Five years of Speedcafe.com: Movers and shakers

Speedcafe.com

Friday 24th October, 2014 - 4:00am

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Roland Dane

Roland Dane

As Speedcafe.com celebrates its fifth birthday, we look back at the best in Australian and international motorsport over the last half-decade.

Today we focus on the sport’s most influential characters both here and overseas, as selected by our editorial team.

Domestic

1) Roland Dane

Since purchasing what was Briggs Motorsport in the third quarter of 2003, Roland Dane took less than five years to turn Triple Eight Race Engineering into the dominant force in V8 Supercars.

Assembling a fine technical and engineering team, Dane has put together one of the most enduring competitive outfits in Australian motor racing.

Dane has also become enveloped in the category, currently serving as one of the board members of V8 Supercars representing the team owners.

Triple Eight meanwhile supplies engineering services to the bulk of the V8 Supercars grid and played a key role in the development of the category’s Car of the Future.

2) James Warburton

Midway through 2013, former TV executive James Warburton became the sixth V8 Supercars chief executive since the class began in 1997.

Entering the sport at the most challenging time in V8 Supercars’ history, Warburton’s tenure coincided with the bedding down of the new TV rights deal which will see the sport shared by Fox Sports and Network Ten.

Warburton has also tackled the task of the category’s medium-term sustainability head-on, preparing for a rebranding that will drop ‘V8’ from its name and establishing broader guidelines for future technical regulations.

3) Tony Cochrane

Although stepping away from the sport at the end of 2012, Tony Cochrane’s influence over the preceding three years as V8 Supercars chairman ensures he still makes this top-five list.

After taking control of Australian Touring Car racing towards the end of 1996, Cochrane led the sport into a bold new era when it morphed into V8 Supercars from 1997.

Taking the category’s commercial interests to a new level, Cochrane transformed the face of the sport via the team franchise system.

Among the evolution was a move to new locations which started with a push into Darwin’s Hidden Valley from 1998 and a year later the first running of the showcase Clipsal 500.

4) Ryan Walkinshaw

While not heavily involved in the day-to-day running of his team or the category, Ryan Walkinshaw’s position as the head of the Holden Racing Team earns the youngster a place on this list.

Heavy investment in the squad appears to be turning around the HRT’s fortunes, which have been notably lacking for more than a decade.

Under Walkinshaw’s direction the team has hired former Red Bull principal Adrian Burgess and, crucially, extended its factory Holden contract for at least another two seasons.

5) Adrian Burgess

Adrian Burgess’ place as a ‘move and shaker’ has been earned not through political clout, but rather results.

The Englishman has played a key part in each of the last four V8 Supercars Championship wins, leading Dick Johnnson Racing to the title in 2010 before enjoying a two and a half year stint at Triple Eight.

His defection to the Holden Racing Team for 2014 was one of the highest profile staff switches in the history of the sport.

International

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

1) Bernie Ecclestone

Since taking grand prix racing by the scruff of the neck and turning it into a multi-billion dollar empire, Bernie Ecclestone has ruled the roost with an iron first for the best part of four decades.

The diminutive Briton, who turns 84 next week (October 28), has clung to power amid turbulent times which saw him beat off a bribery charge this year.

Formula 1’s supreme ruler has moved the sport from an activity worshipped largely by the motorsport purists to one which is eulogised by a massive global audience.

2) Jean Todt

At first successful as a rally co-driver, Jean Todt made his mark on grand prix racing as the general manager at Ferrari from 1993 to 2007.

After leaving Ferrari, Todt became the president of the FIA in 2009 and is currently in his second term at the head of the governing body.

His tenure to date has included a focus on increasing the technological relevance of Formula 1, an ongoing overhaul of the sport’s junior ladder and a greater linking of the sport with high profile road safety campaigns.

Todt’s time has also notably seen a return of a FIA world championship for sportscars, which had been absent for some 20 years prior to the advent of the World Endurance Championship in 2012.

3) Dietrich Mateschitz

The patriarch of the Red Bull energy drinks empire has taken the motor racing world by storm over the best part of the last decade.

With Red Bull purchasing what was the Jaguar F1 team, the company set about transforming the squad into the most dominant team in grand prix racing over the last four seasons.

The Red Bull philosophy is very much a hands-on method of coming in and taking over an operation rather than just adding commercial dollars to an existing entity.

4) Brian France

As the CEO and chairman of NASCAR, Brian France is an obvious inclusion on this list.

The France family has ruled NASCAR with an iron fist since Brian’s grandfather, Bill France Sr, co-founded the santioning body in the late 1940s.

Brian took over the helm from his father, Bill France Jr, in 2003 and has been the driving force behind the creation and subsequent tweaking of the category’s Chase format.

Although dipping from its popularity high point of the early 2000s, NASCAR continues to be the dominant force in US motorsport.

5) Roger Penske

Roger Penske’s position as a leader in American motorsport has only strengthened in recent years through the performances of Team Penske.

Penske’s entries are currently the benchmark in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar Series, where he’ll expand to run four cars in 2015.

The team’s global footprint will also expand next year as the powerhouse joins the V8 Supercars Championship, in partnership with existing team Dick Johnson Racing.