Insight Motorsport News


SOUTH AUSTRALIA gave Australia its first taste of proper Formula One racing, and the state retains a deep love for the sport as a result. More than a dozen F1 cars reside in the state, with 7 genuine Formula One cars making their presence felt at the 2020 The Bend Classic.

WORDS: Richard Craill IMAGES: Frank Hodak & Richard Craill

EACH car has a fascinating history, many of them with AGP starts to their credit.

Here’s a rundown of the Formula One cars present at the 2020 event; a classic era celebrated in style, and one that’s only likely to get bigger as the annual event grows.

1968 Repco-Brabham BT26

ONE of the final ever spaceframe Formula One cars, this Brabham BT26 was Sir Jack’s last F1 car with the famous Repco powerplant; the team would adopt the more reliable, more powerful, ubiquitous Cosworth DFV engine a year later.

This particular car finished 5th in the 1968 German Grand Prix, Brabham’s only finish of that season.

The car, Chassis 1, was sold to Frank Williams Racing Cars for the 1969 season where, now converted to Cosworth power like much of the field, it proved effective in the hands of the very fast Piers Courage. He finished second in the Monaco Grand Prix that year, and in the same position later in the year in Canada.

The car was then sold to South Africa, where it raced two further South African Grands Prix: The 1970 race driven by Piet de Klerk and the 1971 race at Kyalami by Jackie Pretorius.

The car remained in South Africa but made no further notable Grand Prix starts.

The car was salvaged by Chris Kean several years ago and completed a ground-up restoration earlier this year, making its public debut at the Adelaide 500. The car was restored to Brabham’s 1968 specification – despite Williams apparent wishes for it to be represented in 1969 specification – which included a return to the four-cam Repco engine, of which not many are around these days.

A stunning car, beautifully restored and back in Aussie hands.

1985 Toleman TG185 Hart

Ahh, the turbo era! The Toleman TG185 was a neat and tidy Rory Byrne-designed car powered by the 1.5-litre Hart turbo four.

It gave Toleman their one and only pole position (at the Nurburgring) however proved to be unreliable with main driver Teo Fabi finishing just two races the whole season.

Of course, the 185 would prove to be the last Toleman, the team purchased by Benetton that year before being completely re-branded a year later.

This was a Teo Fabi car and is now Adelaide-based, prepared by the same crew who look after the LC87 Lola seen in front of it here.

Unfortunately, at The Bend Classic the car lived up to it’s reputation and after running quickly on Friday, promptly broke: unable to run for the remainder of the event. Regardless, it remains a very pretty example of the classic 80’s era F1 and another genuine article still regularly demonstrated at speed.

1986 Benneton B186 BMW

With its 1400 horsepower BMW 1.5 litre turbocharged engine, the B186 was the first car branded Benetton, after the clothing firm purchased Toleman the year prior.

Designed by Rory Byrne, the car was potent and in the hands of Gerhard Berger won the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix, and scored a further podium finish at Imola.

This particular car was driven by Berger in the ’86 season and has become a staple on Aussie circuits, well driven by Josh Kean.

The car was a regular at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival – and for a time held the lap record – and currently is the fastest ever car around Baskerville Raceway following a series of incredible duels with Jason White in a Can Am car at the Historic event there a few years ago.

Probably the most driven F1 car in Australia in the last decade, the car is currently undergoing repairs at the Kean family workshop in Adelaide and as such did not partake in The Bend Classic – but it definitely is one.

1987 Lola Larrousse LC87 Cosworth

PRETTY in deep blue and deep red, the LC87 was Larrousse’s first F1 car, built by Lola for the brand new French team and steered by Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas that season.

With Cosworth DFZ power, the car proved reasonably effective: Eighth on debut with Alliot at San Marino (the team missed the first round), the car scored points on three occasions that season and also helped Larrousse finish second in the Colin Chapman Trophy, for normally aspirated cars.

