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Adelaide: A Fan's Perspective
Some Fans and Cities Take Their Racing Seriously.
Just Keep Reading...
Adelaide Street Circuit
Other cities in South Australia host Formula One races, the Olympics and the like. However, not since 1995 has the City of Adelaide hosted a major international event. This means a great deal to the people of Adelaide, and probably a lot more than we can understand.
Adelaide is full of rabid racing fans, and John Kiejko is one such person. We were fortunate enough to speak with him about Formula One's history in Adelaide, and what hosting a major international event means to the people of Adelaide:
MMB: Any fond memories of F-1?
JK: There are many memories of the Formula 1 races here on the streets of Adelaide. One of the most memorable would have to be the race in 1986. The World Championship was going to be decided here by three drivers. Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet. Mansell needed to be in front of these two drivers in order to win the 1986 World Championship, and at one stage he was. Around the halfway mark of the race, Mansell, traveling down Brabham Straight, doing speeds up too 250 to 300 kph, suddenly fell into a lot of trouble. His left rear tyre blew apart, causing the Williams F1 to jack knife at that high speed in a shower of sparks! But he managed to control the almost uncontrollable Williams down the escape road at the end of the Brabham Straight. This incident ended any chance for Mansell to win the 1986 World Championship.
Another World Championship decided was in 1994. This time is was between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill. If I remember right, only one point separated them, with Michael leading Damon. The winner of this race was going to be the 1994 World Champion. When the race started, it was Michael Schumacher who had the upper hand, taking the lead in front of Damon Hill. For the first part of the race, Schumacher held off most attempts from Damon. But then Schumacher ran a little wide on the left hand, 90-degree corner in the East Terrace section of circuit. Hill saw this and made his move. He came up, and moved onto the inside of Schumacher, ready for the next 90-degree right hander. Schumacher was on the outside and way off the racing line. Hill still had the correct line and went into the corner, on the inside. Schumacher saw that Hill will take first
place, and he cut in on him. Hill was squeezed in between the concrete barrier on his right, and the Benneton of Schumacher on his left. Next, Hill's left tyre touched Schumacher's, and the Germans car went up on two wheels and straight into the tyre barrier. Damon Hill continued on. Everyone thought that Hill would go on to be World Champion, seeing that Schumacher was out of the race. But Hill had damage too. His left suspension was broken, and he took the Williams into the pits. And there he sat with pleading eyes to his mechanics, to fix his car and send him out again. But they gave him the no go. He was out, and Schumacher was the World Champion.  
MMB: What does Adelaide's hosting of a major race mean to you personally, and what does it mean to the people of Adelaide?
JK: For many, many years, there has been arch rivalry between the two Australian states of South Australia and Victoria. And even more so rivalry between the two capitals, Adelaide and Melbourne. The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Adelaide was the only major international event we had here, giving our city great international exposure. Finally after such a long time, when people heard that you are from Adelaide, they knew where you were from. But in 1993, Adelaide lost the rights to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the race went to Melbourne. It wasn't just that it went to Melbourne that hurt most of the people here. But it was the way it was orchestrated. The Victoria government went behind the South Australian government and signed the event for themselves. The morale in Adelaide at the time was terrible, and at an all time low. This was the only event that the entire city got behind, and now it was lost to the city we least like. And now, to this day, there is still anger and tension between the two states. The last Formula 1 Grand Prix in Adelaide was in 1995. Most of the infrastructure was eventually sold cheap to the Melbourne Grand Prix board. The only thing that wasn't sold was the temporary pits. The government said that we are going to keep them, just in case the F1's return, or a new motorsport event arrives in Adelaide.
It was then 4 years later when a new motorsport event came back to the streets
in 1999. It was the V8 Supercars on a shortened version of the old F1 circuit. The event brought back the same electric atmosphere as the Formula 1's did in the previous years. The event in itself was a huge success. But it didn't catch much overseas attention. The V8 Supercars are an Australian touring car race, and there isn't much interest at all elsewhere around the world. The people still loved the event, and everything here almost felt like the F1's were back in town. There were street parties, after race concerts, parties everywhere and of course, loud cars racing on tight streets. The morale here in Adelaide was back to an all time high. There was something to look forward too, something that everyone got behind and involved in. But then later on in the year, and out of nowhere, Adelaide suddenly had the final round of the American Le Mans Series. And the question that came onto most people here was, what is the Le Mans? Slowly over the next few weeks, people started to realize that Adelaide once again had an intentional motorsport event. That again we had the final round of a motorsport series. And once again, the full version of the old street circuit would be back. And what it also means is that Adelaide is under the spotlight again. The world will tune in on New Years Eve to see Sportcars tackle one of the world's most unforgiving street circuits. And people again will know where you are from, when you say you are from Adelaide.
MMB: What you would like to see in Adelaide's future.
JK: Personally, I would like to see both the V8 Supercars and the Le Mans to be a great success in the future here in Adelaide. Not only do I want the Le Mans to be a success here, but I want the Le Mans Series to become successful around the world. Deep down inside, most people here still want the Formula 1's back. But I believe that the Le Mans will fill the gap that the F1's had left. It would also be good if Adelaide would become one of those special races where every motor racing driver around the world wants to win. So far you have, Monaco, Indianapolis and the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the 3 main races that everyone wants to win. It would be good to see Adelaide one day among this group of prestigious circuits.
My thanks to John Kiejko for granting this interview - Kipling Hugh Taylor