His­tory 101

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

There

have been var­i­ous failed schemes to bring the World Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship down un­der since the early 1960s. War­wick Farm was touted; even Mount Panorama in the mid 1970s. One plan – which had some cred­i­bil­ity, given that the man be­hind it was re­spected pro­moter/ en­tre­pre­neur Paul Dainty – called for a street race around Syd­ney’s his­toric Rocks dis­trict. Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Fraser went into the 1980 fed­eral elec­tion promis­ing a grand prix on a new cir­cuit in Can­berra.

Into the 1980s, more tan­gi­ble pro­pos­als emerged. Bob Jane had hopes of host­ing an F1 race at Calder, and seemed pre­pared to ex­tend the cir­cuit to do it. Mean­while over on the other side of Mel­bourne, the Light Car Club had se­cured state govern­ment fund­ing for a re­hash of Sandown so that it could host a round of the 1984 World En­durance Cham­pi­onship.

This was sig­nif­i­cant, be­cause the up­graded Sandown now met the min­i­mum length re­quire­ments for an F1 track. If we were go­ing to get an F1 race, Sandown ap­peared to be in pole po­si­tion.

But there was also a bid from Ade­laide. It was an idea dreamed up by busi­ness­man and for­mer racer Bill O’Gor­man, who thought an F1 GP through the streets of Ade­laide would be good way to celebrate South Aus­tralia’s sesqui­cen­te­nary in 1986. The Ade­laide City Coun­cil agreed, as did the chief of the SA Ju­bilee 150 Com­mit­tee, Kim Bonython (who was also the for­mer pro­moter of the leg­endary Row­ley Park Speed­way).

Cru­cially, F1 supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone also liked the Ade­laide street cir­cuit con­cept – so much so that he saw it as a long-term deal and not the sin­gle 1986 race en­vis­aged by O’Gor­man.

This would be a turn­ing point, be­cause a multi-year con­tract needed the in­volve­ment of the state govern­ment. So premier John Ban­non took over the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Ec­cle­stone him­self.

The deal struck was for three years with an op­tion on the fol­low­ing four. But, Ec­cle­stone stip­u­lated, the first race had to be 1985, not ’86. With

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