July 2nd, 2004

Random Violin

Kings of the road

I'm heading out to Willowbank this Sunday to see the V8 Supercars. It's been a long, long time since I've attended a motor race - the last time I went out to a track, Peter Brock won the event with his co-driver Larry Perkins. Kevin Bartlett's Channel 9 Camaro turned turtle on the main straight, displaying its underbelly to the world for a few laps while a towtruck went out to retrieve it. This was in the days before the poncy safety cars got out on the track and stuffed a good race. Back when the V8s competed in Group C, and there were classes for smaller cars as well. What fun to watch a thumping big Commodore monstering a Gemini that was a bit too slow to get out of the way. Or a Toyota Corolla.
It was the last event at which the legendary Bruce Nowacki was crew chief for the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team. Shortly afterwards he suffered a stroke (age 34) and never returned to his former position. What a loss to the team - as Bill Tuckey wrote at the time, what that man didn't know about Holdens could be written in texta on the back of a matchbox. Trained by the even-more-legendary Harry Firth, Bruce knew every trick there was to presenting a winning - while technically legal - race car.
Standing in pit lane watching the pre-race activities, alongside Michael Stahl (most recently editor of Wheels magazine; at that time simply the son of Racing Car News Editor Max Stahl) who drooled over what he called the Penrith Pant-Pant-Pantherettes as they did their stuff on the grid. Michael had an alfasud named Graham, because it looked like his neighbour who had a harelip. Go figure.
It was hot, it was loud, it was grimy - it was fun.
My son's coming with me on Sunday. Nearly 21 and never been to see the V8s. Poor wasted childhood he had. I should be ashamed.
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