To­day and to­mor­row

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

To­day

the F1 race is a dis­tant mem­ory for most Aus­tralian mo­tor rac­ing fans. Yet it’s not been for­got­ten by South Aus­tralians. Last Novem­ber the Vic­to­ria Park sec­tion of the old track echoed once more to the sound of F1 cars com­pet­ing at the Ade­laide Motorsport Fes­ti­val (be­low).

And ear­lier this year, the Ade­laide City Coun­cil re­quested the state govern­ment in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing the GP back to South Aus­tralia. In the un­likely event of that hap­pen­ing, it wouldn’t be tak­ing place on the orig­i­nal lay­out. Ade­laide’s new tram net­work cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion will cut across Run­dle Road, ef­fec­tively slic­ing off the sec­tion from Ba­nana Bend to Turn 10.

In any case, F1 is now part of Ade­laide’s past. To­day, the Park­lands cir­cuit is more syn­ony­mous with Su­per­cars and the an­nual sea­son-open­ing Clip­sal 500 (although Clip­sal won’t be the nam­ing rights spon­sor from 2018 on).

The idea came from then V8 Su­per­cars chief Tony Cochrane. The plan was to re­vive the track to host a tour­ing car spec­tac­u­lar, us­ing an abridged 3.2km lay­out that turned off East Ter­race at Bar­tels Road, thereby avoid­ing the sec­tion down through Ba­nana Bend and onto Run­dle Road. As Bar­tels and Run­dle Roads run par­al­lel, the new corner onto De­quet­teville Ter­race was al­most iden­ti­cal to the old Turn 10 on the orig­i­nal track. This would be the in­fa­mous Turn 8.

The shorter lay­out had the ad­van­tage of re­duced set up costs (an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion given that none of the orig­i­nal con­crete walls could be reused – they’d been sold off to Mel­bourne for its race) and re­duced traf­fic dis­rup­tion, while re­tain­ing much of the essence of the orig­i­nal lay­out.

Just as Ade­laide whole­heart­edly em­braced the ‘Clip­sal’, fairly quickly the event es­tab­lished it­self as the most pres­ti­gious on the Su­per­cars cal­en­dar out­side of the Bathurst 1000.

The rea­son it’s so spe­cial is the track it­self. Just as the F1 race had been to the wider For­mula 1 world, the Ade­laide 500 was a wholly new ex­pe­ri­ence in Aus­tralian tour­ing car rac­ing. For one thing, twin 250km races around a con­crete canyon in late Fe­bru­ary South Aus­tralian heat was (and re­mains) a supreme test of phys­i­cal en­durance for the driv­ers.

Next year will be the 20th run­ning of the event. It has en­dured al­most twice as long as the F1 race which pre­ceded it, and in all like­li­hood will con­tinue well into the fu­ture.

There will, how­ever, be chal­lenges. For one, the event re­mains de­pen­dent on state govern­ment bless­ing and fund­ing – with­out those it sim­ply won’t hap­pen. And with ever in­creas­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion in the city (some­thing which might be eased by the new tram net­work), not all South Aus­tralian vot­ers think it’s a good idea. It’s also yet to be de­ter­mined what ef­fect, if any, the new mo­tor rac­ing fa­cil­ity at Tailem Bend will have – and whether or not there is room for two Su­per­cars Cham­pi­onship rounds in South Aus­tralia.

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