Confused locals look on as Formula 1 cars hit the streets of Adelaide.
There are not many places in the world these days where you can get away with running three F1 cars, a race-ready Superbike and a Historic Touring Car through the centre of a capital city … at night in the wet and with stunned traffic and pedestrians looking on to boot.
Well that’s exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago in Adelaide, South Australia. Home to what was one of the most awarded F1 races in what many argue was the Golden Era of Formula One, Adelaide now hosts a small version of what could best be described as the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Adelaide Motorsport Festival.
The “Race to the City” was conceived as a short film to promote the Adelaide Motorsport Festival. The five-minute film is very tongue in cheek and has just the right amount of cheesiness combined with some great footage of the cars flat out on what are normally public roads.
The drivers in the film are Australian motorsport identities and feature three times world superbike champion Troy Bayliss, two times Bathurst 1000 winner and Aussie Motorsport Legend John Bowe, as well as current Super 2 driver and V8 Supercars drivers Josh Kean, Cam Waters and Tim Slade.
The story is simple: the guys fly in to Adelaide and are voicing their enthusiasm for the upcoming Adelaide Motorsport Festival, held December 9-10, when the chauffeur that greets them tells them he can’t take them and has organised some rental cars for them.
This is when the fun starts as the guys end up at Speeedy Car Rentals, where they are given an F1 starter kit, told they have got an upgraded 13,000 rpm rev limit on their cars and that the cars are waiting in a carpark downstairs.
On opening of the lift doors, the guys are presented with the following transport:
2000 Arrows A21 ex-Jos Verstappen F1 car – Featuring HART V10 Engine, full carbon tub, carbon wishbones, carbon gearbox casing and all the fruit as raced in 2000. This car was one of the first cars Mark Webber drove when testing for Arrows in early 2000 we are also told. Driven by Super 2/ Prodrive Racing Australia Driver Josh Kean
1994 Arrows F1 car. This Cosworth DFR powered F1 car was raced by Christian Fittipaldi in Adelaide in 1994 and features in the film in non-original livery. It was one of the first carbon tubbed, sequential gearbox fitted cars of that era. Driven by Supercars / Brad Jones Racing driver Tim Slade
1986 Benetton F1 car. This car had 1350hp in qualifying trim back in 1986 when Gerhard Berger piloted it. Running over 60 pounds of turbo boost this car feels like it has been hit by a jet when the boost comes on and was detuned to about 900 hp for the film. Driven by Sandown 500 winner and Prodrive Racing Australia Supercars driver Cam Waters
1977 Holden A9X Torana. One of just 4 “K” Code cars made in that year which were special build cars. This car was factory built to the same specification as the cars raced by Peter Brock, Jim Richards, John Harvey and Ron Harrop in 1977-79. The car was a press car/promo car owned by the Holden Dealer Team and had the hand painted livery changed year on year until 1979. This car is completely original. Driven by John Bowe
2015 Ducati Superbike. This bike is a 2015 Ducati as raced by Troy Bayliss in his final year of World Championship Superbike Racing. Superbikes are relatively similar to production released superbikes and are incredibly quick out of the box as can be seen in the tunnel footage within the short film. Rider – Troy Bayliss
After suiting up, they race off towards their final destination, the Adelaide Motorsport Festival site some 5 km away in the heart of Adelaide City.
Australian Olympian Cyclist, Tour De France stage winner and Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady makes a cameo appearance when he stops traffic by pressing a pedestrian crossing button. At this point it starts to rain and the cars enter the central business district of Adelaide. Bayliss gets frustrated behind the Torana of John Bowe and turns off down a side street where he runs into the restaurant and laneway precinct of Adelaide and has to walk his bike through.
The pack regroups and they finally make it to Victoria Park, the site of the old Adelaide Grand Prix.
Some interesting behind the scenes information is that the entire central city scene was done without closing any roads at all. It was filmed with real traffic and pedestrians on nearby roads but carefully coordinated with Central Traffic Control such that the race cars had green lights all the way and that other traffic was held up or blocked out of the pre-planned route. In a few areas you can see some flashing lights as there were approximately 12 police motorbikes involved in the city run although they have been carefully edited out. A team of nearly 50 officials were dropped on street corners just before the run commenced to control cyclists and pedestrians for the brief minute or so whilst the cars went through each part of the route.
All the high-speed elements were filmed on a closed public road with a high level of fire and medical personnel in attendance, which is also hidden in the film.
Director and Project Manager Tim Possingham, who also happens to be the Event Director of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival gives us some insight.
“We really only had one shot at this, it’s not like we could keep running back and forth over the same piece of road, so everything had to be right. It had to be kept under wraps to a great degree as well so that we maintained complete control along with police and other regulatory bodies. Unfortunately, we lost all our forward-facing in-car footage when it rained halfway through the filming and one of the cars suffered a gearbox issue early in the piece, among other things. These cars are spectacular, but also very complex and cantankerous, which means that behind the scenes there are teams of mechanics with starter mechanisms, oil heaters, radiator air blowers and a myriad of other things to fire them up and keep them going. Needless to say, these cars don’t like stopping and starting, they are made to go flat out or nothing, pretty much. We are blessed to have a very cooperative department of planning, transport and infrastructure as well as an amazing team within the SA Police that helped facilitate the shoot, but the real hero is a personal friend that shares my passion for motorsport – it is he who gave up the cars from his private collection to have these drivers pilot millions of dollars of machinery in wet conditions, on slick tyres! None of this could happen without him, his faith and a common goal.”
The Adelaide Motorsport Festival is on from December 7th until the 10th, with the Formula One element on Track December 9-10 in Victoria Park, Adelaide.
Picture credit: Andrew Coles and David Karaduman.