A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland

1985

Adelaide Alive Going All the Way Grand Prix

Adelaide Alive Fomula 1 11 years, 4 days of motor racing maddness. How Mad was that, Adelaide Alive, Mad to be there Mad of being there. Mad Mad Mad. Post-card of 1986 showing 1985 race highlight, Glen Dix the flagg waving legend, signed by 1985 winner Keke Rosberg.

1985 Australian Grand Prix comes to Adelaide. 1985—1995

Colin my brother asked me if I was interested in working as an Usher at the Adelaide Grand Prix.   I would be working in the Press area during the four days of the race, and prior to starting I need to attend a training session.  Attend the Australian Grand Prix without the need to buy a ticket I’d be in that just to be there. The circuit was built in the East Parklands, with the Victoria Park Racecourse, set up with the pits and paddock on the infield of the racecourse and a series of corners and straights around the streets of the city’s East End.

Usher the Prix

I attended all eleven of Adelaide’s Australian Formula One races; with a team of dedicated fellows providing service second to none with good humour and fun. 

Des managed the team from day one, able assisted by his mate Roger. 

Alex only did the first year, Trevor stayed for the whole eleven events, Alan and David joined the team in the second year.  We entertained ourselves while giving as much help as possible to all media and management staff we could, always with a certain amount of good South Australian humour. 

I was with Colin’s eldest son Alex and son-in-law Trevor.  I arranged to pick the boys up on the way to the track, first morning I did the pick-up in the HR family car (wagon).  We found an all-day park five minutes walk from our designated area.  Anyways on spotting the park I dropped the HR into reverse, dropped the clutch while feeding in the fuel and the resulting blast in reverse the big 186′ jumped off it’s engine mounts.  Bugger, yep it’s still drivable, the column gear leaver was in a different position I’ll worry about that later.  Much later, we worked 12 hours that day at the Race, I dropped the boys off, and stopped at Rocca Brothers on the way home, to buy new engine mounts.  Got home, jacked up the engine off with the old broken mounts in with the new mounts and Bob you Auntie we’re back on the road.  The new engine mounts were a new improved version with a safety hook built in, I should never jump the mounts again. Talk about what happened, Damon wants the know?

Photo Gate 12 Alex, keen race gower, Richard 1985

Our area was Gate 12, the gate for the Media personnel and the corporate boxes in this sector of the track. Fun and games trying to assist people coming in asking where to go for their designated Corporate box. Eventually one of the team found a plan for where the various Corporate were. The day was long, however, the changing from a rush of excitement as people entered for the first time, settled down to a trickle then the curious passer-by keen to ask if they could have a peek in. Later in the day early leavers don for the day offered their tickets up for any other person wanting a look at what is happening. Fortunately, a couple of mothers with their children in pushers got an opportunity to see inside the event.

Those white Jacket (pictured) for the first year, the elastic banding around the wrists was so tight, quite a few were cut to relieve the circulation, also the hats supplied were Baseball style cap that was later found quite unsuitable for standing in the sun all day for four days. Sunburn ears their specialty.

1985

Wikipedia quotes:

The 1985 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on the Adelaide Street Circuit in Adelaide on 3 November 1985. The sixteenth and final race of the 1985 Formula One World Championship, it was the 50th running of the Australian Grand Prix and the first to be held on the streets of Adelaide on a layout specifically designed for the debut of the World Championship in Australia. The race was held over 82 laps of the 3.780 km (2.362 mi) circuit for a total race distance of 310 kilometers. The race was won by Keke Rosberg driving a Williams-Honda; 

The state government had a team of prominent people lobbying to bring the Formula One race to Adelaide with Alan Stanley Jones, MBE Formula championship win in 1980 being the draw card to Help.

Alan Jones was given the honour of doing the first lap of the track in a Formula 1 car as he set out alone at the beginning of practice for an extra two laps to the applause of the home crowd. Never far from politics, prompted immediately protested to race officials saying Jones had an unfair advantage of extra laps. Unfortunately for Alan’s Lola expired after he had stormed up to sixth place.  

