European Touring Car Championship
The European Touring Car Championship was an international motor racing competition organized by the FIA. It had two incarnations, the first one between 1963 and 1988, and the second on between 2000 and 2004.
The ETCC, as it was known, was started in 1963 by Willy Stenger, who created the series at the behest of the FIA. It allowed a variety of touring cars of different sizes and displacements to race together, from the small Fiat 600 and Mini to the large Jaguar Mark 2, Mercedes-Benz 300SE and Chevrolet Camaro.
In 1963 races or hillclimbing events at Nürburgring, Mont Ventoux, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park, Zolder, Zandvoort, Timmelsjoch and even in a park in Budapest counted towards the ETCC, which was won by German Peter Nöcker and his Jaguar.
In 1966, the FIA introduced new rules for touring car, Group 1 (for standard touring cars) and Group 2 (for modified touring cars).
In 1968, the regulations were more liberal, and Group 5 cars were allowed. This situation persisted for two years, when Group 2 and Group 4 (for modified Grand tourer cars) were made the principal classes. Still, real touring cars like the BMW 2002 and 3.0 CS, Alfa Romeo GTA and Ford Escort were the teams' favorites, although the Porsche 911 did take part in the races.
Group 5 cars were allowed back in 1973, but with the 1973 oil crisis, the following two seasons had few entrants. It was only in 1977 that the situation was normalized with the return of factory teams. Rules now allowed only Group 2 and Group 1B "National" cars to compete together, with BMW 3.0 Coupé CSL and Capri RS remaining the most competitive entries, as in the similar Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft.
In 1982, the FIA replaced Groups 1 and 2 with Group N and Group A. The first one was mainly ignored by the ETCC entrants, all cars going the Group A route. BMW and Alfa Romeo prepared regular touring cars for the championship, but it was the big-engined Tom Walkinshaw Racing prepared Jaguar XJS and Rover 3500 Vitesse that would be more competitive in the years to come, fighting against the turbocharged Volvo 240 and Ford Sierra Cosworth.
The championship was cancelled after the end of the 1988 season, due to escalating costs (a one-off World Touring Car Championship in 1987 also exarcebated the problem). By then, the FIA had allowed "Evolution" models to be homologated, and it was special cars such as the BMW M3 Evo and Ford Sierra RS500 that dominated the grids.
The Macau Grand Prix's Guia Race, the Spa 24 Hours and the 24 Hours Nürburgring were the only international touring car races during those years. With the success and popularity of Supertouring in many national championships, the FIA organized the one-round Super Touring World Cup for these cars, between 1994 and 1996. In 1995, the FIA promoted the DTM, which already had races outside Germany in its calendar, to International Touringcar Championship (ITC), but once more escalating costs ended the series after two seasons.
It wasn't until 2000 that the FIA once more created an international touring car competition, promoting the Italian Superturismo Championship to European Super Touring Cup. In 2002, this evolved into the brand new European Touring Car Championship, dominated by BMW and Alfa Romeo, but popular with the public due to the intense competition and Eurosport live broadcasts.
In 2005, the ETCC was promoted to WTCC, and the European title was given to a one-off European Touring Car Cup, with the best representatives from national championships running to WTCC regulations.