There aren't many places in the world you can get away with running three Formula One cars, a race-prepped superbike and a historic Touring Car through the city centre – let alone on a wet night, with stunned traffic and pedestrians looking on.
But that’s exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago in Adelaide, South Australia.
Home to one of the more celebrated F1 races in what some describe as 'the Golden Era of Formula One', the city now hosts an Australian take on the Goodwood Festival of Speed formula, dubbed the Adelaide Motorsport Festival.
“Race to the City” is a short promo for the festival. The five-minute film is very tongue-in-cheek, and mixes a bit of cheesiness with some great footage of classic racers running on (closed) public roads.
The drivers are three-time World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss, two-time Bathurst 1000 winner and motorsport legend John Bowe, as well as current Super 2 and V8 Supercars drivers Josh Kean, Cam Waters and Tim Slade.
The story is simple: the drivers fly to Adelaide for the Adelaide Motorsport Festival, before their chauffeur tells them he won't be able to accomodate them, and has organised some rental cars instead.
This is when the fun starts. The guys end up at Speeedy Car Rentals, where they're handed an F1 starter kit and told they have an upgraded 13,000 rpm rev limit on their cars, which are waiting in a carpark downstairs.
On opening the lift doors, the guys are presented with the following:
- A 2000 Arrows F1 A21, featuring a HART V10 Engine, full carbon tub, carbon wishbones, and a carbon gearbox casing. It was one of the first cars Mark Webber drove when testing for Arrows in 2000.
- A 1994 Arrows F1 car, raced by Christian Fittipaldi in Adelaide in 1994 – though the livery in the film is non-standard. It was one of the first cars of that period with a carbon tub and sequential gearbox.
- A 1986 Benetton F1 car, which had 1350hp in qualifying trim when Gerhard Berger piloted it in 1986. Running over 60 pounds of turbo boost, the car was detuned to a measly 900 hp for the film.
- A 1977 Holden A9X Torana, one of 4 “K” Code cars built that year. This car was developed to the spec raced by Peter Brock, Jim Richards, John Harvey and Ron Harrop in 1977-79. The car was a press/promo vehicle for the Holden Dealer Team, and had its livery changed annually until 1979.
- A 2015 Ducati Superbike. The bike was raced by Troy Bayliss in his final World Superbike season. Race bikes are relatively similar to production models, and are incredibly quick out of the box – as the film clearly demonstrates.
After suiting up, the drivers race toward the Motorsport Festival site, around 5 km from the airport in the heart of Adelaide.
Australian Olympic cyclist, Tour De France stage winner and Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady makes a cameo, stopping traffic when he hits a pedestrian crossing button.
It starts to rain at this point, and the cars enter the Adelaide CBD. Bayliss is frustrated behind Bowe's Torana, and turns off down a side street, only to find the restaurant and laneway precinct of Adelaide – forcing him to hop off and walk.
The pack regroups and they finally arrive at Victoria Park, the site of the old Adelaide GP.
Interestingly, the entire CBD scene was filmed without closing any roads. It was filmed with real traffic and pedestrians on nearby roads, but carefully coordinated with Central Traffic Control for a guaranteed run of green lights. Other traffic was held up or blocked from the pre-planned route. In a few areas you can see flashing lights, as there were approximately 12 police motorbikes on hand to help.
A team of nearly 50 officials was dropped on street corners just before the run to control cyclists and pedestrians, making sure no-one ended up walking into the path of a priceless F1 car as they scrolled through Instagram.
The high-speed elements were filmed on a public road, with a surplus of fire and medical personnel in attendance.
Director and Project Manager, Tim Possingham, gave us some insight into the project.
"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," he said.
"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 runs from December 7th
until the 10th
, with the Formula One element on track on December 9 and 10 in Victoria Park.
Photo Credit: Andrew Coles and David Karaduman.