Formula One returns to the streets at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival Victoria Park Sprint

AMF_Victoria_Park 1427Adelaide’s Victoria Park once again reverberated to the sound of multiple Formula One cars at the recent Adelaide Motorsport Festival Victoria Park Sprint, held on a shortened version of the famous street circuit in the parklands fringing the CBD in mid April.

AMF_Victoria_Park 1427 (1)With Adelaidians still a little bitter over the brutal theft of our popular Grand Prix by the Victorian Government in 1995, the Adelaide Motorsport Festival provided an opportunity to relive those glory days and dream of the remote possibility that the top tier of motorsport may return to our streets one day.

AMF_Victoria_Park 1428But more on the Formula One cars later, because solely focusing on them would be selling the Adelaide Motorsport Festival short. Whilst our favorite open wheelers stole the limelight, there was a strong support program of classes jam packed with all manner of interesting and exotic machinery.

AMF_Victoria_Park 1469The Victoria Park Sprint formed the second day of the two-day festival and consisted of a timed sprint around the section of permanent circuit in Victoria Park. After negotiating the famous Senna Chicane, competitors turned hard right for a sprint up Wakefield Street before another hard right hairpin sent them back onto the permanent track and into Victoria Park once more. Whilst the cars were not out-and-out racing, very spirited driving was permitted and indeed encouraged.  Continue reading

Adelaide Motorsport Festival Media Launch

AMF_Media_Day 905The upcoming Adelaide Motorsport Festival was launched to the media last week with a display of several important racing cars on the Victoria Park circuit, including two Formula One cars that raced in the Adelaide Grand Prix in the eighties.

AMF_Media_Day 909The inaugural event, to be held on the weekend of 12-13 April, has been described as a virtual ‘museum-in-motion’ and celebrates South Australia’s rich motorsport heritage. The event commences on Saturday with the (still to be confirmed) Windy Point Hillclimb, although Sunday’s Victoria Park Sprint will be the headline component and the one that draws the crowds. A section of Wakefield Road will be used to link up a complete circuit with the permanent section of the Clipsal 500/Grand Prix circuit in Victoria Park, creating the perfect setting for the competition vehicles to stretch their legs in the heart of the CBD fringe.

AMF_Media_Day 893Ten Formula One vehicles have so far been confirmed for the event, including the first ever Lotus F1 car from 1957, a 1974 March, the Beatrice Lola Hart driven by Alan Jones in 1985, his 1980 World Championship winning Williams and the car’s shown here. It will be a rare opportunity to not just see these cars, but to hear and experience them being properly worked as their designers intended. Continue reading

John Blanden’s Climb to the Eagle 2013

DSC_0103All good things must come to an end, so the maxim goes, however hand-in-hand with the negative is the positive that regeneration occasionally spawns new traditions. I’m not going to stand here and say that we’d rather have the Climb to the Eagle over a return of Formula One to Adelaide, that would be crazy, but in it’s absence this is a mighty fine way to spend a sunny Friday.

DSC_0031The tradition began back in 1985 when a freshly retired John Blanden suggested to the Australian Grand Prix corp that there should be a classic car component to the first Adelaide Grand Prix. They were extremely receptive of the idea but not to making it a reality, and informed Blanden that if his dream was to come to fruition, he must organise it himself.

DSC_0037With the help of the Sporting Car Club of SA, Blanden turned his idea into one of the highlights of the event and the crown in his classic car roster was the Climb to the Eagle. Held on the Friday morning of race weekend, a traditionally quiet time at any Grand Prix, a large contingent of high quality cars would depart from the start line and navigate their way through peak hour traffic with a police escort before a short blast up the twisty old freeway to a morning tea at the Eagle on the Hill Hotel, just 10km away but with sprawling views of the metropolitan area. Continue reading

Roots in racing – the Porsche Cayenne Medical Car

DSC_0386Doctors and Porsche’s, it’s a marketing match made in heaven, right? But as we all know (highlighted by this excellent video), as much as the public opinion of Porsche may be linked to the medical and legal professions, its real roots are in racing, not posing. (seriously, watch the video).

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 10.07.08 PMAnyone who attended the recent Clipsal 500 or watched it on TV probably saw this colourful Cayenne chasing the field on the opening lap as the medical car and didn’t think twice about it. The 4.8 litre V8, 309kw Cayenne GTS carries the chief medical officer, other medical staff and their equipment and is the first response vehicle in the case of a serious accident.

DSC_0388However a closer look reveals a fascinating livery designed to celebrate 2013 as the 50th anniversary of the immortal Porsche 911. The entire car is covered in racing and rally posters from the 1960’s and 1970’s, from the Rallye Monte-Carlo…

DSC_0394… to the Targa Florio, the 24 hours of Daytona and everything in between.

