Speedcafe.com.au is pleased to welcome a new columnist to the team’s growing list of contributors – Chris Jewell.
Jewell is a respected figure in the V8 Supercars and Australian motorsport landscape, acting as V8’s on-track commentator, as well as completing other sponsorship and marketing activities for a number of drivers, teams and companies.
Jewell, a scholar and ‘know-all’ of all things motor racing, has taken ownership of Speedcafe’s new weekly column – Speed Talk.
Enjoy his musings. As always, let us know your thoughts …
SPEED TALK #1
The recent horrific flood events in Queensland and Victoria have been among the worst in our country’s history. They serve as a constant reminder of the extreme forces of nature that prevail in our wide, brown land. The regional areas of Queensland and Victoria have taken a monsoonal-like battering and to see the Brisbane CBD area so heavily hit was a huge shock to all of us.
Motor racing didn’t escape either, with Queensland Raceway, Willowbank and Lakeside all heavily hit, while a number of karting circuits were also affected. The floods, together with the horrible loss of property, personal belongings – and in some cases, life – certainly puts things well and truly into perspective.
Sport is a great tonic to bring people back together, and it was not lost on me last night as I watched cricketer Shane Watson belt his way to an unbeaten and game-winning innings against The Poms, that the blonde Adonis hailed from flood-ravaged Ipswich. Motorsport fans enjoy the same escapism and while our sport is more expensive than that of the willow-wielding lads, its attractiveness is no less so. For many, it’s nothing more than being a fan of a driver, team, car or series. For others, it’s a hobby and pastime, while for a select group it’s a profession – for all of us though 2011 looks well poised to be a cracker of a year.
We have so much to look forward to both locally and overseas, and for some, the on-track action has already started. Round 3 of the New Zealand Racing Series took place during the weekend just passed – at the world’s Southern-most circuit, Teretonga. The track is steeped in history and was once host to the famous Tasman Series for international open-wheel stars, and an Aussie flew the flag high for us in hostile territory with Scott Pye scoring a win in the opening race of the Toyota Racing Series.
Scott will this year contest the British Formula 3 Championship and it’s fair to say there has never been a year where we have had so many young stars competing on the world stage … and not just competing, they are all in with a genuine shot of winning races and championships.
Here’s just a few to keep an eye on. F1: Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo (F1 testing, F-Renault 3.5 Series too), IndyCar: Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, British F3: Pye, British Formula Ford: Geoff Uhrhane, NASCAR: Marcos Ambrose).
By virtue of his career to date and a simply stunning 2010, Mark Webber is the driver with the highest profile and I for one have already started counting down the hours until the GP opener in Bahrain. Although, I’d actually sacrifice MW winning there to see him do so at the AGP at Albert Park, can you imagine what that would do for Australian motorsport.
Maybe a few Australian companies will then see the merit in supporting our motor racing talent. It irks me to see how many companies fail to do so, yet despite our strength as a motorsport nation most of our drivers – be it up and coming or established – receive precious little in the way of support. Just this weekend Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado – winner of the 2010 GP2 title – unveiled his PDVSA (Venezuelan Power Company) sponsored Williams during a demonstration in Caracas. A 20,000-strong crowd was in attendance, as was the country’s President! As popular as the sport may be in South America, I’ll bet Pastor’s popularity doesn’t out rate that of Webber’s back here in Oz.
Let’s just hope Mark can take it right up to Sebastian Vettel this year. He will need to in order to continue his F1 career, and I sense we might just be on the verge of something very special. Vettel’s personality could see him assume a Schumacher-like confidence and be untouchable, dependent on competitiveness of his new RB7 of course. Conversely, if things don’t go according to plan for Seb during the early races it will be interesting to see how he copes.
Here at home, we will soon be buried knee-deep in all things V8 Supercars with the pre-season Eastern Creek test now less than two weeks away. New colours, new driver combinations, new sponsors and a return to the fold of WA’s Barbagallo round, making our beloved Ford versus Holden rivalry a truly national stoush once more … but more of that next week.