PERHAPS IT’S that members of the Professor’s golf club circle prefer driving with a wood, or it may be that they see the reported $50 million our state government is handing the Grand Prix’s Bernie Ecclestone as being overly generous. Whatever the reason, if chatter at the 19th hole is any guide, the big, loud race could be transferred quite easily to another city without a peep of protest. It is an entirely subjective reading of the public mood, based on just that tiny sampling of opinion, but as race day draws near it does foster the hope that the annual ordeal may not disturb life beside Port Phillip for very much longer.
Some people quite enjoy Formula One, decent people, too. Tim Blair, for one, gets very excited at this time of year, and you would be hard pressed to find a more solid citizen than he. And even the Professor can see at least one good thing about taxpayer dollars underwriting a private circus. Despite its other faults, the Grand Prix does a superb job of unfuriating the well-heeled luvvies who infest nearby Albert Park, and anything that gets their organic cotton underpants in a twist cannot be all bad.
But for the most part the race is loathed at the Billabong, first for the waste of public monies but most especially because it is boring. Ugly, impractical cars going around and around in pointless circles, seldom crashing or even passing each other – for fun like that, why not place a kilo of mincemeat on the table and watch it rot? It would be a cheaper, just as entertaining and a lot quieter.
For some real driving, motorsport at its best, settle down and watch the clips below? They showcase the extraordinary talents of privateer Geoff Portman, and does he give his Escort a caning! Shot at last year’s Alpine Rally, the first clip is just a teaser – a little taste for the uninitiated of what rallying is all about. But the second is a classic.
Now watch a master at work. Remember, Portman is hitting speeds of up to 150kph on a dirt track just a few metres wide. And please notice those dark, vertical things on either edge of the screen. They are trees, and hitting one at those speeds can be very messy.
Oh, and one other thing. Don’t miss the chatter (language alert!) toward the end, when Portman informs navigator Ross Runnalls of a minor mechanical problem: He has just completed the section -- at an average speed in excess of 90kph, no less -- in a vehicle with no rear brakes!
Fantastic driving. And almost as good, it did not cost Victoria’s taxpayers a cent.