May 042008

As an advertising medium, it seems that V8 Supercar team transporters are setting new benchmarks. This massive machine, which transports Stone Brother’s Racing’s two car team, enough spares to build a third, meeting room and data analysis facilities around Australia has just undergone what may be the world’s largest vehicle wrap. The picture is stunning. Read all about the project here.

In other V8 Supercar news, it seems Garth Tander doesn’t want to see the Hamilton street race round become an endurance event, and why would he? After striking the formula for success a fortnight ago, why would a driver who started on poll and finished all three sprint races in the lead, want to alter a format which is very much to his liking? Hamilton’s round wasn’t without it’s problems though, which I alluded to. Street circuits come with all manner of attendant difficulties which a two race event, a-la Adelaide’s Clipsal 500, would go a long way in alleviating. The majority of Hamilton’s worries came from the start of each of the three races, and a tight track with virtually no-where to go when a situation goes pear-shaped. Three sets of problematic starting situations is a lot harder to deal with than a potential two. Clipsal bears this out. Certainly, the Adelaide season opener had safety car periods, but relatively speaking, not near as many as Hamilton. It’s interesting to note that VESCA Chief Executive, Wayne Cattach, is the one mooting a change for next year. A position, I’d suggest, that a majority of teams which didn’t have the dream run which Tander had, will punt for.
While we’re on the subject of Garth ‘my-shit-don’t-stink’ Tander, it seems he’s a bored monkey on those between race weekends. Poor Garth! He’s so devoid of imagination and the necessary where-with-all that he sits at home bored out of his scone. He wants to go racing in the Fujitsu Series between V8 Supercar rounds. Talk about gluttony. The Fujitsu Series is a development ground for young up and coming drivers, sponsored in the main by a few of the big name V8 Supercar teams. Come Bathurst time, we often see the big teams pull a Fujitsu driver into their ranks because they’ve performed well during the year in their own series. I’m all in agreement with Colin Sieders when he says:

“I don’t want a situation where I win a round where I finished fifth or sixth in each race. And if Rick Kelly and Jamie Whincup are taking each other out because that will take all the attention and no one will take any notice of the rest of us. On the other hand it would be good to race against those drivers if our championship didn’t depend on it. Maybe an endurance race or two where the main series drivers had a limited number of laps could work.”

The endurance rounds are where this mix-and-match racing ought to take place. Leave both series seperate, I say. One is a learning ground. The other is the pinnacle of motorsport in this country. It’s hard enough for a Fujitsu driver to cope with the big time when he/she makes the leap, as Tony D’Alberto has done this year, without the big name professional drivers doing their thing in the development series simply to relieve boredom.
Further on the big name drivers and just who buys their drive and who gets a go on the basis of skill and ability, I noticed this article on the V8 site. I don’t think there’s any doubt that punters of V8 Supercars get paid due recompense for literally laying their lives on the line every time the lights go out. What their respective contracted salaries are is up for debate, as there’s no information available in the public domain, however I’d suggest that Lowndes’ reported $2.55m per annum is well and truly out of the ball park. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the base salary component was close the the $1m mark, but remember that comes with all manner of contract stipulations about what the driver can and can’t do in their free time which might endanger their ability to race from round to round, as well as draws on their personal time for public appearances, product endorsements which don’t attract external payments and associated marketing of the sport, sponsor glad-handing and so on. Let’s be clear, these people are highly skilled professionals, not your average car park hoon in a hotted up junker doing donuts on a Saturday night out back of the pub. The cars they steer are expensive, purpose built race cars with enough horsepower to make the average car park hoon shit himself on take off. Their lives are quite literally on the edge every time they race. A reminder of this often neglected fact came at the beginning of this season with the death of Ashley Cooper in Adelaide in a crash which looked to all intents to be one he should have walked away from. Formula One drivers rate multi-million dollar remuneration for exactly the same reasons, yet there’s some ill-informed, hyped up hoo-hah in a Murdoch rag which is basically claiming similarly professional race drivers attract too much moolah. What a load of crap!
That’ll do ya for now. The latest announcements, whinges and gripes from the circus we call V8 Supercars. Next round is 9 May at Barbagallo Raceway, just south of Perth. Should be a good weekend. It usually is.

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