In the 80s, 90s and perhaps even into the early naughties, V8 Supercars and the Bathurst 1000 were the domain of the bogan. While we try to steer clear of the stereotypes, it’s not wise to pretend they don’t exist.
However, when the opportunity arises to kill one ofthem off, especially one in such a deep relationship with a great sporting event, we’re more than happy to oblige. Over the past few years Tony Cochrane and the team at the V8 Supercar championship have worked tirelessly to turn the series into one of the better motor racing experiences around the world, and the Bathurst 1000 is the icing on the delicious cake. So here are 10 reasons why they’ve successfully shed the bogan image and have become a real “world” championship touring car series.
1. World rounds: Sure, the championship has been visiting Australia Lite (NZ) for years now, but that doesn’t count. What does is rounds in Abu Dhabi and the USA. The deal to race in Austin, Texas is especially important. For America to let another country’s touring car series invade NASCAR land is an impressive step. It can’t be a bogan series if countries sans bogans host races.
2. World renowned drivers: Dick Johnson, Peter Brock, Craig Lowndes. They’re all amazing drives and all immensly important to the sport. But so are names such as Vitantonio Liuzzi, Helio Castro-Neves and Jacques Villeneuve. These are all drivers who are known around the world and compete against the best in the business. They have such a high respect for Aussie V8s that they want to race in Australia. That’s a nice feather in the cap.
3. Big sponsors: Gone are the days of the local garage sponsoring a three-car team and making the drivers act as mechanics and PRs as well. When companies such as Vodafone, Etihad, Toll and Pepsi want to get involved, you know that big companies think people pay serious attention to V8 Supercars. And who are we to question that logic? It takes a hell of a lot of professional people to get a team off the ground now days.
4. Race arrests: There were only 56 arrests last year during the great race. That’s well down on what you could safely assume a bogan event would have over that number of days with people drinking that much alcohol. If it comes down a bit further this year that the non-bogan status is well and truly signed and sealed.
5. Well behaved drivers: Gone are the much lauded “men of motorsport”. Moffat, Perkins, Richards – all the chaps with a good sense of humour and even better unpredictable temperament. But that’s not a bad thing. Although the drivers are younger and more media savvy these days, they take their aggression out on the track and let it all hang out. Just don’t expect to see them down at the local a few hours before the race.
6. V8’s are no longer practical: The bogan car of choice was always the V8. Commodore or Falcon, it was all good. But those days are gone now. You’re more likely to see the stereotypical bogan in an Falcon XR6 Turbo, or even a Chevy branded standard Commodore. Dare we say it, some of them have even started driving Subaru WRX STIs and Vokswagen Golf GTis. The V8 sedan is fast becoming purely a race car and something of a myth on the roads today.
7. World dominance: Just 10 years ago it was the British Touring Car Series that was the dominant force in tin top racing. That soon became a pile of sardine cans racing each other, leaving the European Touring Car Series, Deutsche Touring Masters and V8 Supercars to battle it out. The latter two are winning, and guess what, both are V8s. How can V8 racing be bogan if the Germans with their Audis and Mercedes’ are into them? And if it’s popular, which it is, that naturally means it’s reaching a wide audience.
8. Pink is in V8 Supercar ads: Come on, surely we don’t have to explain that one!
9. Grant Denyer is driving: When you put the tiny weather man in a V8 Supercar, well, nothing much happens. But if V8s were going for a bogan market, surely Warwick Capper would have been in a car somewhere (in the ditch probably) by now.
10. James Courtney: Yes, he’s from Sydney’s west and now lives on the Gold Coast, but the current champ spent most of his life in Europe competing in formula racing and mixing it with some of the big F1 guns. Nothing like a bit of European bred Aussie flare lighting up the track for the famous Holden Racing team.
Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men’s Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney’s North Shore with his girlfriend.