~ Matthew White on Hot, Competitive racing
Australians love two things: drinking and driving. No Australian can think of a better way to spend a long weekend than having a few drinks, driving 500 kilometres to a racetrack somewhere out in the bush, drinking a slabfull of beer, watching some other blokes driving around for a bit, having a few more beers, trying to create the biggest groundpizza of the day or seeing if they can projectile vomit onto the track (extra points awarded for hitting a car or double points for getting it through the side window of the car) and then driving 500 miles back home to the dunnydoor.
This is where V8 Supercars racing comes in. Alcohol fumes meet petrol fumes (The petrol is now alcohol, talk about drink driving!) in a dead-set, true-blue, green-and-gold, no-beg-pardons, if-you-don't-mind-umpire stoush between Ford and Holden.
All Australians are required by law to pick a side, though most find that their parents picked one for them at birth, long before they were christened and about the same time as they were put on the waiting list for membership of the Melbourne Cricket Club. Holden fans waggishly suggest that Ford stands for "Found on Rubbish Dumps", "Fixed or Repaired Daily", "Fucked on Race Day" and when reversed, it can stand for "Driver Returns on Foot", while Ford fans waggishly assert that Holden stands for "Holes, Oil Leaks, Dents and Engine Noise", "Hold On, Low Down Engine Noise" and "Hope Our Luck Doesn't End Now". They both had to collectively pitch in to ban the Skyline GT-R's in the early 90's because Holden and Ford knew they would never beat one on the track with such crap cars.
The beauty of V8 Supercars is that anyone can win, even the Indian taxi driver that Ford hired in their top team wannabe car, or the Asian dude from the Wiggles, driving the Big Red Car for Holden Racing Team. But one thing these series would want is the fact that passing happens often. Often you see guys start at the back of the grid and then finish first, this means that either the driver is very good (at taking shortcuts) or his competition sucks (Morris and Dumbrell often help out by clearing unwanted garbage at times).
Kings of the Mountain
The highlight of the V8 season is always the James Hardie Asbestos 1000 at the sacred Viking burial mound of Mount Panorama, near Bathurst. An average of 1,000,000 spectators turn up to have a drink, so technically the cars can run on the alcohol exhaled by the crowd, but few teams like to do this as the lumps of carrot in the vomit can cause fuel-line blockages. Ugly, but hey, it's organic!
Drivers get together, some local and some internationally, just so the Aussies can laugh at their crummy driving skills. It's always good fun to see a punch up between father and son, Aussies and Kiwis and teammates alike! Just don't forget to bring your balaclava, otherwise you'll be getting Greg Murphy in your face.
Bathurst weekend is without a doubt the most important date on the Australian sporting calendar (AFL Grand Final, NRL Grand Final, Melbourne Cup, Australian Open tennis, Formula One Grand Prix, Boxing Day Test, Tri-nations rugby, and Anzac Day two-up). It is also the one event that enables foreign visitors to see contemporary Australian culture at its most drunk.
The origins of Ford vs. Holden
In order to be taken seriously by the rest of the world, it is generally accepted that a nation needs to have a serious ethnic dispute of its own, a national wet t-shirt competition, or its very own nuclear arsenal. Aside from a minor rivalry with New Zealand (but they don't count as no-one takes them seriously, anyway), Australia has none of these. A national government enquiry into this found that creating a rivalry would be the best way forward, and so the Ford vs. Holden wars were created. Like England and Ireland, America and Canada, France and pretty much any other nation you could care to name, the creation of the Ford vs. Holden rivalry presented Australia with a simple problem: you're either red or you're blue, and there's no two ways about it.
The creation of this rivalry offered a multitude of possibilities, a term no Australian actually understood, and so everything degenerated into a Cold War mentality. Both sides of the conflict spent more and more on building faster and better cars and kept trying to find out what the other side was doing at the same time as they struggled to stop the other side from doing the same to them. This trend continued into the driver market, with respective sides stealing drivers away from one car to race another. At one point, all the Ford drivers were racing in Holdens and all the Holden drivers were in Fords, therefore all driver's are purple.
Making it fun
To keep things interesting, V8 Supercar organisers and Australian Correctional Facilities make a point of participating in the race proper by placing obstacles such as cardboard boxes (some which contain convicted homeless drug addicts), washing machines, fridges, TV's, various Toyota vehicles, Mitsubishi Sigmas, truck tyres, convicted rapists (tied to the road), plastic bags (known to make Falcons blow up), koalas, wallabies and dead kangaroos on the track to make a slalom course (which turns out to be a destruction derby). It is then up to the drivers to take the punt on whether the boxes are empty and they can plough through them Jackie Chan-style (pictured right), or whether that innocuous-looking pile of cardboard actually contains a prisoner or even worse the old engine block out of Grandpa's clapped-out Toyota Corona.
