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First published in Auto Action issue 1690 August 4, 2016

By Paul Gover News Limited

A plan to return high-speed and high-tech open-wheeler racing to Australia has run into a roadblock by Supercars team owners.

The new category, which would be based on a Formula 5000-style car design from the 1970s, but with a modern carbon fibre chassis, is the brainchild of a Supercars management group led by Matt Braid and Shane Howard.

It is intended to pick up the 650-horsepower V8 engines already used in Supercars racing and their rear-mounted Albins transmission.

“What a waste of time. Dream on,” said Triple Eight team boss, Roland Dane.

Another team owner, who only spoke to Auto Action on condition that he was not identified, said, “It’s stupid. “What were they thinking? Who is going to build these cars? Nobody can afford them.”

The born-again Formula 5000 proposal was presented to Supercars team owners in Townsville by category chief James Warburton as part of a plan to take top-level motorsport through to 2025.

It is completely separate to Formula Thunder 5000, a car and category developed over the past two years by former racer and publisher Chris Lambden as the basis for a born-again Tasman Series contest each summer in Australia and New Zealand.

His car pairs a one-time Swift open-wheeler chassis with a 5-litre ‘crate’ control engine from the USA developing 500 horsepower.
The FT5000 prototype will run within a month and Lambden has already got major backing from Singapore-based Giti tyre company, which is developing special racing rubber for the class.


The Supercars proposal is a genuine attempt to create a new category, with rumours linking Oscar Fiorinotto – who heads the booming SupaShock business and is a former V8 Supercars engineer who now also does statistics for race commentary – to the design.

Several Supercars teams have already been approached about their capability to do the carbon fibre work, including autoclaving the chassis, for the cars.
But Dane, who heads the team that dominates Supercar racing and has arguably the best fabrication operation in Australian motorsport, is not backing the proposal.

“I don’t agree with it. I don’t believe it’s an avenue worth pursuing. That’s my only comment.”
And there could be another major hurdle to 650-horsepower open-wheeler racing.

According to senior CAMS official Michael Masi, the cars would be so quick they would likely need an FIA Grade 2 track license.

He says that, apart from the Formula One-level Australian Grand Prix course at Albert Park, only two Australian circuits have the required Grade 2 license.

Not surprisingly, Sydney Motorsport Park is one but the other is the Gold Coast street course, which was certified for the high-grade license during its time as host to IndyCar racing. That track, of course, is in use only once a year, in late October.