The V8 Supercars Championship has started a search for a new non-executive chairman after the announcement by Tony Cochrane - the long-time driving force behind the series - that he is to retire from the role at the end of the current season.

"It is with a mixture of enormous pride and nostalgia that I will be stepping down as Executive Chairman of a sport that has been such an integral part of my life for almost two decades," said Cochrane in his announcement. "I have been honoured to represent this great sport and importantly the Teams for a very long time.

"I have been in ongoing dialogue with the Board about my future role and aspirations, culminating in this announcement today," he continued. "Like all of these things there is never a perfect time to step down, however the sport is in tremendous shape, has an unbelievable future and we have delivered on a number of key initiatives."

Those initiatives include the confirmation of two new marques entering the sport, new events in Texas and New Zealand, and the upcoming 50th year of racing at Bathurst.

Cochrane added that he would continue to work with V8 Supercars as an external senior advisor and would retain his investment in the series, which he has been a major part of ever since its inception 16 years ago in 1996.

"I have enjoyed an amazing journey, in a sport I love with the support of so many during that journey," he said. "I am eager to embrace a new journey in whatever I choose to get involved with, be it sport, entertainment or my other entrepreneurial interests.

"The Board and the senior management team are in great shape and the time feels right," he added. "I leave with no regrets and on my own terms at a time that I believe is right for the sport. I am very proud of my V8 Supercar legacy and my involvement in Australian motorsport."

Andrew Gray, the director of V8 Supercars' majority investor AMRP, paid tribute to Cochrane after the news was announced.

"We would like to congratulate Tony on the extraordinary contribution he has made to the development and success of V8 Supercars," said Gray. "We continue to be passionate about the future of V8 Supercars and are thrilled that Tony has agreed to continue to advise and assist us in the execution of our growth plans."