He was the first driver to win a Formula One World Championship with the Williams team, becoming the 1980 World Drivers’ Champion and the second Australian to do so following triple World Champion Sir Jack Brabham.

Formula 1 had arrived in Australia and 105,000 people trackside plus a massive TV audience loved it. So too the teams, drivers and the whole F1 circus. The Grand Prix won the Formula One Race Promoters’ Trophy as the best-run Formula One Grand Prix of 1985. Not bad for a first swing at it.

Being attached to the Media centre we got to know the journalist and photographers as they came and went, sometimes asking questions of Adelaide. with the event being held for the first time there were teething problems with transport from the track to the city and suburbs for the interstate visitors. As I was leaving the track at the end of the first day I offered a group of photographers a ride into the city, they were pleased to avoid the wait and at the end of the event I was offered a couple of photos of the event.

In the following years, improvements were evident each time. Crowds put up with some horrendous weather, including the shortest Formula 1 Grand Prix in history in 1991 – red flagged for good after only 14 laps and 24 minutes of racing. 

1986

Wikipedia:

The 1986 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 26 October 1986 at the Adelaide Street Circuit, Adelaide, Australia. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1986 Formula One World Championship. The race decided a three-way battle for the Drivers’ Championship between Brit Nigel Mansell, driving a Williams-Honda; his Brazilian teammate Nelson Piquet; and Frenchman Alain Prost, driving a McLaren-TAG.

Mansell took pole position for the race, but a poor start off the grid-enabled teammate Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Keke Rosberg to overtake him and demote him to fourth by the end of the first lap.

Alan Prost claimed both the race and the World Championship. Prost had so little fuel left that he pulled up only metres past the finish line.

This year I was given the task of monitoring the Back door that leads into the Interview room. “Don’t forget to stand at this door there is a Special pass??

Alain Prost by the end of the race was in need of a rest, but wait there is a media conference to celebrate your win.  If that was not bad enough Alain Prost had to battle his way out of the conference through a huge crowd of ‘fans” waiting outside, but Oh No! the Usher at the door wants his Jacket signed!  Yes, sorry, what a very obliging man.

The year Fangio was guest of honor, a very polite man who would shake hands with anyone who asked, Champion Driver, Champion Man.

1987

Wikipedia:

The 1987 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held in Adelaide on 15 November 1987. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1987 Formula One World Championship.

The 82-lap race was won by Austrian driver Gerhard Berger, who started from pole position and led every lap in his Ferrari. Brazilian Ayrton Senna finished second in his Lotus-Honda but was subsequently disqualified, thus promoting Berger’s Italian teammate Michele Alboreto to second and the Benetton-Ford of Belgian Thierry Boutsen to third.

Highlight I believe this was the year Gerhard Berger appeared on the cover of the Adelaide Phone book. Telephones were of interest to the Team working at the Media Centre, in the first year, the journalists were carrying around a briefcase-sized battery with a Telephone connected by a cord. in 1986 the Telephone was free of the briefcase-sized battery and resembled a sizable brick.

1988

Wikipedia:

The 1988 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at the Adelaide Street Circuit on 13 November 1988. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1988 Formula One World Championship and the last race for which turbocharged engines would be eligible until the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.

The 82-lap race was won by Frenchman Alain Prost, driving a McLaren Honda. It was Prost’s seventh victory of the season, and the McLaren team’s fifteenth, a record for a constructor in a single season that would stand until 2014. Prost’s Brazilian teammate and new World Champion Ayrton Senna finished second, having started from pole position, while Senna’s compatriot and outgoing champion Nelson Piquet came third in a Lotus-Honda, achieving what would turn out to be the final podium finish for the original Team Lotus.

Yes the Telephone were getting smaller and more people were carrying them.

1989

Wikipedia:

The 1989 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Adelaide on 5 November 1989. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1989 Formula One World Championship.

The race took place in wet conditions, with only 70 of the scheduled 81 laps run before the two-hour time limit was reached. It was stopped and restarted following a first-lap collision, with Frenchman Alain Prost declining to take the restart in his McLaren-Honda. Prost’s Brazilian teammate, Ayrton Senna, started from pole position and led the first 13 laps before colliding with the Brabham-Judd of Briton Martin Brundle, after which Belgian Thierry Boutsen led the remainder of the race in his Williams-Renault. Boutsen won by 28 seconds from Italian Alessandro Nannini in a Benetton-Ford, with another Italian, Riccardo Patrese, third in the other Williams-Renault.

