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Home  /  March 2019  /  Racing

You probably woke up this morning thinking “forget global colding, child poverty, gender equality, the needs of Africa, biodiversity loss and whether the Roosters and the Eagles can double up this year (yes to the Roosters), I want to buy a new Ferrari 488 Pista”.

Well you can’t.

Despite the luxury car market being in the toilet, you can buy a Fezzer Pista (as in “I’ve been Pista all night”) only if you own a Ferrari 488. It doesn’t matter if you have the $650k (drive away, no more to pay) in cash in the tin under the bed … the Fezzer factory won’t take your money.

And not only that, you have to sign a form saying that when you want to flick it on, you can sell it only to Ferrari. Although right now, there are about 45 slightly used 488s up for sale. Asking prices range from $430k to $628k.

But you’d have to think that economics will prevail and lots of supply will mean lower prices and perhaps less demand for the Pista.

Talking of Fezzer, the factory has sent former F1 boss Maurizio Arrivabene to look for new career options after slotting technical chief Mattia Binotto in as team principal. Just before Chrissie (or Natale, as we say in Monza) Maurizio stole a line from the Trumpster, telling journalists that “The rumours about Mattia are fake news, put around to create instability in the team.” You know any time a CEO has to confirm he or she is safe in the job, they’re already halfway out the door.

There were a few reasons Maurizio got punted. One was the large number of strategic mistakes the team made during last season that probably cost Fezzer the world championship. The other was, and I will try to put this nicely, allegedly he caused lots of conflict.

As they say in Rome, teamwork makes the dream work. This will be a challenge this year as new driver, 21-year-old Chuck Leclerc, joins Seb Vettel in the red cars in the red suits near the new Red Lounge (a custom-built structure that spans 240sq m, immersing guests into Fezzer World) at the Albert Park raceway today.

Chuckie is the F1 driver from central casting. He was born in Monaco, the preferred tax haven of the racing car and bike crowd, comes from a racing family and had the late, great Jules Bianchi as a godfather and mentor.

If you really love motor racing, you should have been at the world’s only combined racetrack and waste management facility, or tip, Sydney Motorsport Park, last weekend, for the Festival of Sports Cars. The highlight was the first running of the Sydney 300, which had 40 cars, more than 80 drivers and a weird assortment of pit persons. But the real action was serious competition in the warm-up races that included nine million Nissan Pulsars, about eight million Hyundai Excels, 20 temporary Australians in Superkarts and 15 Alfas (most of which finished).

No, they didn’t all race together. There were separate races, except for some real enthusiasts like Brad Connelly and Ian Joyce, who finished off their divisional races, jumped back into their hot and sweaty cars and went out for 2½ hours of more fun.

Politicians, church leaders and do-gooders do rabbit on about community. But most of us live in a cocoon of comfort where the next-door neighbour could be running a meth lab or porn studio for all we know.

Grassroots motor racing is a real community. They even accept old Alfa drivers. Competitors on the track help each other in the pits. The weekend featured a large number of volunteers, who give their time so the rest of us could race, and some super Australian Racing Drivers Club officials.

Most of the cars are cheap to build and cheap to race. For example, the Australian Pulsar Racing Association is a controlled, one- make category based on the Nissan Pulsars built between 1990 and 2000. APRA chose Pulsar because they’re cheap (you can build a competitive race car for about $10k), relatively fast and most importantly, ‘‘they don’t look and sound like hairdresser cars’’.

“Hairdresser cars” is a direct occupation-based discriminatory slur at the competing class, the Hyundai Excel, which Pulsar drivers believe is the transport mode most favoured by Korean coiffeurs and coiffeuses.

On the other hand, Superkarts are driven by non-hairdressers who think motorbike racing is for wussies. Superkarts race on full length car racing tracks, can hit 240km/h down the straight and, I am told, are faster on most circuits than V8 Supercars. Naturally, the drivers are not strapped into the kart, which sits about one millimetre off the ground, has a front and a back but no sides and goes at roughly the speed of sound.

Anyway, you’re interested (or bored) in the results from the big one and why the old master, Mr Motor Racing, the King of Kensi, the Goya of Glenelg, Michael McMichael, whose track budget always includes Coopers Jailhouse Juice IPA, Margan’s Ripasso, Penfolds Club port, banana chairs, the best selling novel, Mechanics for Dummies, and a left-handed wrench, wasn’t there? Short answer: he had gout.

And who better to step in than the Wizard of Wakefield, the owner of raceawaytracktime.com.au, Phil Alexander.

Phil’s wife Karen is a well-known sculptor who says she is prepared to take it up to the King of Kensi and move to sculpting the human form. Anyway, the overall winners were Todd Herring and Andy Harris in an MX-5. Your WART drivers got a lucky podium in Division E behind two Beemers.

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