Other animals and objects commonly placed on the track for a bit of a laugh include wombats (those little bastards can knock your sump cover right up into your crankshaft), emus, tires, ball joints, old clothes, mattresses, old sofas, dead bodies, soccer balls, ball bearings, beer kegs, speed cameras, retired police cars, road signs, traffic ligths, speed limit signs, old Holden V8 motors, broken down Mitsubishi Magnas and the classic favourite; TAC Advertising signs that say "speed kills" or "drink and drive, bloody idiots".
Most V8 Supercar drivers have their windscreen and driver's-side window covered in chicken wire to keep the beer bottles out. Some Falcons even have a big Kenworth bullbar up front. In recent years, advances in digital camera technology have enabled drivers to make a note of who's been throwing stuff at them, so that when they've finished necking the Moet on the podium they can fling the empty bottle at the bastard. Most Bathurst holiday packages include insurance that covers driver-inflicted magnum trauma.
Occasionally a rock will be thrown out onto the track mid race. This is referred to as the mid race chicane and is designed to test the driver skill. One year, Dick Johnson (from Team Big Dick) was caught out by this and his Ford Telstar was not up to the beating endured and subsequently exploded. This resulted in a manipulation of the Australian public by breaking down in tears on national television and guilting the public into giving him money to buy a stronger car, a 1976 Holden Kingswood with a big-assed MACK bullbar, to contest the James Hardie Asbestos 1000 the next year. Too bad for him that Brockie won it anyway. Bloody Toranas. At least he won the championship, but who really cares about those?
There are 13 rounds in the season. Every part of Australia is covered except the ACT, which John Howard complained about because he couldn't hold his meetings as everyone was too interested in seeing a whale win a race. It would've been cheaper to race in the middle of Australia, but Mr Cocharine wanted global appeal, so yeah. We used to go to China, but that was before the crappy track conditions nearly killed all the Kiwi drivers. We may go to Singapore to support the F1s, because the V8s make boring tracks interesting with morons crashing into each other, fat fucks going at the speed of sound, night race appeal (they have headlights!) and surprisingly, passing, something that F1 lacks.
An interesting thing to note is that every track is somehow involved to F1. Who ever said that the V8's weren't ripping off the FIA? Apparantly the circuit owners wanted the V8s to come here, but we suspect the big boss have been doing some big favours to get them.
|1. Clip All 500||South Australia|
|2. Walkin' - the Tazmanian Devil Challenge 400||Tasmania|
|3. International Tree Monsters 400||New Zealand|
|4. Aye Laddie Perth Challenge||Western Australia|
|5. Big Bird's Island||Victoria|
|6. Triple Crowned 400||Northern Territories|
|7. Suck Balls 400||Queen's Land|
|8. Lips Witch 400||Queen's Land|
|9. Sidney's Motorsport Funland||New South Wales|
|10. Lots of Sand 500||Victoria|
|11. James Hardie Asbestos 1000||New South Wales|
|12. The GC 600||Queen's Land|
|13. Yes Island, No Marina 400||ABU DHABI!!!!|
|14. Win A Ton (of Bricks)||Victoria|
|15. Sidney's George Bush Funland||New South Wales|
In late 2011 the Australian Military published their paper 'Controling the population section 19', also known as the '2020 V8 Supercar Calendar'. To build up anticipation for coming seasons 9and to distract the population from the Australian military's other activities...) the calendars for the interviening seasons have not been announced, with a reward of getting to wave the chequered flag at the first race of the 2020 season to the first person who succeeds in guessing correctly the calendars for said interviening seasons. The second person to guess all of these correctly will be shot for cheating and copying the first person to guesses answers.
|1. Clip All 700 (extended Adelaide Pond Circuit)||South Australia|
|2. Melbourne to Sydney 800||Victoria, New South Wales|
|3. Ye Laddie 500||Perth (the Scottish one)|
|4. The Jungle 1000||Papua New Guinea|
|5. Melbourne-Hobart Amphibious V8 Race||The Ocean|
|6. Dalai Lama 600||Tibet|
|7. The Race to Climb Mount Everest||Nepal|
|8. Apollo 11 Landing Site 500||The Moon|
|9. Big Ben 400||London, England|
|10. All Around Tassie 5000||Tasmania|
|11. Crash Into Everyone 1000 (A US Freeway)||United States|
|12. Race Around Some Islands 6000||Indonesia|
|13. Race Around Explosions 800 (Secret Missile Launching Site)||100 Desert Road, Reno, Nevada|
|14. Fake Bathurst||Canada|
|15. The Paperless Clip 400||Victoria|
|16. Ski Jumps and Crashes in SNOW!! 350||Finland|
|17. Be Careful of Martians 4000||Mars|
The day that Mel Gibson got completely rooted by a stray 'roo
One of the most memorable moments in Bathurst history was the 1978 race, when the supercharged Betty Ford Clinic Ford Falcon XB Hardtop Interceptor piloted by local heroes "Mad" Max Rockatansky and Mel Gibson was knocked out of contention after the young Gibson hit a track-record 27 kangaroos on Conrod Straight on lap 52. Gibson and Rockatansky were two laps in front of second-placed Peter Brock in the Wiggles Big Red Car (Holden Torana) at the time.