This was the final Formula One race for Frenchman René Arnoux, American Eddie Cheever and Italian Piercarlo Ghinzani, and the final race entered by Briton Jonathan Palmer, who failed to qualify. It was also the final race entered by the German Zakspeed and Rial teams.

Thierry Boutsen I did not get his signature, I did ask politely, but no!

In 1989 I began working at Croydon Park College, there was a Team (most of the Automotive School) involved with the Formula Hoden car the Shrike, a racing car built by students enrolled in a course for Motor Sports.

Photo by Tony Donoghue Photography

1990

Wikipedia:

The 1990 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Adelaide on 4 November 1990. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1990 Formula One World Championship, and the 500th race to contribute to the World Drivers’ Championship since the series started in 1950. The race was the 55th Australian Grand Prix, and the sixth to be part of the Formula One World Championship. It was held over 81 laps of the 3.78-kilometre (2.35 mi) circuit for a race distance of 306 kilometres (190 mi).

The race was won by Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet, driving a Benetton-Ford. Briton Nigel Mansell finished second in a Ferrari, with French teammate Alain Prost third. The win, Piquet’s second in succession, secured third place for himself in the Drivers’ Championship and the same position for Benetton in the Constructors’ Championship. Compatriot Ayrton Senna took pole position in his McLaren-Honda and led until he suffered a gearbox failure on lap 62.

The year the Medis Centre was located above the Pit area.

Usher the Prix

I attended all eleven of Adelaide’s Australian Formula One races; with a team of dedicated fellows providing service second to none with good humour and fun. 

Des managed the team from day one, able assisted by his mate Roger. 

Alex only did the first year, Trevor stayed for the whole eleven events, Alan and David joined the team in the second year.  We entertained ourselves while giving as much help as possible to all media and management staff we could, always with a certain amount of good South Australian humour. 

The Team of Ushers: Des walking toward the camera, Roger looking down the entrance steps, Simon is ready, Trevor sitting at the ready and Allan waiting to fill the gap.

We got up close to most of the drivers, some of the personalities and celebrities, and collected a few treasured souvenirs along with many treasured memories. 

1991

Wikipedia:

The 1991 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 3 November 1991 at the Adelaide Street Circuit. It was the 16th and final race of the 1991 Formula One World Championship. Torrential rain resulted in the race being stopped after just 16 of the scheduled 81 laps had been completed. The official results were declared from the end of the 14th lap, two laps before the race was suspended, in line with regulations. It held the record for being the shortest Formula One World Championship race until the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix.

The race was won by Ayrton Senna, with Nigel Mansell in second position, and Gerhard Berger’s third-place finish plus Senna’s victory meant that the McLaren team clinched the Constructor’s championship. Mansell was unable to take part in the post-race podium ceremony, following a crash at the end of the race that left him requiring hospital treatment. Because less than seventy-five percent of the scheduled race distance had been completed, only half the normal World Championship points were awarded. This was also the final Formula One race for the third time World Champion Nelson Piquet. It was the 60th pole position for Ayrton Senna. It would also prove to be the final Grand Prix for Satoru Nakajima, Naoki Hattori, Alex Caffi, and Emanuele Pirro.

1992

The 1992 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Adelaide on 8 November 1992. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1992 Formula One World Championship.

The 81-lap race was won by Austrian driver Gerhard Berger, driving a McLaren-Honda. Berger won by 0.7 seconds from German Michael Schumacher in a Benetton-Ford, with Schumacher’s British teammate Martin Brundle third. Nigel Mansell, in what was intended to be his final Formula One race before his move to IndyCars for 1993, took pole position in his Williams-Renault and led until Brazilian Ayrton Senna, in the other McLaren-Honda, collided with him while attempting to overtake him, eliminating them both.

