1978 Australian Grand Prix
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|Round 2 of the 1978 Australian Drivers' Championship|
|Date||10 September 1978|
|Official name||XLIII Australian Grand Prix|
|Location||Sandown International Motor Racing Circuit, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||3.100 km (1.926 mi)|
|Distance||49 laps, 148.8 km (92.448 mi)|
The 1978 Australian Grand Prix was a motor race open to cars complying with Australian Formula 1, (commonly referred to as Formula 5000 cars). It was held on 10 September 1978 at the Sandown International Motor Racing Circuit, in Victoria, Australia.
John McCormack started on pole in his McLaren M23 alongside Kiwi Graham McRae in his own designed and built McRae GM3, complete with a unique clear perspex cockpit cover allowing people to see McRae at work in the car. Before the start McCormack's crew discovered in the warm up that a blown head gasket in qualifying had resulted in damage to the 5.0L Leyland's cylinder heads but had no time to replace it so McCormack started under a cloud. Vern Schuppan qualified his Ansett Team Elfin MR8 3rd with a time equal to that of McRae with the Lola's of Alan Hamilton and Jon Davison rounding out the top 5 qualifiers.
Ian Adams did not practice in his Lola T330, but was permitted to start the race from the rear of the grid.
McRae won the start and was never headed despite slowing on the start/finish line for confirmation of a 'bad sportsmanship' flag for not slowing enough past Coopers crash on lap 22, and a spin at the Dandenong Road corner (turn 7 on the old circuit) on lap 32. During the time of Cooper's crash alone McRae extended his lead over Jon Davison and Vern Schuppan by more than half the length of the almost 1 km long front straight as others slowed for the yellow flags where McRae didn't resulting in the bad sportmanship flag for McRae.
McRae won the 49 lap race by two laps from John Briggs driving an older model Matich A51 Repco-Holden, with Peter Edwards in a Lola T332 finishing 3rd. McRae's fastest race lap of 1:01.9 (average speed of 180.29 km/h or 112 mph) was also the fastest lap of the race.
The race was marred by several crashes with two drivers taken to hospital. On lap 22 Garrie Cooper broke some ribs and badly broke his leg in a 250kmh crash at Rothmans Rise on the back straight, completely destroying his self-designed Elfin MR8 in the process. Cooper's simple explanation of the crash was that "something broke" sending him sliding sideways along the old fence that separated the race track from the horse track. Five laps later, his 3rd placed team mate Vern Schuppan had tangled with the ex-Alan Jones Lola T332 of 2nd placed Jon Davison in turn 1 and had to retire with damage leaving both Ansett Team Elfin cars with heavy damage. The crash also saw Davison retire with his car with terminal damage just moments later at Holden Corner (turn 2). Then with only 3 laps left, Alan Hamilton badly crashed his Lola T430 into the old Dunlop Bridge coming through the high speed causeway onto the main straight. The car crashed into the base of the bridge and was torn in two with Hamilton's body exposed at the front of the car while he was still strapped to his seat (thankfully this time drivers heeded the yellow flags and proceeded slowly through the scene as Hamilton and what was left of his car had bounced back onto the race track). Hamilton was unconscious and was taken to hospital with minor head injuries and some broken bones but went on to make a full recovery.
|Pos ||No ||Driver ||Car ||Entrant ||Qual ||Gap |
|1||1||John McCormack||McLaren M23 / Leyland 5.0L V8||J McCormack||1:00.9||—|
|2||2||Graham McRae||McRae GM3 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Thomson Motor Auctions||1:01.3||+0.4|
|3||11 ||Vern Schuppan||Elfin MR8 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Ansett Team Elfin||1:01.3||+0.4|
|4||19||Alan Hamilton||Lola T430 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Porsche Cars Australia||1:02.0||+1.1|
|5||24||Jon Davison||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Ranger Truck Rentals||1:02.3||+1.4|
|6||10||Chris Milton||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Shellsport||1:03.3||+2.4|
|7||3||Kevin Bartlett||Brabham BT43 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Thomson Motor Auctions||1:03.5||+2.6|
|8||40||Chas Talbot||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||C Talbot||1:04.0||+3.1|
|9||15||Terry Hook||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||T Hook||1:04.7||+3.8|
|10||84||Alfredo Costanzo||Lola T400B Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Auto Sprint Motors||1:04.8||+3.9|
|11||33||John Briggs||Matich A51 Repco Holden 5.0L V8||John Roberts Motors Pty Ltd||1:04.8||+3.9|
|12||5||Peter Middleton||Elfin MR5 Repco Holden 5.0L V8||P Middleton||1:07.0||+6.1|
|13||12||Garrie Cooper||Elfin MR8 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Ansett Team Elfin||1:09.1||+8.2|
