Maybach 1 and friends, Government House, Melbourne March 30, 2023 (M Bisset)
Oscar Piastri, Brundle Corner, McLaren MCL60 Mercedes (P Crook)

I think I’ve missed being present at only two Australian Grands Prix since 1980 – the birth of two of my three sons put paid to the granting of leave passes, bloody sods – but this year is the only occasion I’ve been a competitor. Actually participator is a more accurate way of describing the 60 Historic Demonstration folks.

Bob King very kindly offered his AC Ace Bristol for use in the three 20-25 min Historic Demo sessions on Thursday-Saturday and the one-lapper on race-day. Many thanks is the greatest of understatements Bobby!

AN Ace, AC Ace Bristol (B Williams)

I’m intimately familiar with Albert Park as I live only 800 metres from the Lakeside Drive/Ross Gregory Drive (turn 11) corner and walk or run the joint 5-6 days per week. But of course I don’t use the roads when I do that, it’s only driving it you realise just what a fast, flowing track the place is, especially for a normal roads track. It’s only Brundle (turn 3) and the ease-it-down-pit entry turn 13 that are really slow. Turn 1 to Albert Road Drive/Lakeside Drive Turn 6 is my favourite bit.

From a participants perspective the organisation is first-rate from entry, to bump-in (last Tuesday morning), communication and marshalling throughout the weekend, to bump-out this morning (Monday).

There was plenty of Oscar-mania, local boy as he is. Piastri hales from Brighton only 7km or so from Albert Park so the race is very much in his back yard (Getty Images)
Piastri, April 1, McLaren MCL60 Mercedes (M Keep)
The many colours of Oscar (Getty Images)

The Grand Prix was of course a clusterfuck in terms of red-flags but in these days of Drive to Survive Liberty Media hype and bullshit, get used to it. The cars – what cars? NONE of the technical elements of any of the categories of cars get a single-word in the programme – are just a prop, apparently, for all the people stuff.

Having said that, the increase in crowd numbers is welcome. The Victorian taxpayers kicked in $A78 million last year, as we fund the revenue shortfall every year, to retain the race. 444,631 punters attended the event over the last four days, a record since Victoria stole the race from the South Australians in 1996. Fat-Four global accounting firm EY quantified the 2022 race benefit to the Victorian economy as $A171 million. This is great as the race has, on occasion, been a political football. But these days the ruling, progressive Labour Party and opposition conservative Liberal Party (both outfits are parties of the centre in world terms) are both more or less onside in favour of the race. So the Sydney pricks probably won’t steal it from us!

My youngest got a poverty ticket on-the-fly on Friday – “fuck Dad you are barely moving in that old clunker!” – but the joint was sold out on Saturday-Sunday yonks ago. Not just the grandstand seats, ground passes too. Albert Park is a big joint, 680 acres, 120 of which is the lake, but 140,000 folks is a lot with the infrastructure which is almost entirely brought in onto the site. Only the huge pit-building is a permanent structure, it doubles as indoor sporting facilities for the balance of the year. The queues for the dunnies (toilets) weren’t amusing, nor was the overnite cleaning up-to-snuff. Stuff to fix.

Formula 2 Dallara F2-2018. Luca Pignatta designed carbon fibre monocoque powered by a Mecachrome V634T 3.4-litre turbocharged 620bhp V6. Hewland LFSC-200 six-speed sequential semi-auto transaxle (M Bisset)
The car pictured is Dallara F2-18 chassis #042 raced by Barbados thruster, Zane Maloney for Team Rodin Carlin (M Bisset)
Yummy yum-yum workmanship and finish. Upper and lower wishbones with pushrod actuated torsion bars, two inboard shocks (M Bisset)

The AGP is famous for the value provided in terms of support categories and exhibits right around the site and this year was no exception. Categories of cars were F1, F2, F3, Supercars, Porsche Carrera Cup and Historics. Somewhat contentious was the imposition of F2 and F3 among some local enthusiasts but both classes were fantastic with F3 the pick of the weekend exhaust notes. Oh for F2 to be normally aspirated! I didn’t see too much of their racing but what I did see was great.

Tim Miles’ great looking Hermann/Attwood 917 livery-inspired Carrera Cup car, and buddies (M Bisset)
Porsche 911 (992) 4-litre 510bhp GT3 Cup cars, final turn into Pit Straight, turn 14. Aren’t numbers a dull, shit-boring way to describe on-circuit locale? (M Bisset)

Paddock access to the Cup cars is great, the Supercars ordinary – the ‘Mustangs’ and ‘Camaros’ are in their trackside pits, part of the huge pit complex – and F2 and F3 cars virtually non-existent. A real bummer for open-wheeler nutters. One by-product of commercial success is more trackside grandstands which puts space at a premium generally and specifically makes trackside access to some of the best spots difficult to impossible.

