Booming Formula 5000 headlines PI Historics

By: Unique Cars magazine

Loud, fast and spectacular V8 open-wheelers celebrated

Booming Formula 5000 headlines PI Historics
Formula 5000 - Ken Smith with Tim Berryman in hot pursuit.

You might be too young to remember them in their heyday, but there was a time when the unmistakable booming racket of a field of V8 Formula 5000 open-wheelers dominated the local scene.

The class has done squillions of demontration races since it fell off the main programs around the country and to this day have an uncanny ability to get a crowd hanging off the dence to get a closer look.

The annual Phillip Island Classic meeting in 2018 celebrates 50 years of the winged monsters, and the organisers say there will be a field of 30 local and New Zealand cars fighting it out around the spectacular circuit. 

March 9-11, 2018, is the time to set aside for one of the country's biggest historic meetings. If you haven't yet seen one, we can recommend it. You can get up close in the pits with no trouble, and the sheer variety of machinery offered by the hundreds of entrants is stunning.

Here's what the organiser, the Victorian Historic Racing Register, has to offer in the way of detail:

The patrons include Alfredo (Alfie) Constanzo, the retired Italian-born Australian racing driver who competed in four Australian Grands Prix and won four Australian Drivers’ Championships, equalling the record set by Bib Stillwell.

Kevin Bartlett – often known as ‘KB’ is a former Australian open wheel and touring racing driver who won the Australian Drivers’ Championship in 1968 and in 1969, as well as the Bathurst 1000 in 1974 and was named in Wheels magazine’s year book in 2004 as one of Australia’s 50 greatest race drivers.

Alan Hamilton – twice Australian Sports Car Drivers’ Champion, Porsche Importer and Team Owner and four times winner of the Gold Star Championship with Alfie Constanzo. Alan was third in the 1971 Australian Grand Prix and second at Bathurst in 1974 with Colin Bond.

Tasmanian John McCormack became one of the leading Formula 5000 racers in the 1970s, winning the Australian Drivers’ Championship three times. John won the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1973/74 and as well as racing open wheelers he raced sport sedans and touring cars.

Ken Smith MBE from New Zealand won the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1976, 1990 and in 2004 and raced Formula Ford, Formula 5000, Formula Pacific, Formula Mondial and Toyota Racing Series. Ken has competed over 59 consecutive seasons on the motor racing circuit. He has won the Gold Star Drivers Award five times, Formula 5000 Revival three times, the Penang Grand Prix three times, the Selanger twice and the Malaysian Grand Prix once. In 1995 Ken was inducted into the New Zealand motorsport Hall of Fame.

VHRR Formula 5000 Group Representative Bob Harborow commented, "We will witness some spectacular racing and no doubt some great Trans-Tasman rivalry in the International Challenge at Phillip Island in March as the Formula 5000 cars are currently faster than the V8 Supercars racing.

"To showcase this and celebrate the Formula 5000s, some of the races will be longer and patrons will witness cars such as the A50 Matich which won the Australian Grand Prix, and the MR8 Elfin 5000 of Garrrie Cooper and Vern Schuppan which raced at both Laguna Seca, and Watkins Glen, USA," he said.

The Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motor Sport is hosted by the Victorian Historic Racing Register (VHRR) under the direction of veteran leader Ian Tate and a dedicated committee of volunteers who jointly make this an outstanding motor sport event that is internationally acclaimed.


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