The marsupial femur that penetrated the two-door Falcon's radiator at a closing speed of 314km/h was like a knife through the heart of Gibson's and Rockatansky's dreams of victory and unspeakable debauchery with a bevy of lycra-clad grid girls. The event was later fictionalised in the movie Mad Max, which starred Gibson as Max Rockatansky and Jack Thompson as Gibson. Mad Max 2 later told the story of their attempt the following year at the Cannonball Run from Adelaide to Darwin, while Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was a documentary about Tina Turner's recording of the V8 Supercars theme song Simply the Best at the K-Mart Tyre and Auto Service at Calder Park, north of Melbourne.
The V8 Supercar's place in Australian culture
Since Australia has no tribal or ethnic rivalries, apart from the Serbs, Croats, Italians, Greeks, Turks and Armenians getting stuck into each other at the soccer, the Lebanese and the rednecks getting stuck into each other on the beach, and the Vietnamese getting stuck into it at the nightclubs with anyone who fancies a bit, the country had to manufacture one.
After all, Australians love a bit of a stink, and if your best mate follows the same footy team as you, has the same sexual orientation as you, always buys his round and isn't rooting your missus, there's no real reason to give him a punch in the gob. Luckily, with V8 Supercars, there's a 50 per cent chance that he bats for the other team (or so to speak), so you can feel perfectly justified in giving him a smack in the chops on the first weekend of October.
In the artsy-fartsy arena, V8 Supercars have also proved a durable hit. The original V8 Supercars movie (which Sony Pictures released in foreign markets as TOCA Race Car Driver) starred Russell Crowe as a young Mel Gibson, while the ageing Mel Gibson reprised his role as "Mad" Max Rockatansky and Kylie Minogue and Germaine Greer made cameos as sexually promiscuous, lycra-clad grid girls. In Australia, the film made more money than E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark and Crocodile Dundee put together.
V8 Supercars 2 (aka TOCA Race Car Driver 2) starred a young Hugh Jackman as Russell Crowe and an ageing Russell Crowe as Mel Gibson, while Guy Sebastian played Tina Turner and Dannii Minogue and John Brumby made cameos as sexually promiscuous, lycra-clad grid girls. It made more than A.I., Tomb Raider and Crocodile Dundee 2 put together.
V8 Supercars 3 (aka TOCA Race Car Driver 3) starred a feeble Peter Allen as a young Hugh Jackman, an ageing Mel Gibson as a young Russell Crowe and a doddery Tina Turner as a young Guy Sebastian, while Nicole Kidman and Clive James made cameos as sexually promiscuous, lycra-clad grid girls. The film made more than MIB, MIIB, Halo 2 and Titanic put together. Who says Australian cinema is formulaic and predictable?
V8 Supercars 4 (aka TOCA Race Car Driver 3 2.0) is rumoured to star Ernie Dingo as an aging Pauline Hanson, an aging Mel Gibson as Steve Irwin,Heath Ledger as Ronald McDonald, while Dame Edna Everage and Jackie O weaving will make cameos as sexually promiscuous, lycra-clad grid girls. The film will be more than Rocky Balboa, Crocodile Dundee , Crocodile Dundee 2 and Crocodile Dundee 3 all multiplied together. See, we used a different formula.
V8 Supercars in literature
Several notable books have been written about V8 Supercars, the most notable of which is We're Not Making That Stupid Peter Brock Crystal Car Anymore (1996 press release) by Holden, although it's position of highest notability is easily rivalled by How to throw everything away by going to a crap team, written by Craig Lowndes.
Brad Jones' Getting it done on your back, is considered to be essential reading, while Wayne Gardner's classic I Should Have Stuck to Motorbikes acts as a fantastic complement to How to throw everything away by going to a crap team on the trials of being a V8 Supercar driver.
Cenovis Vitamins Pty Ltd Annual Report 1996 is Alan Moffat's well known guide to the financial situation V8 Supercar creates in Australia, although many argue that Dick Johnson's Have you, have you, have you, have you driven a Ford... lately? is superior.
OK, OK, We just lied about all that. The only books that are at all worth reading about V8 Supercars are Meat Pies, Kangaroos and VB Commodores by Mark Skaife and Dirty Dangerous Dude's Getting dirty on the racetrack.
Happy now? Happy? ARE YOU BLEEDING HAPPY NOW YOU FRENCH TWAT?!