The Adelaide 500 turns 20 in 2018. The street-circuit event in the South Australian capital set a new standard for Supercars and established a template for marquee events that’s been repeated across the championship, as we examine in V8X Supercar Magazine issue #103.
Issue #103 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
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In 1985 Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone joked that Adelaide had ruined the premier open-wheel category, having set a standard that other grand prix venues would struggle to reach. In 1999 V8 Supercars’ equivalent Tony Cochrane could have made the same statement about the arrival of the Adelaide 500 on the shortened grand prix track.
It was more than a motor race; it was an entertainment event with stuff happening all over the precinct, with bands and the like pioneering the ‘race and rock’ combination in Australia. The organisation was first-class and the entertainment was at another level, but the killer punch was the track itself and the racing it produced.
The layout was a perfect combination, a series of right and left bends and a blindingly fast corner that started destroying cars and reputations. And then there was the format; twin 250km legs that formed one race only, well, at least in the scorebooks. All of it was topped off with a racing surface laid for the very best in the world and an organisation that set new standards.
It all pushed the drivers and teams. The cars needed to be stronger to deal with the pounding on the kerbs, the drivers needed to be fitter to deal with the recovery from Saturday to Sunday. Some races were fought in 40°C heat, other days in monsoonal rain, and it was all inside a concrete cavern that didn’t allow heat or fumes to escape.
It was gladiatorial; drivers were collapsing in cars, fatigued and making errors. And through it all we got some of the best racing we have ever seen.
It was a forerunner to modern Supercars in many ways. The winner of the event was the winner of the Sunday race, regardless of the points for the weekend, which was the way back then.
It fired the push for street tracks and government backing – Canberra, Homebush, Townsville, Gold Coast, Hamilton and now Newcastle.
Off the track, the Adelaide 500 was a well-oiled machine. The crowd and corporate facilities were matched only by the impressive growth of the grandstands. In every way you can measure it as a success and it remains the standard setter, no matter which event wins the Supercars award for ‘Best Event’.
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