John Bowe: We're seeing one of the greatest rivalries
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By John Bowe
It's hard to believe we've been racing at Eastern Creek (Sydney Motorsport Park) for 24 years and it's the newest track in NSW, how scary is that?
While opinions have always been divided on the circuit layout, I love the place, especially since the ARDC straightened out turn five. This weekend V8 Supercars will run on the traditional Eastern Creek circuit - turn one is one of the best, most challenging corners in the country and certainly one of the fastest ... come and watch if you don't believe me!
I ask, why not use the extension (new section) with the extra wiggly bits though? It would have cost taxpayer millions and it's seldom used!I'm not sure why?
I've raced on the extra wiggly bit for the last two years and it's hard work but good fun.I think V8 Supercars should consider the longer circuit next year; it's new, fresh and creates a whole new set of challenges for the drivers and their engineers.
This brings me to what I think is shaping as one of the very classic V8 Championship battles - withWhincup V Winterbottom. On one hand we have a widely acclaimed Champion, in an awesome team that is highly successful. They seem to be swimming with such confidence at the moment - why wouldn't they?
On the other side, we have a very talented, single minded and hungry challenger, driving so well, but probably at longer odds for the title I would suggest!
There have been some epic Championship battles, some before my time and some during it.
The Brock/Johnson tussle had that hero-underdog feel when I was a young open wheeler man, and the same goes for Ambrose and Skaife wrestling match.
The year I won the Championship (1995) we went into the last round (Oran Park) with three potential winners only a few points apart (Glenn Seton finished second and Brock third). I can assure - that was very tense!
The similarity with a lot of those battles wasthe favourite was in the Holden because Holden has always supported their motorsport heroes, and the challenger has always been in a Ford, who've been very hot and cold in their support of motor racing in this country.
It usually depended on who's in the President's chair (at Ford) at the time. Glamorous high level motorsport creates amazing brand loyalty, it ultimately sells cars but you have to stick at it unconditionally to reap the rewards.
We may not have a Falcon or Commodore in a couple of years time but we'll still have Fords and Holden's sold in Australia - think about it?
This weekend's battle features many others, some who can and will win races but the dye has been set for a long term Jamie/Frosty epic season long battle. If I was betting on a Sunday 200km winner,I would have a wager on the GRM Volvo of Scotty M and HRT's James Courtney.
In my form guide they look good for the podium. Saturday's 100km races will depend a great deal on qualifying,please V8 powers - standardise the race program and tyre selection for next season.
I'm very close to it and even I get a little confused, I'm not sure what the fans feel about all this week in week out variation?
This weekend, my current love, the Touring Car Masters will race as support category to the V8 Supercars, not at the Muscle Car Masters as we usually do. I support the move whole heartedly; our Muscle Cars have a real DNA to the V8 Supercars.
They are overpowered and under tyred, fans love their wayward antics and the category is a bit like seniors golf really. Still skilful and entertaining without the same killer instinct we once had. People around the country have universally expressed their love for the Touring Car Masters category.
TCM strongly discourages contact/panel damage; the entertainment value is not in the crashing but the antics of cars and drivers. If you crash you may be told to put your car on the trailer and go home. They are not too easy to find bits for, thank god for my friends at Rare Spares.
I do love Eastern Creek - Sydney Motorsport Park as they call it now; I'm also driving the Maranello Motorsport's prepared Ferrari 458 of Peter Edwards, I must be glutton for punishment? My rationale is to keep the brain maxed - you couldn't get two more extreme categories, just to make it a little more interesting - the races are back to back this weekend!
I just hope I don't forget which car I'm driving!
My weekend starts a day earlier with a stroll down memory lane with Dick Johnson. We are guests of my good friends Sinclair Ford (Penrith), Dick and I've been touring our Australian Motorsport Royal Family Reunion Tour (don't you love the name?).
It's a great show, we've been known to tell a few funny yarns - after all we were together for 11 years, there's plenty to tell. There a still few tickets available, if you're quick, we might see you there on the night.