AGP Demonstration

2020 Shannons Historic Demonstration at the AGP

2It’s well-known that the 2020 Rolex Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix was the first major event in Australia to be cancelled in the then escalating invasion that became the Coronavirus Pandemic. In fact, this was to be the 25th running of the event since it moved from Adelaide in 1996. But, fewer know that the historic demonstration took place on Thursday 12 March, and was so close to getting its Friday run before the event cancellation was announced.

The 60-car field always brings out some seldom seen cars of pur historic significane, and variety. From the 1920s to the 1980s in fact, under brilliant sunshine the group went out for there 15-minute demonstration.

On track was the MG TC Special  that Curly Bruden drove to second place in the 1953 AGP at this very circuit. It was actually the first car to cross the line that day, but a post-race protest dropped it to second. There remains much controversy to this day on that.

Covering off the F1 era of more recent times it was great to see back on the track the 1979 Williams FW07 in which Alan Jones one a string of Grands Prix in the 1980 season to claim the World Championship. Of particular interest this year for the turbo-charge era to follow was the sighting of the 1985 Toleman, campaigned that year by the Benneton team. This particular car did not have huge success and retired at the 1985 AGP on the streets of Adelaide. It is though a great example of the 1.5 litre turbo era.

Keeping with the mid-1980s, on track was also the ex. Vern Schuppan Porsche 956C, seen at the event in the ISEKI livery.

Two McLaren CanAm cars on track, the M1B of Laurie Bennett and the later developed M8E. The M8E is one of the big-block 8.4 litre motor has an awesome power to weight ratio. The motor is 800 BHP and it weighs just 750kg! At Phillip Island the week prior Hari Jones was seen lapping in the low 1 minute 30s. We spoke to his father, peter at the track and he advised that Hari said the car has much more in it, but there was nothing to prove by getting into the 20s!

The Bugatti marque dominated early Grand Prix racing, winning GPs such as Monaco on numerous occasions in the late 1920s and 1930s. represented on track this year were two T37 variants, one of which is a completely original and significant example of a Type 37A. The ‘A’ means it’s supercharged – adding huge performance to the 4-cylinder motor. This car belongs to Adam Berryman, but in period was owned and driven by the famous Louis Chiron.

Other cars on track included the Alfa Romeo 1750GS of Joe Riccardo, the ex. Jack Brabham MG TC of John Gillett, John Bowe in an ex Carroll Shelby Allard J2X and another ex. Carroll Shelby car, a Maserati 150S/250 of Andrew Cannon.

Whilst we did not see the spirited high-speed demonstration that day as the safety car remained out, that did allow for more time to appreciate the history as it rolled by. The following day was a different story. Press overnight that the McLaren F1 team had pulled out ultimately led to the entire event being cancelled at roughly 9:30am. The historic cars and their drivers all lined up on the old main straight, ready to go out when the news was breaking.

By Charles Rogers 30 May 2020