Formula 5000: A Flashback at Historic Sandown

December 1, 2018

Open wheel racing doesn’t really see a lot of spotlight here in Australia. Well at least not until now. The S5000 series has recently seen it’s fair share of news, with V8 Supercar greats Greg Murphy and John Bowe taking the newly debuted car for a spin and clearly enjoyed themselves while doing it. The S5000 series itself is the modern re-imagining of the Formula 5000s that ran in the Tasman Series from 1970 – 1979.

Named after the sea between the two countries, the Tasman Series was run in Australia and New Zealand. From 1964- 1969 it featured the obsolete 2.5 litre F1 cars from the early 1960s. It wasjt until 1970 came around until they staryed sporting the legendary 5 litre V8 engines.

William Hemming in the number 11 Elfin MR8

The series may not have met the example of the F1 at the time, but it was nothing to turn your nose up at. In the early years it attracted world class drivers such as Jackie Stewart, Bruce McLaren, and hometown hero Jack Brabham.

At Historic Sandown we were treated to the spectacle of these machines. The sight and sound was like nothing I had heard or see before, even if the racing may not have been as clean as expected.

Mishap after mishap saw the field cut down considerably by the end of the weekend. One major incident saw the first race red flagged. There was a lucky escape for Frank Harris in the 33 Chevron B24 in the first turn of the first lap. After spinning the car, it rolled back onto the track into the path of oncoming racers.

Frank Harris was lucky to walk away after rolling into the path of oncoming cars

Mishaps aside, the Formula 5000 was an experience, and I’m excited to see them again at upcoming historic events. 50 years on the S5000 may not attract current world class F1 drivers, but instead will help fuel the next generation of Australian champions. As well as giving the spectators a premiere open wheel event.

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