon”, Horsley said.
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