This particular car has been in Adelaide since 2008, and came via the United States where it was a regular on the Historic racing / F1 scene. This author remembers the car arriving at a local race team, complete with an itemised receipt for a completely rebuilt Cosworth engine from the manufacturer themselves.. and a large dollar sign at the end!

This car was a Philippe Alliot car from the 1987 championship.

1988 Lola Larrousse LC88 Cosworth

ERIC BROADLEY’s upgrade of the LC87 took the form of the LC88, which started life with DFZ Cosworth power in 1988 before receiving Lamborghini’s V12 the following year.

The car failed to score points as the team battled through financial issues and while Yannick Dalmas was able to complete a majority of the season, before being bumped for the final two races; several drivers rotated through in his place, including Aguri Suzuki and Pierre-Henri Raphanel, who failed to qualify in Adelaide.

This particular car was raced by Philippe Alliot for the full season and started the Australian Grand Prix. It was classified 10th at the finish, though ran out of fuel and technically didn’t cross the line.

This is a stunning car and now owned by Brenton Griguol – and featured in the below video produced by TRT several years ago.

1989 BMS Scuderia Italia Dallara F189 Cosworth.

DALLARA’s involvement in Formula One is often forgotten, but it produced a series of very competitive cars for the small Italian BMS team in the 1980s, including the F189. Powered by the 3.5-litre DFR Cosworth V8, the car proved quite effective in the 1989 season.

Though he was relegated to pre-qualifying for the first half of the year, Alex Caffi scored points on two occasions, including fourth in Monaco and Sixth in Canada.

Joining the team for the first time, Andrea De Cesaris went even better by finishing on the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix, in third place.

This particular car was driven by the Italian in the Australian Grand Prix that year, and qualified ninth. Running as high as third before the early-race red flag, the car ultimately found the fence on Brabham straight (So did Senna, so it wasn’t unusual that year).

This car ended up in South Africa in the hands of Andre Bezuidenhout, who ran the car regularly including to victory in the famous Simola hillclimb.

He brought the car to Australia for the Adelaide Motorsport Festival, where it later remained for a full rebuild in the hands of Team BRM, who had run the car for the South African at the event.

Ultimately the car remained in South Australia and, after finding a passion for open-wheel cars well into his driving career, was purchased by Sam Shahin and used to win the 2020 The Bend Classic Shootout.

1994 Footwork FA15 Cosworth

THE ALAN JENKINS-designed FA15 was a handy F1 car in the 1994 Formula One season and exemplifies the design of the period: Low, narrow nose, big front and rear wings and swooping engine cover. Arguably, one of F1’s most iconic periods, especially to Aussie fans.

Raced by Christian Fittipaldi and Gianni Morbidelli, the car scored points on four occasions, including both cars at the German Grand Prix that year.

This particular car was raced by Christian Fittipaldi that season and finished 8th in the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide.

It is now owned by the Kean family and holds the outright lap record on The Bend Motorsport Park’s West Circuit. The car raced in Europe before coming to Australia, and remains in that livery rather than it’s distinctive 1994 scheme.

2001 Orange Arrows A22 Asiatech

AN Evolution of the rather effective Mike Coughlan-designed A21 of the year prior, the A22 was an evolution of the previous car but traded Supertec (Renault) V10’s for the Asiatech (ex-Peugeot V10) power unit that year.

Sadly for Arrows though almost impossibly good looking, the car was also both not as fast as it’s predecessor and also not as reliable. Though Jos Verstappen got plenty out of the car – including finishing 6th in a memorable drive in Austria, running second in the rain in Malaysia for a time and crashing Juan Montoya out of the Brazilian GP the same year – his teammate Bernoldi was not quite so successful.

This car is owned by the Kean family and is in an ongoing state of repair and upgrade back to fully operational condition. It now runs a Hart V10, but the custom Arrows gearbox and the electronics, plus the 2500psi air-actuated valve system, has proven tricky. But when it runs, it will be a fully-fledged V10 Formula One car lapping aussie circuits and it could just be the fastest car in the country when it does.

This car was a Jos Verstappen chassis from the 2001 season.