DSC_0392Now of course one could argue the significance of using the Cayenne as a platform to celebrate the 911, given that many view the Cayenne as the car that first started the bastardization of the Porsche brand. But I prefer to view it another way; the Cayenne is without a doubt an excellent cash cow, and over the last decade has provided Porsche with the capital needed to make the 911 what it is today. Would the 997 GT3RS 4.0 be so divinely brilliant if the Cayenne didn’t provide the funds enabling its development? The Cayenne has probably done more for the 911 than most diehard’s would care to admit.

Either way, let’s hope the fate of the 911 tribute Cayenne medical car is a little better than last year’s Panamera that preceded it…

Clipsal 500 2013 – The Race Days

DSC_0540After what felt like a week of waiting, Saturday was finally race day for Australian GT and the Koala Motorsport team.

However the first race wasn’t until 530pm on Saturday, which left a little time in the morning to get out and do some spectating.

DSC_0294Everyone seems to have their favorite spots to watch from around the track, and mine is the tight series of corners from Turn 4 to Turn 7. The only real downside is the lack of big screens, however free grandstand seating, lovely shade trees, nice surrounding houses and for some reason fewer bogans than other parts of the circuit make it top of my pick.

DSC_0295The slow corners also give you time to get a good look at the cars.

DSC_0377It also gives you the opportunity to have the most interesting conversations with other punters. I met one guy, drinking a beer at 930am, who told me he’s going to buy an Aussie Racing Car as soon as his work compo payout comes through, and another chap who informed me that some of the V8 Supercars have CD players so the drivers can listen to music to ‘get them in the mood for racing’. DSC_0420DSC_0421At Turn 7 you can stand practically right on the apex of the corner. As a normal spectator, it’s about as close to the action as you can get.

DSC_0615The Saturday crowds were huge, and the majority of our morning was spent letting people look over and sit in the 360. I have a memory as a 12 year old kid of a race mechanic letting me sit in one of the Ferrari’s at Clipsal, probably in about the year 2000. This time, a 12 year old kid came up to me and started asking about the Ferrari. First thing I did was ask him if he wanted to sit in it, and he jumped at the opportunity. I see it as just paying back the favor! Continue reading

Clipsal 500 2013 – a flaming day 1

DSC_0221After the relaxing day that was Wednesday, we approached Thursday with a great deal of excitement. Everybody was sick of waiting around, and just wanted to get out on track and get the event proper underway.

DSC_0003Yesterday’s post highlighted that we were one of the few crews who made the driver take his own tires to the Pirelli truck. This morning we even made him clean his own windscreen!

DSC_0014But before we could get out on track, we had a drivers briefing to attend. It was actually a bit of an interesting experience. The only circuit racing drivers briefings I’ve been to have been for low level club events, and they seem to feel the need to go through everything in the most minutest of detail. This one was different – the race officials assumed a basic level of competence and experience to be racing at this level, and kept the briefing short and sweet with just the points relating to this specific circuit.

DSC_0013However it was still a drivers briefing, which by default means the drivers have to show at least some level of boredom.

DSC_0019The briefing was finished by a talk from driving standards observer Steven Richards. Most of his talk focused on the notorious Turn 8, which has been responsible for more than its fair share of wrecked vehicles over the years. You can really only go single file around that corner, so it was decided that whoever has the nose in front at the 150m braking marker gets the corner, and the other has to back out. Continue reading

2013 Clipsal 500 event launch

The 2013 Clipsal 500, to be held from 28 Feb – 3 March, was officially launched to the public and media of Adelaide last Friday in a midday event on the circuit at Victoria Park. I don’t usually go to these sorts of events because they can be a little dull at times, but the opportunity to have a quick lunchtime look at some GT cars proved too irresistible to miss.

And I guess coming from the Clipsal organisers it should come as no surprise, but the launch event was far bigger than I expected. A few thousand people watched on as examples from each of the support categories drove at moderate speed around an abbreviated version of the track, and a rather big announcement was made to the gathered crowd.

Mr Block himself, along with his rather nuts Olsbergs MSE prepared 650+hp Fiesta Gymkhana car, will run drift demonstrations on all four days of the event. Regardless of how highly you rate Block’s videos and his approach to motorsport in general, this is a huge coup for the event and is sure to drive a huge crowd. Just remember, here’s a guy who has the pull to have suburban San Francisco shut down so he can run amuck filming a gymkhana video which has had nearly 33 million hits on Youtube in just 4 months, and he’s coming for a 4 day performance in Adelaide.  Continue reading