It was just a normal day at Phillip Island for your correspondent from The Weekend Australian Motoring Confidential. There were millions of kamikaze and obviously deaf seagulls sunning themselves on the approach to Lukey Heights, Cape Barren geese eating themselves stupid by the side of the track, a few Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Audi RSs, Porsches, the odd Camaro GT3, Viper, classic 911, Formula Three and lots of Radicals piloted by middle-aged men indulging their fantasies to be discovered as a Formula One driver. Celebrity team manager and race driver Garth Walden had just flown in from Spa. His skin looked very clean.
Oh, and Smorgon boss Peter Edwards’s Bentley GT3 race car, pictured below, was big.
Now while Pete drives a normal Bentley around Melbourne, his twin turbo V8 racing version has lost 1000kg of not so ugly fat. Mr Bentley has made the doors, boot lid and bonnet out of fibreglass instead of heavy metal, carbon replaces wood, the double-glazed windows have disappeared and the driver’s seat has lost the leather. While the road version looks super, the race version looks crook. But it goes fast. When it goes.
Of course I wouldn’t say the cause could be in the rear main seals of the Audi supplied engine, but seeing a Bentley stop on the track is pretty sad for Wocka Bentley tragics like me.
It must be sadder for Pete, who is a serious driver. He won last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour in his trusty Ferrari 458 Italia, taking his tally across the past five years to two wins and 16 other podiums. The Australian GT Championship is full of fast exotics and that’s only drivers such as Arris Property Group boss Greg Taylor, red meat exporter Andrew Macpherson, real estate and movie house owner Andrew Taplin, and Porter Davis founder Danny Stutterd. With the price of racing V8 Supercars getting into F1 territory and the sport suffering identity issues a better promoted Australian GT series (although November’s race is in New Zealand) should be a winner for fans, sponsors and TV.
Unfortunately you won’t see Tasmanian GT legend Greg Crick in the series any more. The Launceston motor dealer has retired after 43 years racing. There’s nothing he hasn’t raced including a turbo Torana, Skyline, Sierra, Honda, the occasional Ferrari, Lambo, Mercedes and heaps of Holdens. Apart from everything else, all of us who drive on the track need to be thankful to Greg for putting carbon monoxide poisoning on the agenda.
Twelve years ago NASCAR moved on the problem after driver Richard Mast had to retire because of permanent damage caused by gases in the car. Greg had just helped the Erebus Motorsport Merc to a handy third in Bathurst last year when he felt sick, ended up in hospital and had a six-week recovery. In Australia only V8 Supercars have systems in place to prevent the problem of fumes in your helmet.
Also trying to scare birds at the island was James Calvert-Jones in his classic Porsche 911. Given Jimbo’s success it does raise the question why Virgin boss John Borghetti doesn’t get some of his classic Porkers out of his inner-city warehouse and on to the track.
Read the rest at The Australian