The new Gen-3 Supercars – spaceframe V8 powered silhouette machines with carbon fibre/glass bodies – are spectacular things, only the ‘two-make’ sameness gives me the shits, as it has for the last 30 years. All of the one-make (or one chassis, two engines as here) stuff sucks, vive-le difference. I missed some of the races, the ones I did see were marred by safety cars, a bummer as they always put on a good show. An absolute pisser is that General Motors are dropping the Camaro as a production car just as maxi-taxi-centrale (Supercars Australia) are foaming at the mouth with hype about their brand new – 2023 – product and relevance of same to the buying public. Never mind, perhaps Hyundai will step forward with the i30…

Anton De Pasquale, Ford Mustang S650 Supercar aviating at the fast left-right Brocky’s Hill, turn 10. Spaceframe chassis, KRE built aluminium Ford 5.4-litre quad-cam, four-valve circa 600bhp Coyote V8. Xtrac six-speed transaxle (I Glavas)
A Camaro in front of a Mustang and a Camaro in front of a Mustang. #18 Mark Winterbottom, #56 Declan Fraser and #88 Broc Feeney and #25 Chas Mostert. Camaro ZL1 has a spaceframe chassis and is powered by a Herrod Performance Engines built aluminium Chev LS-based 5.7-litre pushrod, two-valve circa 600bhp V8. Xtrac six-speed transaxle (Getty Images)

Porsche Carrera Cup in Australia was once the preserve of a few pensioning-off Pro’s and well nourished business execs. These days it’s take-no-prisoners young(er) thrusters and just a few Pro-Am guys with the keys to the office booze cabinet and the secretarial pool. The racing was great, spectacular in the half-light as last event each day.

The entertainments not over though – one aspect of taxpayer funding is the value provided to all – for those who aren’t fully-juiced can walk-on-water (across the lake pontoon) to the golf course and take in live band performances. Not me though, I need me beauty sleep.

I did make it to the Governor’s bash mind you, courtesy of Auto Action editor, Bruce Williams who invited me along as his-bitch as he so delicately put it. On the basis that I didn’t have to provide any special-treats at the night’s end, I was happy to oblige. The Thursday evening gig for 1000 of Melbourne’s great, good and grovelling is terrific. The Governor is an amusing speaker and the fact they have the event at all reflects well on the way the sport is regarded by The Establishment.

(M Bisset)
(M Bisset)
Maybach 1, Stan Jones’ Charlie Dean/Repco Research built 1954 New Zealand GP winner was a bit of a rock star throughout the weekend as one of three or so cars present which competed in the ‘53 AGP at Albert Park. ‘Twas the 70 year anniversary since the first car racing @ AP (M Bisset)

That Jones fella gave a good speech and not too long after made a bee-line for Williams, who he knows quite well. We had him for about 10 minutes before he was dragged away. AJ had us both sad in recalling that his breakthrough British F3 Championship win (in 1973) was two days after father Stan’s death in London, and pissing ourselves about his short, Glenburn-farmer phase. That was just before he returned to Europe for his second F1-bite-of-the-cherry. My Top Three Favourite Cars question was easily answered; Williams FW07 Ford, Lola T332CS Chev Can-Am and (Alan Hamilton’s) Porsche 935 which, “with 800bhp just about lifted the front wheels off the ground on the exit of slower corners.”

As you all know, the F1 phase of the Australian Grand Prix – first held at Goulburn in January 1927 and won by Geoff Meredith’s Bugatti T30 – commenced in 1985 in wonderful Adelaide. Great as the Melbourne GP is, Adelaide was better. It turns out that Historics are the only support category that has been part of the bill every year. Yay team. And there are some clever, good-guys running the show led by Adelaide businessman and Austin Healey owner/fanatic Tony Parkinson, so long may that continue. Parky tells us the Grand Prix Corp punter-exit-surveys on the historics are always good. This year the mix of cars ranged from a 1920s Bentley Speed-Six to early 1981 Williams FW07, all single-seaters and sportscars.

George, Fernando, Chuck and Max (Getty Images)
Alonso heads out on 31 March, Aston Martin AMR23 Mercedes, and below the front chassis detail (C Putnam)
(C Putnam)

Having decided we wanted an Alonso Aston Martin win if Piastri/McLaren could not provide it, and having been on-site since early Thursday we bailed in time to get back to King’s TV at home for the race. The telly images of the city are terrific – wearing my taxpayers hat – and it was great to have the commentators interpret/guess officialdom’s next move. Quite why that Croft fellow has to go on like he has a cattle-prod perpetually attached to his hind-quarters I don’t know. The on-track action mainly does not justify his orgasmal level of aural excitement.

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, LAT, M Bisset

The morning after, Monday April 3, 2023 (M Bisset)


The first trucks delivering gear on-site arrived at 7.04am on January 1, 2023, it will be interesting to see when the last ones leave after the de-erection process.

(Getty Images)

It’s all about the customers, and my-lordy, aren’t they engaged!?


  1. John Macmillan says:

    Mark Fantastic I know Bob from Uni days. Bob passed .

    I thought the driver was treating the AC gently.

    I attended 1953 GP as a kid and sat in a TC in the paddock . Castrol R smell everywhere Many other memories since then e.g. Moss passing our Jack on the outside of golf course Practice as fog lifted in morning ERA coming out of fog towards the LHer at StKilda CG

    Keep up great workI am an ex jogger at AP Just check venue of first GP You would not say Goulburn if not correct I guess. Best wishes John Macmillan

    Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________

    • Parky says:

      Nice work Mr B.
      Clusterfuck sums up the main event succinctly.
      Look forward to more AGP historic action over the next five

  2. facelcf8 says:

    current F1 and V8 supercars is really just a joke

  3. malomay1968 says:

    Great write-up & some fantastic shots Mark, I was having a good chuckle through most of that (although, sad to see the absence of the once traditional grid girls, I don’t care what the PC brigade say). Was lucky enough to see & hear AJ down at Longford a couple of weeks ago, he’s an entertainer that’s for sure. I took my opportunity to actually have a run on the track a few years ago when they had a City to Sea fun run there for a bit. It’s a bloody long straight on foot.

  4. greg moss says:

    Great write-up Mark, I too live in the area (27th floor in Southbank) & have done so in earlier life. Actually ran away from home in Port Melb. when I was 11 to see Stirling race, had all the kids at school believing he was my uncle! Never did get to meet him, did you?

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