CIRCUITS: ADELAIDE

Name: Adelaide

The State Capital of South Australia, was always seen as rather a dull place in comparison to Sydney and Melbourne and in the early 1980s a businessman called Bill O'Gorman came up with the idea of hosting a Formula 1 race to try to do something to improve the image of the city. He found some political support for the idea from South Australia's Premier John Bannon and flew to London to do a deal with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. The result was a seven-year contract, starting in 1985. Dr. Mal Hemmerling, a senior civil servant, was put in charge and the necessary laws were changed to allow a race to take place. It was decided to build the circuit incorporating one of the city's parks and the high-speed Dequetteville Terrace. The track was centered on the Victoria Park Racecourse and a new section of road had to be laid to cross the racecourse in two places. This meant that the pit buildings (a temporary structure) could be built without too much disruption each year.

The teams soon found Adelaide to be a friendly place, helped by the fact that the first race was an end-of-season event after the World Championship had been settled. It established the tradition of Adelaide being a big party.

The first race, held in 1985, resulted in victory for Keke Rosberg but the second was a remarkable World Championship showdown between Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost in 1986 which resulted in Mansell's hopes exploding when a tire blew on Brabham Straight and the championship outsider Prost scored an amazing victory to snatch the title. In 1987 Gerhard Berger ran away to victory for Ferrari.

Although the weather was usually good, there were several wet races, notably in 1989 when Thierry Boutsen won in his Williams-Renault and in 1991 when the race was washed out by rain and had to be stopped after 14 laps with Ayrton Senna winning but second and third placed runners Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger both having spun off. In 1992 Gerhard Berger won again when Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell collided and the following year Senna scored a majestic victory with an outpaced McLaren-Ford. It was to be his last race win and no-one will forget the post-race concert at which Tina Turner sang Simply the Bestfor Senna.

There was high emotion in Adelaide at the end of 1994 when Michael Schumacher drove Damon Hill off the road to stop the British driver winning the 1994 World Championship. Victory that day went to Nigel Mansell, his last F1 triumph.

In 1995 Mika Hakkinen nearly died when he crashed heavily in practice but he was saved by alert doctors on the scene. The race was won by Hill but by then it was clear that Melbourne had outbid Adelaide for the Australian GP. The new government of South Australia sold its equipment to Melbourne but by 1998 it was clear that the city was missing the race and a big touring car race was held on a modified version of the old circuit.

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