Sir Jack Brabham honored in Surfers
The first day of the Nikon SuperGP has got off to a honorable start today, with the number one ticketholder and three time Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham inducted into the Gold Coast sporting Hall of Fame in pit lane this morning.
Brabham received the honor in the Pirtek Australian Legends pits of the Nikon SuperGP, with Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame representative Daphne Pirie formally inducting Brabham, who is this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first F1 championship.
The Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame is Queensland’s first dedicated sports museum and presented Brabham with the “Legend of the Gold Coast”, with Brabham only the third to receive the award, joining international Rugby League player Peter Gallagher and Australian Invincible cricketer Sam Loxton.
"It is quite an honor to be inducted by the Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame," said Brabham.
"My first championship was 50 years ago and it is nice that those achievements are still being recognized today.
"The media interest and enquiries from the general public has been incredible and quite humbling really.
"I am really looking forward to Sunday, when Matthew (grandson and number 3 ticketholder) will drive one of my cars for the first time in the tribute lap and recreation of my ‘59 championship."
Later in the morning, reigning TW Steel Miss SuperGP Mareika van den Bergh took her last walk down the Nikon SuperGP pit lane as she prepared to hand over her title to one of the 2009 40 finalists at tonight's National Grand Final.
Also on track today was the first session for the Pirtek Australian Legends category, as well as practice and qualifying for Strategic Airlines Formula Ford and the Haymans Electrical Mini Challenge while the Aussie Racing Cars completed their first race after qualifying earlier in the day.
The fans lapped up the sight of these Bathurst and championship-winning cars being steered around the streets of Surfers Paradise by names such as John French, Jim Richards and Bob Morris.
"I have to say that when you get a phone call from Dick Johnson and Kevin Bartlett asking to be involved in this event I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes," said French.
"It was quite interesting and certainly enjoyable. It has been nearly 25 years since I raced competitively and having driven automatic road cars for many years the clutch did feel pretty heavy.
"Certainly when you get back behind the wheel you feel pretty spirited, but the last thing I want to do this weekend is put a scratch on it."
V8 Supercar driver and joint Grand Marshall for the event, along with his dad Dick, Steve Johnson was also at the wheel in today’s first of four 25 minute sessions.
"It was a thrill as I must have sat in the car hundreds of times since I was a kid, but today was the first time I have actually taken it out onto a track," said Johnson.
"It is very different to my Jim Beam Racing Ford, but it still goes really well. It has good horsepower and brakes. Even though it has massive rear wheels, the actual tires on the car are pretty old.
"The other unique thing about this racecar was the sheepskin car seat covers! I think I have got half a sheep on my back now."
Nikon SuperGP General Manager Greg Hooton confirmed a opening day crowd of 40,798.
"Overall it was a solid day," said Hooton.
"Obviously we were going to be down after the build up last week. Last Friday we didn’t event know what shape or form the event would take.
"I think there has been a remarkable job done in just five days and I am sure the V8 Supercars will kick off a really great three days from tomorrow.
"Many hotels have broken up their four or five night packages and that has received a excellent response. It has given people a chance to organize a trip from interstate at short notice and to be comfortable.
"There is a really good feel about the place and our team has just knuckled down to put together the best show possible for the fans.
"The Pirtek Australian Legends were great today in their first session and we cannot wait for the V8 Supercars to hit the track tomorrow."
In other on-track action today, Queenslander David Lawrence took first blood in the opening race for Aussie Racing Cars, crossing the line in the first of four races for the pocket rockets ahead of New South Wales’ Kyle Clews and Brad Ward, while Queensland’s Paul Stokell took the top spot ahead of tomorrow’s first race for the Haymans Electrical Mini Challenge, qualifying ahead of Nathan Caratti and V8 Supercar identity Glenn Seton. In the Strategic Airlines Formula Ford category, Mitchell Evans will start on pole for tomorrow’s first stanza, out qualifying Richie Stanaway and Ash Walsh.
Friday’s action kicks off tomorrow at 9.00am with the first of three practice sessions for the V8 Supercars, ahead of their first and second legs of qualifying ahead of Saturday’s Top Ten Shootout and the first two of the four 150km races. Also on track across the day will be the first races of the Strategic Airlines Formula Ford and Haymans Electrical Mini Challenge as well as race two for the Aussie Racing Cars and a massive on-track entertainment program including Freestyle Motorcross, stunt shows, burnout cars, dancers and a whole lot more.
Sir Jack Brabham was inducted into the Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame in the Nikon SuperGP Pit Lane this morning (credit - EDGE Photographics)|