Brundle (who spent 1993 with Ligier), Berger (who returned to Ferrari) and Riccardo Patrese (who joined Benetton) were among the many drivers for whom this was the final race with their current teams, while for Jan Lammers, Stefano Modena, Maurício Gugelmin and Olivier Grouillard it was the last Grand Prix of their careers.

This was McLaren’s final race using Honda engines until 2015. The company ceased their full factory involvement in the sport following this race, although the Mugen arm of the company continued. They returned in 2000 as engine supplier to BAR.

This Grand Prix also proved to be the last for the March team.

1993

he 1993 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Adelaide on 7 November 1993. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1993 Formula One World Championship.

The 79-lap race was won by Ayrton Senna, driving a McLaren-Ford. In his last race with McLaren before joining Williams for 1994, Senna took pole position and led from start to finish, except during the pit stops. Alain Prost, in his final Grand Prix before retirement, finished second in his Williams-Renault, with teammate Damon Hill third.

Riccardo Patrese and Derek Warwick also retired from F1 after this race, Patrese having competed in a then-record 256 Grands Prix. Senna’s victory would turn out to be the 41st and last victory in his Formula One career, and the last time he would finish on the podium, score points, or even finish a race

We got up close to most of the drivers, some of the personalities and celebrities, and collected a few treasured souvenirs along with many treasured memories. 

Like, the time 1993, George Harrison signed the arm of my Staff jacket with an added sketch of a syringe.  “Getting your celebrity fix in my arm”. 

Like, the time 1993, George Harrison signed the arm of my Staff jacket with an added sketch of a syringe.  “Getting your celebrity fix in my arm”. 

I have most of the winners’ signatures on the jacket of that particular year.  There was however one year I called the year of the Prix (Pricks) as there seemed every second person I met in the course of the day were ‘Pricks’  They didn’t entirely spoil the fun for me just gave me a better appreciation of those who could take the event in their stride. 

George Harrison, I met when he was walking in the area behind the pits, asking for an Autograph on the arm of my Staff jacket.  He had expected to sign the front, he, therefore, added a sketch of a syringe.  Saying “Getting your celebrity fix in my arm”. 

Hi-lights were many; walking through the F1 and support racers’ Pits, meeting the drivers, the legends, and those people who made the event happen.  Experiencing the hype, the noise, the smell, the excitement, the lulls at the end of the day, the corporate functions, and more, I was there for the duration, all be it so much packed into such a short time.  From early morning to late at night, being able to help others, be they media, management, the fans, and the team I worked with while being a part of the whole thing.  Fun, Fun, Fun.

1994

Wikipedia:

The 1994 Australian Grand Prix (formally the LIX Adelaide Australian Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 13 November 1994 at the Adelaide Street Circuit. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1994 Formula One World Championship. The 81-lap race was won by Nigel Mansell driving for the Williams team after starting from pole position. Gerhard Berger finished second in a Ferrari car with Martin Brundle third for the McLaren team.

The race is remembered, besides being the closing of one of the most tragic seasons in the history of the category, also for an incident involving the two title contenders Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher which forced both to retire and resulted in Schumacher winning the World Drivers’ Championship. Also notable was the last appearance in a Formula One Grand Prix of the first incarnation of Team Lotus, previously seven-time Constructors’ Champions. It was also the 31st and last Grand Prix victory of Nigel Mansell’s Formula One career.

What was Michael Schumacher thinking when he crashes into Damon Hill? 

Working at the Australian Gran Prix in 1994, with the team of Ushers managing the Media Centre a group of us were sitting in the cafeteria near the Gents when Michael Schumacher walked into the Gents, pre-race last personal preparations, perhaps, we could only guess.  One of our team members, JJ, suggests he would like to get a photo with Michael.  I jumped up when Michael came out to ask if we could take a photo.  Michael stops and stands waiting, JJ sits there watching motionless, I beckoned him to come over for his photo opportunity.  No movement, after a few minutes (which seemed like 20) Michael walks off. 

Michael walking through the Media Centre with a journalist and yours truly taking in the moment Photo by Alan 1995 No time for Autographs Now

The above photo of Michael walking through the Media Center (Alan is in the background walking away through the door in a Red and white Staff jacket, ) was taken the following year after asking!

