The 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.
The 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.
Ten 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.
The Adelaide Motorsport Festival will not only celebrate the years of the Adelaide Grand Prix, but aims to highlight the rest of South Australia’s Formula One heritage. “Many people don’t know that we had Grands Prix at places like Victor Harbor, Nuriootpa, Port Wakefield, Mallalla before the well-known Australian GP in the Parklands,” event spokesman Tim Possingham said. “If people remember older events like Port Wakefield in the 50s, those cars will be there. We want to keep those memories alive. It’s amazing to ask someone, ‘do you realise there was an Australian Grand Prix between Victor and Port Elliot?’, and they’re like, ‘what?’.
“This is a celebration of motoring history.”
The five vehicles on display at the media afternoon provided an exciting sneak peak at what we can expect to see on the 13th. The white Benetton sponsored car is a 1985 Toleman TG185, and was raced in the 1985 Adelaide GP by Teo Fabi. It will be exciting to see this car lapping alongside the 1985 Beatrice Lola Hart, providing a mini recreation of the first time Adelaide was truly ‘alive’.
The crew had decided to start it up for the present media – a task taking three mechanics about 45mins to perform. This is a serious racing engine, and required a serious amount of fettling. For example, it can’t run cold so the team had to cycle the coolant through an external heating element to warm it up.
The car runs pure methanol which will dissolve the fuel system if left to sit, so the crew fill the fuel system with a two stroke mix for storage and transport. Before it is started the spark plugs are removed and the car cranked to pump the two stoke out so that it can be replaced with methanol, and the same process is completed at the end of the run to cycle two stroke mix back into it.
Eventually the crew got it started, and what an experience it was to hear, smell and feel it run. There’s not really an exhaust system so the burnt methanol pretty much exists straight out the back of the turbo. It’s going to be pretty special to see this thing running at speed, and an interesting nod to the turbocharged Formula One cars of 2014.
The headline cars of the event are obviously the Formula One’s, but the majority of the field will be made of other important sports and racing cars of the time. These were represented by Al Gosse’s XWGT Falcon historic race/tarmac rally car. Al brought it along to the recent Any Given Reason Burger Meet and it was by far the most masculine and thundering weapon in attendance, however there was no Cosworth DFX Indy Car parked next to it then.
The Adelaide Motorsport Festival is a completely new concept for Adelaide, and is shaping up to be something really unique. With a historic venue, the support of mainstream media and an experienced team, we’re in for a special treat come April.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
More information on the official Adelaide Motorsport Festival website