Have you ever found yourself in a situation so strange that, just for an instant, you’ve been forced to take a quick reality check?
I remember asking myself ‘Is this real?’ as I sped through Adelaide’s CBD with a police escort, tethered and half hanging out of a convertible. That wasn’t the surreal part though; that’s just an average day for a Speedhunter, right? Maybe, but it was no match for the insanity that followed me through the busy city streets.
A procession of Formula 1 racers, classic tourers and an impressive entourage of the world’s most desirable cars were closely in tow. Excited city-dwellers lined the streets to cheer as eager drivers let their vehicles sing loudly, echoing through the concrete jungle.
Unlike most dreams that have no real beginning or end, this incredible situation was the result of unfathomable hours of planning. While I can’t claim to have had a hand in the proceedings, I can take you behind the scenes and give you a little insight into just some of the preparation required for this madness.Ladies And Gentlemen, Start Your Engines
As you can appreciate, shutting down a quarter of a city is kind of a big deal. Victoria Park may not have been open to the public yet, but the entire park was a hive of activity as racers and crew rushed to ensure their cars would be ready to join the convoy.
Both racing cars and old cars have a sterling reputation for being temperamental at best of times. Ownership is a fun idea, but the thought of maintaining an old racer scares me. The thought of maintaining an old Formula 1 car is enough to send me running to the hills.
My thoughts were reaffirmed as I did my very best to stay out of the way as the crew ran through their final checklists and prepared their three Formula 1 cars for a casual cruise through the city. Just firing up one of these classics requires a lot of effort and it’s something that I’d like to revisit in a little more detail at some stage.
Once each car had received the seal of approval, it was time for our superstar drivers to strap in and move to the staging area. Our window of opportunity to drive Adelaide’s closed roads was fast approaching.
When you’re cruising in convoy with a Ferrari FXX and 599XX, you know that you’re heading in the right direction. A quick side note: the angry notes produced by the FXX are what the current generation of Formula cars wish they would sound like when they grow up.
The staging area itself was an experience and a half; being surrounded by the sights and sounds of so many motoring icons was something I don’t think I’ll forget. In the past I’ve traveled great distances to see cars of this caliber parked in museums, but at this moment in time the museum was traveling to me. A museum in motion.
It was impossible not to appreciate the situation, and I wasn’t alone in relishing the surroundings. The entire park looked to be full of adults buzzing on a high, not unlike a playground of sugared-up children playing with brand new toys.
I couldn’t tell you how long we were actually in staging for, but I’m sure we were there for a while. In reality, it only felt like the briefest amount of time.
The clock ticked relentlessly and before we knew it, the call was put out: ‘Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.’Party Time
Our destination? Adelaide Motorsport Festival‘s annual street party that sees Gouger St completely overrun with both hero and competitor cars. Cars usually confined to garages and race tracks.
Of course, you can’t expect an event of this magnitude to go unnoticed in a busy city.
Whatever room wasn’t taken up by supercars and historic racers was quickly filled by motorsport fans and curious locals wanting to take a closer look at cars that are usually hidden, guarded or both.
What more could one ask for on a Friday night? Live music, a strip of great restaurants and a bevy of supercars wherever you look. Adelaide, you sure know how to party.
The crowd continued to grow throughout the afternoon and well into the night. Those who were either shackled to an office desk or had only heard about the event last minute may have missed their opportunity to experience the noise of Formula 1 earlier in the afternoon, but there was still a chance to catch the cars as they left the venue.
Not that I’m complaining, but I only really got to watch one car as we made our way to the party, so when it was time for the cars to exit I made sure I was in a prime position to see and hear them.
Taking part in the festivities on a street level gave me an idea of how busy Gouger St had become, but taking a step back, well, a step up in this case, really put the size of the event and the enthusiasm of Adelaide into perspective. I had no idea just how far the street party went.
What impressed me more than the cars or the size of the crowd is how the city of Adelaide itself has embraced the festival and motorsport in general. It’s a bold move and a massive step forward for a country that currently seems to pride itself on its ability to hunt down anything that tries to combine four wheels and fun.
Hopefully, other states will take note of the success of this event.