Due to being unable to photograph motorsport for a few months, I decided to write and publish weekly editorials. The first one came out on the 30th of July, and not one since. The reason? Having to wait only one day for the doctors to find a suitable heart donor, which left me in a sedated state for more than a week and a half. Now, the weekly editorials will now continue as planned until I'm completely on the mend. Remember to subscribe to the newsletter too so you don't miss out.
Whether you really enjoy music, movies, sports or cars, there will always be classic songs or automobiles that will define your taste. Of course, being a motorsport fanatic, the same goes for bonkers racing moments that I am sure will never be forgotten by me. Here is a list of ten: Click on the titles to watch them on Youtube
“He’s hit the fence!”
“They’re both in the fence!”
“They’re all in the fence!”
Some moments in motorsport are such classics that all you need to do is quote the commentary, and fans will know exactly what you’re talking about. Mark Skaife’s and Matt White’s words as the three championship protagonists came through Turn 5 in the second last race of the season, held at Sydney Olympic Park is exactly that. Rain became a threat late in the race, however to only parts of the circuit, meaning the drivers would risk driving on the slick tyre for as long as possible. After a safety car due to Russell Ingall getting stuck in the tyre barrier, the field would be bunched up. As they headed to Turn 1, Jamie Whincup, Mark Winterbottom and James Courtney, the three drivers fighting for the championship would lead the field. The lack of grip became apparent at Turn 5, where the race exploded into chaos. The top teams rushed to fix the broken cars and score any points they could. Through all of this, Jonathon Webb, in his first full time season in V8 Supercars would survive and score his first victory. The championship fight would head into the final race on Sunday, but very few remember that race.
In 2011, my Dad and I travelled to Indianapolis for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. As a tiny 9-year-old, the sheer size of the Speedway was what impressed me the most. From Turn 1, all you could see were packed grandstands from one end to the other. The atmosphere of the days before the race, right until the final celebrations had ended was like nothing else. This was more than just a race, this was a month of celebrations and anticipation for what they called ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’. On Lap 157, Ryan Briscoe and Townsend Bell would tangle into Turn 1, bringing out the caution. A handful of drivers would pit, hoping to make it to the end, including JR Hildebrand and Dario Franchitti. Franchitti would be hoping for another caution to be able to go to the end without having to pit for more fuel, whilst Hildebrand would save fuel early in the stint in an attempt to go all the way, even if there was another caution. Many others however would pit with 21 laps to go but would have to push all the way to get to the front. It would be 20 laps of tension. Nobody could predict who would win or who would run out of fuel. If you don’t know the result of this infamous race, I suggest you watch the final 20 laps if you have time, just for a larger context. But above is just the final 5 laps. Either way, you won’t forget how it ends in a hurry.
As the cars drove around for the formation lap, there were plenty of questions being thrown around for Race 8 of the 2011 V8 Supercars championship. Could anyone beat Whincup? What could Bright do from the front row? How would teams and drivers manage the softer compound of tyre? And what action would we see at the busy turn 1? As the red light went out, Whincup and Bright got an even start. Behind, Alex Davidson rocketed off the line from fourth, diving to the inside to make a move at Turn 1. But the question of what would happen at Turn 1 was forgotten. All eyes became fixated on the seventh row of the grid. What would be a shock to everyone, the rear of Karl Reindler’s car lifted off the ground and exploded in a fireball. He had stalled on the grid, and Steve Owen had arrived on the scene with nowhere to go. This would mark many changes in the regulations, particularly with fuel cells being moved forward and made safer. And no one who was watching that day will ever forget it.
My first memory of NASCAR was the final laps of the 2009 Coke Zero400 at Daytona. I didn’t know any of the drivers and teams, and at the time had no real basic knowledge of NASCAR. However, the final lap crash would always be in my mind, a motorsport moment I would never forget. Luckily, I recently found the actual race details on Instagram, which means I can share it with you. It introduced me to the polarising way of racing in NASCAR. Rubbing is racing, and drivers will literally take out or be taken out by rivals in order to win the race. Contact is not only tolerated but, in some cases, encouraged, so that fact left quite an impression on me, and this race was the first example I witnessed.
