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COLUMN! Australian motorsport’s rise to the top

Daniel Ricciardo and Will Power achieved a first for Australian motorsport with a double in the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

The historic achievement highlights the growth of Australian motorsport over the last few decades; an upward trajectory that can be traced to the first Formula 1 world championship Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1985.

The arrival onto the world stage 33 years ago built the foundations for Australian motorsport to truly integrate with international motorsport. Australians could showcase their talent on home soil, growing the motorsport landscape that produced the likes of Ricciardo and Power before they ventured overseas.

The Australian Grand Prix in  Adelaide led to other international motorsport events in Australia – Rally Australia from 1988, the Australian motorcycle grand prix from 1989 and Gold Coast Indy from 1991 – with the Adelaide 500 leading to a number of other Supercars street-circuit events, which was key to the growth of Australian touring cars.

“Adelaide did such a great job and everyone loved coming here,” says 1980 Formula 1 world champion Alan Jones. “It was the catalyst for Australia’s place in motorsport today.”

Ricciardo attended the Australian Grand Prix as a youngster, with father Joe Ricciardo racing in the Sports Sedans support category in Adelaide. Power made a name for himself in Australian open-wheel categories and showcased his talents in IndyCar on the Gold Coast.

Australia now hosts most major international motorsport categories and has a professional championship in Supercars with various other categories at different levels. The development of The Bend Motorsport Park and support for the grassroots will help the continued growth of Australian motorsport and the next generation of Ricciardos and Powers.

As Adelaide-born Supercars driver Nick Percat says of the Australian Grand Prix: “Seeing it firsthand made it real; something we could experience and enhance our interests in the sport.”

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