SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK I PUT IN an interesting and very enjoyable weekend at the Sydney Motorsports Park meeting early last month.
Through my good mate Hammo at Sinclair Ford I met Scott Reed, a lovely bloke who owns a very interesting car, the Mestengo Trans Am Mustang. The long and short of it is that I got to sample the sports sedan action behind the wheel of Scottís Trans Am.
Once on board my first impressions were that itís very American (left-hand drive of course) and for a big car the driverís cockpit space was quite narrow and confined and you sit way back from the windscreen. It felt a bit like being in a submarine (Iím totally guessing there Ė never been in one). Once you got going, though, you didnít notice it and the driving position was just right.
It has a really nice engine.
Plenty of performance on tap. I had a blast with some terrific on-track battles with good drivers in some very cleverly engineered cars. No paint blemishes, just close racing. Iím quite a fan of the sports sedan class and its professionalism.
The Trans Amís handling is still a work in progress though, with the car having only had one race outing prior to that weekend. The Peter Doulman Automotive guys did some great work preparing the car and making some changes for me. In the end getting the right handling balance eluded us during the meeting Ė there was still too much understeer for me to carry the kind of corner speed I wanted. That could be all sorted with track testing time away from the pressures of an actual race meeting. Iím grateful for the excellent work that Dave Kelly and Simon Copping did on the car in challenging circumstances. It was a bit rude though, that Simon, also competing in the class, insisted on beating me in the races. Whereís the respect these days?
Thanks to everyone for a great weekend and congratulations to Jack Perkins on his usual classy performance in John Gourlayís Audi Chev.
FORMULA 5000-STYLE COMPETITION IíM PRETTY excited that Australian motorsport fans could once again be enjoying fast and furious Formula 5000-style action at circuits around the country. This development will be terrific for Australian motorsport. While the attraction of some open-wheel classes is lost on some fans, these big horsepower, bellowing-V8 racers, with big tyres and minimal reliance on ground effects, reach out to all motorsport fans. Iím happy to say Iíve had a small role in getting my friends John McMellan and Chris Lambden, the good people behind what were two competing groups, to sit down together to discuss a joint approach to assembling everything thatís needed to make Formula 5000-style racing a reality, perhaps as early as the second half of 2018.
Although Iíve spent the last 30-odd years racing cars with roofs, Iím still an openwheeler racer at heart. I learned my motor racing craft in open-wheelers, competing in a number of classes, including an exciting stint in Formula 5000, driving the mighty Ansett Elfin MR8. So, yes, Iím totally behind the return of the 5000s.
To underline my love for open wheelers Iím happy to admit that of all the lovely cars I get to drive these days, my mate Joe Callejaís March 741 Formula 1 car is my absolute favourite.