That was the prelude to the race where Michael crashes out.

The race starts, Michael takes a commanding position as the race goes on, however, his car is failing, Damon, Michael’s main rival for the World Championship, is pressing, about to pass.  Coming into a corner at the end of Dequetteville Tce straight, Michael falters and Damon presses to pass, is then caught with nowhere to go when Michael closes the gap,  the resulting crash resulted, with both cars retiring from the race, Michael is World Champion. 

What was Michael thinking, to cause him to falter? 

Well, let me tell you what I believe happened.  During the race there was Michael settled into race rhythm, slowly a thought begins to build in his mind, “I was there about to get ready for the start, the Usher asked me for a photo, I stopped, I stood there but they did not take the photo”.  Again and again, he dwells on this thought during the race, then oops! crash bang, “I’ve taken Damon out, oops! Sorry!”

“Oh YES, I’m world champion, I bet that Usher is really pissed now knowing his mate did not take that photo with me, now F1 World Champion”.

Wikipedia’s account Schumacher Hill incident:

Schumacher took the lead at the start, with Hill second behind him.  The order remained the same until lap 36.  Hill was catching Schumacher when the Benetton driver went off the track at the East Terrace corner, hitting a wall with his right side wheels before pulling back onto the track.  Hill had rounded the fifth corner of the track when Schumacher pulled across the track ahead of him to the left. At the next corner, Hill attempted to pass Schumacher; the two collided when Schumacher turned in. Schumacher was eliminated on the spot.

Hill attempted to continue the race and pitted immediately, but retired from the race with irreparable damage to the car’s front left suspension wishbone. As neither driver scored, Schumacher took the title.

Schumacher was blamed for the incident by many Formula One insiders.  Subsequently, the race stewards judged it as a racing incident and took no action against Schumacher. 

Schumacher, at age 25 was Germany’s first Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion, but under highly controversial circumstances, although no action was ever taken against him. 

The race was won by Nigel Mansell, the 31st and final Grand Prix victory of his career, his only F1 victory on a street circuit.

1995

Wikipedia:

The 1995 Australian Grand Prix (officially the LX EDS Australian Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 12 November 1995 at the Adelaide Street Circuit, Adelaide. The race, contested over 81 laps, was the seventeenth and final race of the 1995 Formula One season, and the eleventh and last Australian Grand Prix to be held at Adelaide before the event moved to Melbourne the following year. This would also prove to be the last Grand Prix for Mark Blundell, Bertrand Gachot, Roberto Moreno, Taki Inoue, and Karl Wendlinger.

In a race of attrition, all the front-running cars retired except for the pole-sitting Williams-Renault of Damon Hill. Hill won by two clear laps, only the second time this had been achieved in Formula One history. Ligier-Mugen-Honda driver Olivier Panis was second, with Gianni Morbidelli achieving his best-ever F1 result with third in a Footwork-Hart. Of the 23 drivers who started, only eight finished, the lowest number in the 1995 season. As of 2022, this is the last time the race winner lapped every other competitor.

The Grand Prix had a record attendance of 520,000 during the weekend, with 210,000 on race day, a Formula One record until 2000 when 250,000 people attended that year’s United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

‘Adelaide was Alive’ for those four days, each of the eleven years 1985 -1995.

The event was such a buzz, like that first time an Air Force jet did a ground-level fly-over, the noise, the sheer mind boggling surprise, exhilaration, something to be experienced, just like the event as a whole, so much to take in, so much to experience, so much to appreciate,

“Adelaide Alive,”

 “Going All the Way”. 

Thanks, Colin for nominating me.

Japanese  photographers developing colour film utilizing the phone booths in the corridor outside the media workroom, leading to the Canteen

With the Media-center repositioned from outside the Track the new location was above the F1 Pit area, up a steep set of stairs. The new facility was much larger than the old area, and our role as security had more doors to monitor, however, we were closer to the action within the Media Centre.

The Media Centre staff were a very professional and competent group managing all the inquiries and need of the media International and local with good humor and efficiency. They were the connection between the FIA (Federation of Internationale Motorsport) and the local promotors staging the race.

