Touring-car legend Mark Skaife stood at the top of Australian motorsport in 1992, winning the Australian Touring Car Championship, Bathurst 1000 and Australian Drivers’ Championship (Formula Brabham). And he ended the year with his only drive of a Formula 1 car, at Colonnades shopping centre, of all places.
Having already conquered Australian motorsport and at just 25 years of age, overseas opportunities beckoned with Skaife competing in the final two rounds of the 1992 International Formula 3000 series, the feeder category to Formula 1.
Soon after his Formula 3000 outings, Skaife was given the opportunity to drive a Jordan Formula 1 car at the Adelaide Grand Prix’s demonstration day at Colonnades shopping centre in the lead-up to the 1992 event.
The Australian Grand Prix Office arranged for Skaife to drive the Jordan 192 Yamaha, a spare car for the 1992 race, in a six-lap demonstration run in front of a big crowd alongside HQ sedans, sprint cars, dragsters and vintage cars.
“It was very, very quick, great to drive but fairly slippery on the corners,” said Skaife.
“It feels quicker than anything I’ve done before. It takes a little bit of getting used to; everything is so different – you’ve just got to touch the throttle and it lights the wheels up. It’s a bit like an Arnotts biscuit with an outboard on it.”
It was Skaife’s only drive of a Formula 1 car, after plans to race in Formula 3000 on a full-time basis in 1993 fell through, instead focussing his attention on racing in Australia with a return to Europe to race a Lister in the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Skaife dominated Australian touring cars in the early 2000s, finishing his career with five Australian Touring Car Championship titles and six wins in the Bathurst 1000.