|14||21||Peter Edwards||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Shellsport||1:10.2||+9.3|
|15||98||Barry Singleton||Chevron B24 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Barry Singleton Motors Pty Ltd||1:12.2||+11.3|
|16||4||Gary Dumbrell||McRae GM1 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Wynne's Friction Proof Racing||1:12.7||+11.8|
|17||34||Colin Trengrove||Lola T330 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Trengrove Racing Cars||1:22.7||+21.8|
|18||14||Bronwyn Taylor||Matich A50 Repco Holden 5.0L V8||Bronwyn Taylor||1:39.3||+38.4|
|19||18||Ian Adams||Lola T330 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||I Adams||DNP|
|Pos ||No ||Driver ||Car ||Entrant ||Laps ||Time |
|1||2||Graham McRae||McRae GM3 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Thomson Motor Auctions||49||52m 45.2s|
|2||33||John Briggs||Matich A51 Repco Holden 5.0L V8||John Roberts Motors Pty Ltd||47|
|3||21||Peter Edwards||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Shellsport||45|
|4||5||Peter Middleton||Elfin MR5 Repco Holden 5.0L V8||P Middleton||43|
|5||3||Kevin Bartlett||Brabham BT43 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Thomson Motor Auctions||42|
|6||18||Ian Adams||Lola T330 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||I Adams||39|
|7||15||Terry Hook||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||T Hook||37|
|Ret||19||Alan Hamilton||Lola T430 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Porsche Cars Australia||46||Accident|
|Ret||98||Barry Singleton||Chevron B24 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Barry Singleton Motors Pty Ltd|
|Ret||24||Jon Davison||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Ranger Truck Rentals||27||Accident|
|Ret||11 ||Vern Schuppan||Elfin MR8 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Ansett Team Elfin||27||Accident|
|Ret||12||Garrie Cooper||Elfin MR8 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Ansett Team Elfin||22||Accident|
|Ret||10||Chris Milton||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Shellsport||18|
|Ret||40||Chas Talbot||Lola T332 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||C Talbot|
|Ret||4||Gary Dumbrell||McRae GM1 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Wynne's Friction Proof Racing|
|Ret||1||John McCormack||McLaren M23 Leyland 5.0L V8||J McCormack||6||Head Gasket|
|Ret||84||Alfredo Costanzo||Lola T400B Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Auto Sprint Motors||5||Gearbox|
|DNS||34||Colin Trengrove||Lola T330 Chevrolet 5.0L V8||Trengrove Racing Cars|
|DNS||14||Bronwyn Taylor||Matich A50 Repco Holden 5.0L V8||B Taylor|
- Pole Position: John McCormack - 1:00.9 
- Fastest lap: Graham McRae - 1:01.9 
- Winner's average speed: 172.76 km/h (107.35 mph) 
Post Race Exhibition
After the race, McRae was awarded the Lex Davison Trophy for winning from five time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, stating in his short victory speech that he never thought he would ever get to meet Mr Fangio and that he believed it was a greater honour than having won his 3rd AGP. Following this Fangio, Australia's three time world champion, Jack Brabham, Bob Jane driving a Maserati, and former racer turned Holden dealer Bill Patterson driving a Cooper, had a spirited three lap demonstration/race with Fangio and Brabham clearing out and swapping the lead many times. Fangio was driving a Mercedes-Benz W196 that he raced in 1954 and 1955, while Brabham (not yet Sir Jack) drove the Repco V8 powered Brabham BT19 in which he won the 1966 World Championship of Drivers. Brabham 'won' the demonstration, just ahead of Fangio, with Patterson and Jane some distance behind in 3rd and 4th.
The 67-year-old Fangio had been invited to the meeting by race organiser's to demonstrate his Mercedes. However the great man stated that he would not demonstrate his World Championship winning Mercedes, he was going to race it. Fangio also intended to drive in a T-shirt like he had in his Formula One days, but had to conform to safety regulations about uncovered body parts and wore a full set of white overalls, though he was permitted to use his old goggles and Herbie Johnson racing helmet.
Despite not having raced competitively for 20 years, Juan Manuel Fangio was still the holder of a full FIA Super Licence.
The fastest lap of the demonstration was a 1:21.6 by Jack Brabham, almost 20 seconds slower than McRae's fastest lap for the Grand Prix.
- Official Souvenir Program, Sandown, September 10, 1978, page 79
- Conditions for Australian Titles, 1978 CAMS Manual of Motor Sport, pages 84 to 86
- Wilson, Stewart (1986). "1978". In Howard, Graham. The Official 50-race history of the Australian Grand Prix. Gordon, NSW: R & T Publishing. pp. 416–424. ISBN 0-9588464-0-5.
- Australian Competition Yearbook Number 8, page 96
- 1978 Australian Grand Prix - Fangio vs Brabham
1977 Australian Grand Prix
|Australian Grand Prix
1979 Australian Grand Prix