It was back to the future at Barbagallo Raceway March 2/3 as fans braved the heat to celebrate the Jubilee of Western Australia’s premier motor racing circuit.
Following a moderate WA summer, the early Autumn weather paid homage to the Competitors, their Crews, the Officials, and the crowds of families who flocked to Wanneroo for the festival of motorsport, hosted by the WA Sporting Car Club. The commentary was first rate. The bus rides around the circuit were hugely popular and a stroke of genius. The massive display of racing cars through the ages was seriously impressive. And simply wondrous.
It was the debut for the 2.4km track, resurfaced after 17 years, and the slick face of the new asphalt was quickly demonstrated, to the surprise a some of the newer drivers.
But the highlight for me was the chance to once again see the ’84 Chevy Alfetta GTV and its master, 10-time Australian Sports Sedan Champion Tony Ricciardello, in action It was something to behold. Unfortunately, the extreme heat caused Tony to withdraw mid race on Sunday, but not before the beast had claimed a new track record – an incredible 53.1secs!
Here’s an excerpt from my column in The West Australian in September, 2014:
“ONE of the most recognisable racing cars around the country is Tony Ricciardello’s bright red rocket Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV, capable of a scary 325km/h.
“It was quite a spectacle in my early days at Barbagallo Raceway to watch Ricciardello, pushed to the back of a reverse grid race in the popular NightMasters, weave his way through the tightly-packed field with fierce speed and extraordinary dexterity.
“The knowledge that the growling #5 B&M Ricciardello Chevy V8-powered Alfa was racing certainly dragged the fans through the gates and it was quite a buzz to see the youngster – a champion even then – at work in the cockpit. Could he power his demonic space frame constructed beast to the front before Turn 1?
” Invariably he achieved that feat, and it never took him more than a lap to take back control of the three-race event, run at the start and the finish of each WA season.”
The weekend festival of motorsport certainly rekindled memories of those heady days.
I do believe many of those who attended this past weekend, particular the loads of youngsters I saw thoroughly enjoying themselves in the bright sunshine, will continue to return to Barbagallo to follow what are always hard fought and often spectacular battles by exceptionally talented and dedicated racers.
My sincere thanks to all those motorsport clubs who foster the drivers and crews, and to WASCC president Russell Sewell, general manager Andrew Stachewicz and their teams. I do hope it’s the beginning of a safe and wonderful season and a bright future for a sport that requires far more participation than most.
And don’t forget the Virgin Australia Supercars under lights at Barbagallo Raceway, Friday and Saturday nights May 2/4. Let’s see if those pilots Supercars can beat Tony Ricciardello’s record!
EDITED by AC