Not only was this a crazy race from start to finish, with plenty of drama, but it had one of the greatest closures to a race ever. Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen, the two front runners of the day were both taken out of the race late as they both became victims of the endurance. On the other end of the spectrum, Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell would start from 23rd and charge through the field, recover from a spin and charge to the front again. Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris would start dead last, would stick it into the Turn 2 tyre barriers, but would be there in the end to do battle. After one last safety car, the two other contenders Lowndes and Winterbottom tangled at Turn 1, leaving it to Whincup and Mostert to battle it out. Mostert had enough fuel to go to the end, whilst Whincup was being told to save, although it seemed futile. What eventuates is a heart-in-mouth final set of laps. The commentary has already become a classic, yet it was also informative, stirring in the heat of battle and definitive. The battle for Australia’s greatest motor race would come down to the wire.
After reading and being introduced to the sport of drifting via Speedhunters.com, I began to vaguely follow the Formula Drift series in the US. One event I remember watching attentively was Round 3 of the championship at Road Atlanta. Seeing many of close battles and insane driving and smoke shows, and an eventual first-time winner, it certainly influenced me to go try and photograph drifting the next year. The video above is a medley of all Kristaps Blušs' winning runs, defeating the heavyweights of James Deane, Piotr Więcek and eventually Fredric Aasbø. As he was declared the winner, he climbed atop his mental carbon fibre BMW M3 E92, punching the air in relief. After climbing down from the top of his car, he relaxes yet heaves a cry. ‘F***ing finally!”. Yep, that sums it up perfectly!
This wasn’t a race I watched live, but one that my Dad showed me later. Being an Aussie, I’ve always supported the Australian in a particular series and in NASCAR, Marcos Ambrose was that Australian. Not only did he win this race, but in spectacular fashion against the likes of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It would be a battle until the final corner, with some of the most ragged-edge driving I’ve ever seen. Ambrose and Keselowski ran on the fine tightrope of grip, making for one of the greatest finishes in NASCAR’s recent history.
The first round of the 2019 VicDrift Championship would be not only my first introduction to grassroots drifting, but also my first event holding media credentials. With a lineup of 61 cars attempting to make the Top 32, plenty of awesome cars and brilliant drivers, it was impossible for me not to get hooked. The battles at night were down to the wire with drama and dust and smoke being thrown in all directions. Above is a video by Racing Line Australia, documenting Dale Campaign’s victory that night. If you look closely, you can see a dorky me, camera in hand, wearing a hoodie with backpack constantly strapped to my back.
A season long battle between Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin would be decided in Newcastle, with two races to go. McLaughlin would win from pole in the Saturday race, meaning if Whincup won the race on Sunday, McLaughlin would only have to finish 11th to secure the title. Grabbing pole for the final race meant it was McLaughlin’s championship to lose. He already had one hand on the trophy. However, in the race, McLaughlin would get a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits and whilst coming back through the field, contact with Simona De Silvestro would give him another. At the restart, he was sandwiched and would end up being rear-ended. With the damage slowing down his car, he'd end up fighting for exactly 11th with a few laps to go. Triple 8 Racing however would have an ace up their sleeve. By pitting Lowndes late, he would charge through the field. If McLaughlin was overtaken by Lowndes, it would all be over. What eventuates cannot be scripted.
Watching your favourite driver literally destroy the competition is always awesome, but particularly when it comes out of nowhere. Ricciardo would be P6 for the majority of the race, however he wouldn’t finish there. After the two Toro Rossos collided at the hairpin, the safety car was deployed so marshals could clean up the debris. Bull would bring both their drivers in immediately, putting them on softer, grippier rubber for the final stint. As Ricciardo would finesse his way up the field, each overtake being better than the previous, Verstappen would show impatience and would eventually bulldoze Vettel at the hairpin. With a ten second penalty, he was out of contention for the race win despite having fast, fresh tyres. Lap after lap Ricciardo would bring himself closer to the front, and with a ballsy late lunge on Valterri Bottas, he would take the lead, demonstrating an overtaking masterclass.