An area now amalgamated within the Centre, for radio and television commentators to commentate ‘Live’ from the Race-start to end. This was a room further back within the Centre, furnished with rows of tables, with a telephone on each, facing large TV sets streaming the on-track telecasts. I had been placed in the corridor outside the door into the commentator’s workroom. Adjacent to a Fire door that leads out to the Corporate boxes positioned over the Pits on Pit straight. My task was to stop unauthorized people from entering the Media center and in the event of a fire usher people from the Corporate Box area through the center out into the paddock behind the Pits.

Well, the Team, named that post ‘Outer Mongolia’,” not quite Outter Siberia!” For a chap having a difficult time coping with the Pricks at the Prix, I was relieved to be in an important area with less contact with the public, there was an in-house TV that could be seen from my position showing what was happening on the Track, no audio but very interesting.

This area was quiet but it had its moments, the one moment that was an experience to behold. An event in the life of a Commentator that I had not had the privilege or experience was to happen with a BANG. At the start of the F1 race on Sunday at 2 pm, there was an eruption of what seemed a thousand voices yelling at the top of their range in a number of different languages and accents, as the commentators for the many world motor racing countries broadcast the Race to the World and beyond.

Fall off your chair! What is that, what’s going on? Is it an earthquake? It was an explosion of enthusiasm, the pent-up emotional pressure of the F1, an end-of-season emotional crescendo.

Relax your safe out here

1991 Elle McPherson was there driving in a celebrity race, along with signing jackets and  memorabilia

The signed Jacket Elle and Ayrton

The podium ceremony only had Ayrton Senna first and Gerhard Berger second Nigel Mansell third and was sent to hospital after the injuries he sustained in his crash on lap 16. 1991 the rain caused the Race to be stopped short.

Post-race interview Ayrton Senna stated, “I don’t think that was a race, it was just a matter of staying on the circuit, and there was no point to try to go quick at all. It was impossible! We had a race, a very bad one, here a couple of years ago and then was impossible and today was even worse! There was even more water on the back straight”. Wikipedia source

George Harrison walked into the area behind the pits, asking for an Autograph from Gerhard Berger, with others commenting.

1991 Elle walks through behind the Pits, such a lovely day.

1993 Behind the Pits Looking South Photo by Alan (looking Tyered!)

1995 Behind the Pits Looking South Photo by Alan

1995 Behind the Pits Looking North Photo by Alan

Arriving at the Track early we would be set up and ready to go when the Race fans and Media people started arriving. Our first location was in the Betting Ring area of Victoria Park, just inside the Kensington round about the Eastern side of the Track. The gate was for the Media and Corporate box ticket holders. All other spectators were to be directed to another gate further along. The task was fun most people entering were in a lively excited mood. Later in the day was to be even more fun as spectators began to move around the Track, people with a Gold pass could go anywhere and they were keen to see it all. Those spectators leaving the track via the Media gate were told as they were leaving that they could not come back in. “What I got a Gold ticket I can go anywhere and come and go as I please”. No No, you can’t come back in! “What, I’ve got a Gold pass” No No you can’t come back in. One of our team was so keen to do the job well, too well! But, No! I would step in and inform them, they can come back in, in any other gate but this gate.

Talk about confusion, this first year was a learning curve for us all, spectators, staff, media, and the international community that made up the F1 event community. I had a great time, being part of the event and would do it all again, when 1985 comes again!

Memorabilia, the stuff I kept to remind me, spark a memory.

Art by STONIE to advertise a BBQ the Thursday evening 1991

Did I mention the support races, they were as good as any racing, the cars Classics, Super tourers, Porsche Cup, Formula Holden (in 1989 when I joined TAFE, TAFE Croydon Park was racing a car built by the students enrolled in a program to provide the education program for skills for employment in the Motor racing field). In 1990 the TAFE car (Shrike) driven by Mark Poole had a real opportunity of winning the Formula Hoden Championship. Also in the support paddock was a Team from the Motor Trades there to provide competitors with a repair service for damage and repairs required to enable the cars to continue competing.

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