The Formula 5000 racer that that Formula One champ James Hunt drove in Australia and the race that he won in it will feature in the country’s Winton Festival of Speed on August 13 and 14.
The late 1976 World Champion made his only competitive appearance in Australia two years after he clinched the title when he drove the locally designed Elfin MR8 B-C Formula 5000 to victory at the Rose City 10,000 despite a grid of Australia’s top drivers.
Hunt’s appearance was a sensation at the time (see race poster below) and left a marked impression on local enthusiasts who recall Hunt partying ‘long and hard’ after the victory.
The race at the Winton, Victoria circuit is being re-enacted as a highlight of the town’s annual Festival of Speed – a celebration of historic and classic competition fare.
The revised Rose City 10,000 will be run as two separate 10-lap races with an hour’s break in between on Sunday the 14 August, with practice the day before.
Local hotshoe Robert Harborow - currently regarded as the most Formula 5000 driver in the country - will be at the wheel of Hunt’s old car. The 69 year old is upbeat about his prospects: “The Elfin was one of the last of those [F5000] monsters to be made and is in very good nick and is very quick!”
The Festival’s Race Committee Chairman, Ian Ross, said the modern re-creation of the Rose City 10,000 would be even more exciting than the original event, which was run on the old Winton ‘short track’.
“With the Long Track’s two additional long straights and longer distance we expect the F5000 ‘big bangers to reach some awesome speeds which will be further enhanced by their considerable noise and power. With almost 600 horsepower on tap they make a pretty impressive spectacle,” he said.
“What makes these cars so special is that not only are they still very, very fast, but they are a rare and valuable addition to Australia’s historic racing.”
As well as the F5000s, the Festival of Speed will feature the ‘Rose City Touring Car Trophy’, a 20-lap mini-endurance race for historic tourers and featuring rolling start and a pit stop.
Other cars set to thrill include a couple of Le Mans Porsches: Porsche 962 Group C car and the famous 935 Turbo ‘Moby Dick’ – both on loan from the Porsche Museum.
The event is organised by the Victorian Historic Racing Register (VHRR) and Winton Raceway. Admission to the Winton FOS costs $25 Saturday, $30 Sunday or $50 for a weekend pass, all including Paddock entry. Winton is 1.5 hours north of Melbourne. See: www.vhrr.com for more.