Garry Rogers Motorsport has its origins in 1963 when Garry Rogers began racing Appendix J Holdens. He then went on to race Sports Sedans during the late 1960s and the 1970s. In the mid-1970s Rogers got more serious, running a BDA Escort in Sports Sedans with some success, before moving onto an ex-Ian Geoghegan Holden Monaro. Around this time, in late 1978, Rogers also moved into the Australian Touring Car Championship as a privateer in an ex-Bob Jane Holden Torana. He ran through until the end of 1979 in touring cars before turning his attention back to Sports Sedans, putting in a big effort in the 1981 Australian Sports Sedan Championship driving a Holden Torana LX SS A9X Hatchback.
The team disbanded while Rogers concentrated on his Nissan dealership and he drove for other teams at the Bathurst 1000, including Allan Browne’s Re-Car team in 1982 paired with Ron Wanless (who famously drove the Commodore the wrong direction through pit lane without incurring a penalty). Rogers was a top 10 qualifier at Bathurst in 1983, partnering Clive Benson-Brown to a 13th-place finish after suffering brake problems, while in 1984 he drove with Melbourne’s motor racing ‘Gentleman’, Captain Peter Janson in the Castrol 500 at Sandown, and the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst in Janson’s Commodore. The car failed to finish both endurance races.
As Australian touring car racing went to regulations based on FIA Group A from 1985, Rogers once again only drove at Sandown and Bathurst, teaming with Melbourne solicitor Jim Keogh in Keogh’s ex-JPS Team BMW 635 CSi. After not finishing at Sandown, the pair finished 6th outright at Bathurst, 4 laps behind the TWR Jaguar XJS of John Goss and Armin Hahne.
GRM re-emerged in 1986 when he purchased a BMW 635 CSi from JPS Team BMW and drove it throughout that year’s touring car season. The year included a win in one of the AMSCAR Series races at Amaroo Park. Rogers BMW carried sponsorship from Bob Jane T-Marts, with the car painted in Bob Jane’s famous Hugger Orange. At the 1986 James Hardie 1000, Rogers teamed with Queenslander Charlie O’Brien. After qualifying 22nd, O’Brien started the race, but the car was struck down by a slipping clutch which led to its retirement after just 19 laps with Rogers not actually getting to drive.
After spending 1987 on ice, the team came back in late-1988 with a Les Small (Roadways Racing) prepared, but unsponsored Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV at the Tooheys 1000, sharing the drive with American John Andretti, the nephew of motor racing legend Mario Andretti. Rogers had originally wanted Mario to drive with him at Bathurst, hoping his high-profile would help land a major sponsor, but the 1978 World Champion was unavailable and suggested his nephew as a replacement. Unfortunately though, the younger Andretti was recovering from a broken leg (he still needed crutches outside of the car), continued the tradition of American drivers not having a good Bathurst record and on lap 37 put the Commodore into the wall at Reid Park. To his credit Andretti admitted the accident was caused by driver error, going too fast, too soon, on cold tyres.
The Commodore was also run in selected (mostly Victorian based) rounds throughout the 1989 Australian Touring Car Championship. For the 1989 Bathurst 1000, Rogers accepted an offer to drive Colin Bond’s Caltex CXT Race Team’s second Ford Sierra RS500 with Ken Mathews (the car was the Sierra that Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera had driven to victory the 1988 race). Rogers and Mathews failed to finish the race. In the early 1990s GRM turned its attention to the Calder Park Thunderdome and the AUSCAR series running a variety of Ford Falcons during the category’s heyday (during the 1990s AUSCAR fields were dominated by the Holden Commodore). At first, Rogers drove the car himself alongside Paul Fordham. Garry slowly eased himself out of regular driving, putting Steven Richards in the seat. The team also secured a major sponsor in Valvoline along the way.
In this time the team also competed in Production Car racing at events such as the Winton 300 and Bathurst 12 Hour. The team used a Nissan Pulsar and a 300ZX due to Rogers’ links with Nissan (he owned a Nissan dealership in Melbourne). Rogers also ran and then assisted Formula Ford teams during the 1990s, helping title sponsor Valvoline’s promotion of Australian motorsport, as well as helping drivers such as Steven Richards and Garth Tander.