Race To The City
In September 2017 an eclectic mix of vehicles and drivers turned heads as they blasted through city streets unannounced.
Running without lights and on slick tyres, three Formula One cars joined a Ducati superbike and a Brock-era Torana on a dash through the city traffic to Victoria Park racecourse, home of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival.
They were followed by camera crews who captured the action for a short film promoting the event. What started out as a simple idea for a TV commercial had become a clandestine street race that would be seen across the globe.
Benetton B186 - Cam Waters
The Benetton B186 was driven by Gerhard Berger in the 1986 Formula One season. Its BMW M12 engine put out around 1400hp in qualifying trim, making it the most powerful F1 engine ever raced.
Berger set the highest top speed for the season with 352kmh through the speed trap at Monza, but the chassis struggled to contain the engine’s lightswitch power delivery. The Benetton team worked to improve the handling all season, and Berger won the penultimate round of the season in Mexico.
This car competed at the Adelaide Grand Prix, but Berger was put out of the race by an engine failure.
Arrows A21 - Josh Kean
Mark Webber was a test driver for Arrows when this car was being developed, and it went on to be raced in the 2000 Formula One season by Jos Verstappen.
While it was consistently one of the fastest cars in a straight line, it was troubled by reliability issues, although Verstappen drove it to fourth place at Monza. It was notable for being a full-carbon car, including the tub, wishbones, brakes and even the gearbox casing.
The original trouble-prone Asiatech motor from this car has been replaced with the Hart V10 from the previous year, which makes 800hp at an incredible 18,000 rpm.
Footwork FA15 - Tim Slade
Christian Fittipaldi campaigned this Footwork FA15 in 1994, taking it to ninth place in the championship. Money was tight in the team, but the car performed well, taking fourth place at the Pacific Grand Prix in Japan. Fittipaldi was running in third place at Monaco before a gearbox failure prematurely ended his race. He placed eighth in this car at the Adelaide Grand Prix.
The Footwork was fragile early that year, but the team made strides towards greater reliability with the 3.5-litre Ford V8. Unfortunately, their efforts were undermined by changes to aerodynamic rules brought in following the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Monza.
This car is not currently in its 1994 livery, and is undergoing a restoration to return it to its former glory.
2015 Ducati Superbike Panigale R - Troy Bayliss
This Ducati Panigale R, as campaigned in the 2015 World Superbike Championship, is a modified version of Ducati’s roadgoing flagship sports bike.
Unlike MotoGP, the motorcycles in World Superbike racing must be based on production models. This machine’s 1198cc engine is good for more than 215hp, with a top speed in excess of 315kmh.
A9X SS Hatchback Torana - John Bowe
This A9X SS Hatchback Torana is one of just five cars built by the Holden Dealer Team in 1977. Peter Brock famously took the chequered flag at Bathurst in an A9X in 1978 and 79. This vehicle was used as a publicity vehicle for the team and never raced, although it was built to the same spec as the race cars, including engine, transmission, brakes, suspension and full roll cage.
It features the 1979 livery worn by the driver combination of Harvey and Harrop at Bathurst that year, all hand painted rather than the vinyl decals used today.
John Bowe is a two-time winner at the Bathurst 1000, and an Australian champion in open-wheelers, sports cars, and the Australian Touring Car Championship.
He has been involved in motorsport since he started racing Formula Vee in 1971 and retired in 2007, having set the record for the most championship race starts with his 213th race. His retirement was short-lived – he returned to sports car racing in 2008, and joined the Touring Car Masters series in 2009. In 2014 he won the Bathurst 12-hour for the third time.
Cam Waters made history in 2011 as the youngest driver to compete in the Bathurst 1000, after winning a reality TV show to win a co-driving spot with Grant Denyer. The following year, he raced at Bathurst again as part of the youngest driver combination in the race’s history.
He came to touring cars after impressing in karts and open-wheelers, and in 2016 scored a drive in the Supercars series, taking pole position and fourth place at Bathurst. This year he claimed his first Supercars win, taking out the Sandown 500.
Tim Slade won in his first race at a national level, when he made a one-off appearance in the penultimate race of the 2004 Australian Formula 3 Championship. After a couple of years racing open-wheelers, he made the move to the V8 Supercars development series in 2007 and graduated to V8 Supercars in 2009.
In 2016 he had his first Supercars win with a double at Winton. He finished in seventh place at the Bathurst 1000 last year, and is the two time outright winner of the 2016 and 2017 World Time Attack Challenge in a highly modified Nissan Silvia.
Josh Kean’s saloon car racing career got off to a flying start in 2012 when he finished third in his first round at Mallala. He went on to complete four state and six national rounds of the competition, finishing second overall in his first year.
The following year he moved to the second-tier V8 Supercar series, racing an ex-Walkinshaw Commodore. He moved to the Brad Jones Racing team in 2015, and finished 12th in the series last year before moving to the Prodrive Racing stable for 2017.
Troy Bayliss showed promise as a junior motocross racer, but didn’t seriously take up motorcycle racing until his late 20s, finishing runner-up in the Australian Supersport Championship in his first season. His big break came when he impressed as a wildcard at the Australian 250 Grand Prix on an underpowered Suzuki.
He joined the World Superbike Championship as a replacement for an injured Carl Fogarty in 2000, and went on to win the championship the following year. He went on to claim the title three times, with a career total of 52 wins, as well as scoring a MotoGP victory for Ducati in Valencia.
Directed and project managed by Adelaide Motorsport Festival event director Tim Possingham, this was an ambitiious project from the outset and would have been impossible without the enthusiasm and support of government and regulatory bodies, the film crew, drivers, vehicle owners and the dozens of volunteers from the Sporting Car Club of SA.
The Club has a very long thankyou list, including:
- The Government of South Australia
- The City of Adelaide
- The City of West Torrens
- Adelaide Airport
- The South Australian Tourism Commission
- South Australia Police
- Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure SA
- Confederation of Australian Motorsport
- Civil Aviation Safety Authority
- Adelaide BMW
- Our anonymous benefactor for the loan of the vehicles
- John Bowe, Troy Bayliss, Cam Waters, Tim Slade and Josh Kean
- Mark Soderstrom and Stuart O'Grady
- Rally One Pty Ltd
It would have been so easy to say no. Instead, these organisations embraced this audacious vision with enthusiasm, saying yes and providing support above and beyond what we could have hoped for, showing once again that Adelaide is a city where anything is possible.