Sydney Telstra 500 – 2009
My hobbies span across many things and with these days being so busy with various amounts of work it’s almost rare for me to enjoy such hobbies. With cars being one of my major hobbies it doesn’t see me enjoy it that often. However over the weekend, I enjoyed it to it’s greatest heights. Here in Australia, one of the most followed motor sports is known as the V8 Supercars, and with the weekend that past was the Sydney Telstra 500, a brand new circuit for the series held at Sydney Olympic Park. With me living relatively close to the venue, I decided to head out to my very first V8 Supercars event. Hit the jump to check out photos and read up on my day at the event.
The V8 Supercars is probably the only motorsport that I really follow as it was a series that I grew up with when I first became interested in cars. However over the years of following the series I had never attended one of the race events as I never really had the money, nor means of getting to such events. Majority of the races are held at circuits that are not easily accessible via public transport, and I didn’t want to drive to some of the circuits. However with the Sydney Telstra 500, that has completely changed. Held at Sydney Olympic Park, the same place that Supanova is held, it was easily accessible and that I practically live 10 minutes away from the venue.
Since I still have the Canon 50D I borrowed from my friend, I figured it’d be another good field test to see what the camera can do whilst out and about as well as when it comes to fast moving objects. So I bought myself a ticket for Sunday. The event itself spans over 3 days, Friday to Sunday, however I am at work on Friday and I had many other things to do on Saturday.
The ticket itself is a General Admission ticket which costs $70AUD plus booking fee on top. Later in the day I found out how limited this ticket was in which I could not gain access to certain areas which I’ll explain later. Still it was a reasonable price for a whole day.
So I left pretty early in the morning, like around 7:30am and upon arriving at the station to take a train to Olympic Park, there were many other fans who were eager to get there just as early. Many people decked out in clothing to support their favourite teams or their favourite manufacturer. Let me explain a bit on this. In the V8 Supercars there are two manufacturers: Ford and Holden (or General Motors for the Americans). You are a follower of either one or the other, and it is this rivalry that has spawned a culture amongst many Australians that spans back to even before I was born. Oh and if you ask me, I’m a Ford fan.
Upon entering the venue, I was welcomed to the sound of roaring engines speeding by me. At this point I was pretty happy and the young boy in me was jumping for joy. I’ve finally made it to a V8 Supercars event. Thus I went out and explored more to check out what other attractions there was available.
Alongside ANZ Stadium there were various tents each showcasing different things, and some are from the official V8 Supercars teams selling various merchandise. I myself picked up a Telstra 500 t-shirt as a way to commemorate my attending of the event. A lot of the other tents were from the various sponsors of the V8 Supercars showcasing their products etc. Also after finally acquiring a map of the circuit, I headed to the north section as there some cars on racing on the track already.
I spotted some grandstands and headed over, however to my disappointment I wasn’t allowed in. Reason? I didn’t have the right ticket. As I mentioned before, I only had a General Admission ticket and I needed a Grandstand Admission ticket. So yes a mistake on my part but it’s something I will remember for next time. So instead I headed off to the side of the grandstand to take a glimpse of what race was on then.
Although the event is called V8 Supercars, there are usually other races going on before the main race. In this case the first part was the Australian GT Championships Race 1 and after that it was the MINI Challenge Race 3. I must say watching the races in the flesh is so different to watching it on TV. On TV you don’t really get a feel for how fast these cars go around the track. For the GT race, I was at the 4th corner heading into a straight and seeing the GT cars bolting down was amazing. The roar of the engines, the loud popping of the backfiring happens all within the blink of an eye is enough to put a smile on my face.
For the MINI Challenge, I head towards the 1st corner as this is where most of the action happens in any race. it was also amazing to see how fast these cars can take corners and how precise the drivers have to be from taking the right racing line, entering the correct speeds, hitting the apex, and then exiting at the right speeds. Although these were Mini’s, they were still bloody fast. At this corner I could see that most had the read left wheel off the ground when turning in.
After wards I headed towards the Support Paddock. These are where the GT and Mini cars are parked and worked on between races, and thankfully this was open to the public. Here I got to see the cars close up and see some of the mechanics working on them.
With the Telstra 500 held at Olympic Park, there are a number of buildings that were used to showcase various cars owned by actual people. All varying from classics to modern, from stock cars to modified cars. Although a majority of them are muscle cars and I’m not a big fan on muscle cars, but I still do appreciate them.
In another building there was another showcase and here it was mainly the classics:
Soon enough it was nearly time for the final race for the Australian GT championship and I head back to the same corner I went to the first time. Throughout the park there were large screens set up so you wouldn’t miss any of the action, and as I was sitting down relaxing, on screen was Eric Bana. I was like HOLY SHIT IT’S ERIC BANA! Of course it makes sense for him to be here since he is also a race car driver. In the meantime it was the Fujitsu V8 Supercars racing around:
Just before the Australian GT race started, a fire crew was called out to the corner that I was watching from. With the Telstra 500 a street circuit, there are drains around everywhere that have some leaves in there. With some of the intense heat coming from the race cars it was enough to ignite a small fire. Its actually pretty amazing to see the quick response of the track crew to ensure the high safety standards of both the racers and the general public.
The best thing about being at the corner I was watching from for this race was cars coming out of the small chicane and just gunning it down the straight. Just hearing all that power screaming past was enough to send shivers down my spine. And with the backfiring added in it certainly gets some people jumpy. Once the race was over I decided to relax a bit as I had basically been standing for at least a good 5 hours. it was also kind of a shame to be there by myself as not a lot of my local friends are interested in cars, but I managed to cover a lot of ground. Heading back to the Support Paddock I figured I’d get a closer look at Eric Bana’s race car (it’s the blue Porsche above).
With the main V8 Supercars race a few hours away still I headed back to the carnival area and was surprised at the huge crowd turn out. Many of the attractions were packed with people but I still managed to get a good look around. Though I shouldn’t really find it too surprising with the large turn out due to it being a central and easily accessible location such as Sydney Olympic Park.
With the race 30 minutes away I headed over to Pit Straight to find a spot to watch the race. Pit Straight is the straight line from the start line coming upto the first corner. Speakers were set up around the circuit every 10 metres so you could hear the commentary throughout the race when there are no cars racing by.
Eventually I headed further down the track to the first corner. The first corner is where a lot of the mistakes happen and I’m glad I moved to see the action. I saw Garth Tander get taken out, both Jamie Wincup and Greg Murphy spin out as well. I think the most thrilling thing about being at this corner is seeing how fast these cars can take a 90 degree corner. On the straight they hit a top speed of 250km/h, and as they enter the corner they’re still going at 100km/h at least.
But by being at this part of the track also gave me the opportunity to experience the whole Ford vs Holden rivalry that I mentioned before. Sure I’ve seen the rivalry during my school days, but at the actual event its totally different. When Garth Tander retired after smashing his car, the Holden fans applauded him for his efforts, yet the Ford fans were giving him grief as he walked back to the Pits. The same happened the other way around. Craig Lowndes (a Ford driver) was given a black flag, the Holden fans were cheering. Still what is more amazing is that despite this whole rivalry, so many people can gather around and just enjoy a day at the races.
This being my first time to such an event, it was a thrill. The entire atmosphere of a race event is enough to make most people excited and I for one do hope I can attend again next year. Of course I’ve learnt a few things about attending these events and thus next time I’ll get grand stand tickets, even though they cost 3 times more than General Admission. Still lets also hope next year I won’t be heading alone.