A Blast from the Past

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Posted on May 6, 2020 Tags:

Back in the Day

The WA Sporting Car Club has a long and proud history of excellence from its dedicated band of Officials working tirelessly in the best interests of the sport and its participants.

One of those is Mike Flower, a longtime club stalwart who carried on the tradition. Today, Mike reflects on his early days with the Medical Response Team at Wanneroo Raceway.

“I’ll add a bit of insight to how we went about deploying the medical cars during my time – from 1993 until 2005 – which started after my racing days doing various roles in Race Control and on-track.

“In 1993 everything was very basic at state level and indeed national level, but ideas from F1 were filtering through of how motorsport medical was evolving.”

The inimitable Doctor Chester

“Dr Anne Chester was our chief medical officer in WA for many years and worked at many F1 events both in Adelaide and Melbourne, from the first Adelaide F1 in 1985 and onwards.

Members of the WASCC Medical Response Team, circa 2003, with Dr. Anne Chester and Mike Flower to her left.

“Anne always returned to Perth with a host of new ideas and was instrumental in introducing and showing to those of us in the WASCC what was being done at the highest level.

“In conjunction with CAMS and Supercars Race Director (and former F1 racer) Tim Schenken, all on-track interventions with medical, fire and recovery evolved over the years from those first times when Anne was a medical officer at the F1 event in Adelaide.

“This is the mindset with which we approached the deployment of our Medical cars at Wanneroo in the years 2003 – 2005.

Being Prepared is Paramount

“It was our view from 2003 onward at Wanneroo, that those many Officials involved needed to be well prepared and during the early mornings at Wanneroo – on either the Friday of Supercars or Saturday of a normal WASCC event we would deploy our medical cars to do simulations.

“Under the direction of Clerk of Course David Walker (yet another WASCC stalwart) the entire Race Control crew would have gained a grid map of the venue at Wanneroo, so all emergency response and on-track teams could understand exactly where a point of reference was via radio.

Members of the WASCC’s band of dedicated officials, at Wanneroo’s V8 Supercars round in the early 2000s.

The Legend of Alf Barbagallo

“In those years of 2003 – and before and after – Landrover Discoverys were made available by that enduring sponsor and supporter of the WASCC, Alf Barbagallo. Those vehicles were chosen for one reason – to be able to access areas of the Wanneroo track within the first line of defence (more commonly called the concrete wall)!

“Given Wanneroo has some vast sand trap runoffs, the ability of medical and other emergency to actually get to the scene was well understood then, as is now.

Circuit Hot: Lights and Sirens

“On the Friday morning of a V8Supercars event, with the circuit ‘hot’, Race Control would deploy the Medical Car with lights and sirens, to a hitherto unknown grid reference point. Race control would say, for example: ‘Victor 1, scramble to G4!’ – with a balanced voice, of course, depicting that the location of the incident was in Turn 1, driver’s right EG.

“The main reason for doing simulated deployments back then was to enable the crew on board not to suffer the most simple of things: fright.  

“And to be well prepared and be able, during the deployment to be calm and assess the scene to which they were about to tackle.

“And quite simply, to enable the medical car driver to drive the vehicle within the limits to do the job, without endangering anyone.

“Post 2005 and medical response at all levels of our sport is impeccable. Regards.”

Mike Flower

And that gives me an excuse to include this great clip from the 1986 F1 Australian Grand Prix at the classy Adelaide Street Circuit.

You can watch it on YouTube, courtesy of F1.com, by clicking on the “F1 Classic On Board” link below.

So, buckle up as we go onboard for a lap with British ace Johnny Dumfries (the 7th Marquess of Bute), driving for Lotus-Renault. It was one of the very first races in which a modern-style onboard camera was used (with its automatic water flusher to keep the lens clean)!  


When men were men, steering wheels just steered, transmissions were manual stick-shift, two analogue dials, and just a few buttons on the steering wheel.

And the sparks were caused by the driver’s balls of steel scraping the tarmac!


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