I’m sure I’m not the only one to watch with interest last year when six times Australian Sports Sedan champion Kerry Baily launched his latest challenger – an Aston Martin DBR9. Sports Sedan, the category where basically anything goes, has always (for me, at least) been a slightly comedic racing class, where teams would aim to build the fastest tube frame racer with the biggest possible engine, and then shell it in the most unlikely bodywork. The whole class functions around the simple preposition of ordinary, everyday cars racing wheel to wheel at astronomical speeds you’d never expect.
So I was initially a little confused when I first saw pictures of the DBR9. Imagination is the only limit in Sports Sedans so it could be a home creation, but then again a genuine DBR9, Aston’s just superseded factory international GT racer and Le Mans enduro challenger, would theoretically fit within the Sports Sedan rules.
I was recently at the Shannon’s Nationals at Mallala shooting a story for popular Australian car blog Downshift Aus (you can see the story here), so I found time to check out Bailey’s Aston in a little more detail.
So the short answer is that it isn’t a real one. Several years ago Kerry was traveling in England and saw the factory DBR9’s racing and fell in love with them, deciding that a DBR9 would have to be his next Sports Sedan. He investigated building one out of an actual DB9 road car, but determined that it wasn’t worth it as “the only things that would be retained would be the badges at either end”.
Gold Coast bodywork experts Dennis Bedford and Rob Sarvo were consulted, and it was decided that the easiest way to replicate the DBR9 would be to simply up-scale a 1/18 model. This Minichamps 1/18 was purchased, in full Le Mans trim no less, and the careful measurements began.
For example, all of the bodywork can be completely removed in under a minute. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re due on the grid immediately and you’re trying to fix a problem, this could be the difference between making a race or not.
The DBR9 doesn’t run an Aston V12 like the real car, rather it sticks to the tried and true Sports Sedan formula of a Chevrolet SB2 Nascar V8. It is still carburetored (!), however it produces a reliable 780hp, so you can’t really complain. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via an Amco 6 speed sequential transaxle.
The DBR9 is a completely custom car and you can see how every part is handmade, like the rocker cover, modified to accommodate the steering arm. The steel tube chassis coupled with the extensive use of carbon fiber has kept the weight down to 1165kg with driver.
The DBR9 is a highly effective Sports Sedan, winning all 3 races at its debut event and going on to take Baily to his 6th national championship in 2012. And I think Baily sums the DBR9, and Sports Sedans in general perfectly when he says “I love Sports Sedans, you can create something special then go and race it”.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles