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27th September 2012, 1:05 at 1:05 am #210817
I grew up in Adelaide and discovered F1 in the early 70’s. There was no hope of being able to travel overseas to a grand prix but at least the races were being broadcast on TV, albeit during the wee hours of the morning. I justified the purchase of my first video recorder (very expensive back then) on the grounds that I would be able to tape the race and watch it later at a more civilised hour. Didn’t happen of course, it was much more exciting to watch it live.
So it was fantastic news when F1 came to Adelaide in 1985, because the Victoria Park circuit was just 400 metres from where I lived. How did I get to my first F1 race? Stepped out my front door and took a five minute stroll to the circuit gate.
I bought a ticket for a seat in the grandstand overlooking the chicane at the end of the pit straight. It proved to be one of the best places to watch the race because you could see the cars approaching for quite some time, then be up close to the near misses and carnage as cars attempted to squeeze through the chicane.
The attraction of that location was not lost on the organisers, because the next year it was taken over as a corporate stand for guests of the Australian GP organising committee. I did get back there a couple of years later, as one of those corporate guests through a link with the company I worked for.
Memories of that first F1 race? The first ever F1 car onto the Victoria Park circuit was 1980 world champion Alan Jones in (I think) a Team Hass car. As Jones was the last Australian WDC, the crowd went wild, as they say.
I remember also my first exposure to the noise of an F1 car – incredible music, yet so loud and truly painful without ear plugs.
In 1991 I competed in the Australia F1 Grand Prix Rally, an annual support event for sports and exotic cars which started in Melbourne and took in numerous driver skill events (circuit sprint, hill climb, etc) during a five day journey to Adeliade. I still have a laminated Australian F1 Grand Prix circuit pass with my name on it and the description “Competitor”. A special reminder of a time when Adelaide hosted some of the best grands prix.