Off track action at the Australian Grand Prix

Obviously the main attraction at the Australian Grand Prix was Formula 1, however there was also a lot of other fascinating displays happening off track. This is a bit of a random grab bag of the interesting things that stood out to me at Albert Park.

The trip for us started as soon as the clock at work ticked 430pm on Friday afternoon. Racing out the door and straight into the Miata, we hit the road and arrived in Melbourne at about 130am.

It was pretty dark out there at midnight in the middle of nowhere. I swear we didn’t imagine that…

Within a minute of walking in the circuit gate we found the first of the displays.

There was a nice lineup of classic rally cars.

Which included this mint and completely stock Mk1 Escort Mexico.

This Datsun KP711 was very clean.

And was fitted with a genuine set of Enkei Mag gravel rally wheels.

The BMW club of Victoria had a very strong display with some highly desirable machinery.

This E30 M3 looked incredible.

As did this E28 M5.

Love the 80’s headlight wiper blades.

This chassis is the base of a prototype sports car built in Victoria to showcase the depth of Australia’s engineering capability. It features a carbon fibre tub with this unique front suspension design. I’m not quite sure on it’s finer details, but the whole front aluminium assembly (and the chassis bolted to it) is hydraulically suspended through dampers mounted almost inside the wheel rims.

Power comes from the ubiquitous LS1…

… which sends its power through a Ferrari 355 transaxle. It looked like a lot of fun, but it seemed a little heavy with a kerb weight around 1400kg. I would expect something with a carbon tub to be a lot lighter.

Supercars were just randomly parked around the place, like this AMG SLS Roadster.

The ‘Red Bull Race Off’ featured a field of identical Megane RenaultSport RS250’s driven by the likes of Rick Kelley, Samantha Reid, Mike Whiddett and…

… David Coulthard.

One fan was so excited he thought it necessary to put a cone on his head. Whatever.

After Saturdays action we headed back into Melbourne city to see what kind of F1 buzz was about.

A crap photo I know, but proof that we actually saw a McLaren MP4-12C street driving. We heard it more than we saw it.

We had dinner and some wine on Southbank promenade while watching this artist chalk draw a picture of Ayrton Senna on the footpath…

… before heading out for some good old fashioned car hunting. We found this 80’s-to-the-max Testarossa outside Crowne.

… next to this 612 Scaglietti.

We went in for another beer at a Crowne lobby bar. You could tell it was F1 weekend, I’m guessing you don’t usually see Ferrari and Agip shirts out on a Saturday night in Melbourne.

It wasn’t as overt as I expected, but everywhere you looked you could still see little hints that the F1 circus was in town.

We spotted this Renault Alpine A610 on the walk in to the circuit on Sunday morning.

It’s the little things I love about an F1 meet, like how the odd ex F1 driver pops up in a support category here and there.

The Australian Ferrari clubs gathered to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the marque in Australia with a lineup of 60 Ferrari’s.

The highlight was obviously the 2 F40’s…

… but the two ultra-exotic 599 GTO’s were a very close runner up.

I’m digging 355’s more and more these days, and this Challenge on white Speedline’s was pretty close to perfect.

Ideal plates for a 360 Challenge Stradale, no?

But the displays of more attainable classics were just as interesting.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a Lotus 6 before, the forefather to the Lotus 7 clubman.

On Sunday afternoon it kind of felt like everyone was just waiting, killing time until the race began. As the drivers parade took place…

… and the Roulette’s flew overhead…

… everyone was scrambling to find their position to watch the race from.

We got a really good spot on the outside of Turn 15.

Where we watched Jenson Button take a deserved win. I wonder where I can get a pair of Jenson’s inscribed driving gloves from?

We scrambled onto the track after the race and rushed to pit straight so we could take as many photos of the F1 cars as possible. Nothing suss I swear.

Crew members of the Sauber team passed beers through the fence to people they knew

While a Red Bull team member signed some official looking FIA paperwork prior to the car’s official post race weigh in.

Serious steering wheel is serious.

Marky’s car.

Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso has some quite detailed artwork on the engine cover.

Team Lotus carry out a post race inspection on Grosjean’s car.

So that’s it for the off track displays. I wonder how they compare to what’s on offer at the European rounds? I guess we’ll have to find out one day…


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