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Desert400

Desert 400 2006

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I just got this Scalextric version of Craig Lowndes' Falcon from an extremely helpful dealer down your way. Used but plenty good enough for me - no qualms about putting a 'collectible' on the track.

 

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Which reminds me, I hadn't explained my Auslot forum name properly. I used to work at the Bahrain circuit and the annual visit of the V8s for the Desert 400 was the highlight of the year. I worked at the race in 2006-07, missed 08 due to being back in the UK but was in place for the final outing in 2010. I've got a set of pictures from behind the scenes at the 2006-07 races that I hope you might enjoy. I know that the overseas races got a lot of stick - justifiable on some counts - but a lot of effort went in to getting things right and a lot of good times were had.

 

Here's SBR setting up shop after the cars were unloaded. I've known JC since Formula Ford days so it was nice to see a friendly face. As ever, he takes life in his stride and wasn't all that fussed by the new surroundings.

 

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Here was a sure sign that we're not in Kansas now, Dorothy - rebranding the Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam cars. You can drink in Bahrain, but it's just best to be discreet about it. In eight years of working with the circuit we had one complaint about alcohol advertising at the race - from an English woman who'd converted and married a local guy. Still, I think it's pretty cool that we had unique cars - especially the Chevrolet branded cars in 2007.

 

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Miss V8 had to cover up a bit more than usual as well. Ah, well...

 

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This bloke turned up in the Safety Car.

 

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This is my colleague Freddie going out and finding the right team staff to go and talk to throughout the event. Being the only single white female involved in motor racing on the island, it made life much easier for her to go and ask if we needed the teams to do anything. Can't think why.

 

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One thing that Bahrain leads the way in for F1 is entertainment for the paying public. In fact, one of the reasons why the grandstands look a bit empty on the F1 coverage is that people only go to the races to be seen to be at the races, and would much rather be spending time with the family watching live entertainment or shopping, smoking shisha pipes and cramming in the calories. However I think they blew the budget on F1 that year, because the only vaguely Australian-orientated entertainment was this fella - I still have no idea what he was up to.

 

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A bit more cultural exchange. If this little guy was on the grid then it probably means he's a royal and due deference is required, rather than pointing at the 'Over 18s only' notice.

 

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And a local grid girl. Just don't look at the grandstand. Please. Oh, all right then.

 

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Now, a word about the crowds. In the first year they were not big but that was sort-of to be expected. Formula 1 had started small in 2004, got smaller in 2005 and then we did a three-month campaign of cultural and community events, brought in all the jamboree in the public areas and the concerts and so on and suddenly shifted about 80% of available seats. We did all right with the V8s despite not having a fraction of the promotion and a lot of people were watching the curious Aboriginal performers and the stilt walkers in kangaroo suits and eating Dairy Queen rather than the on-track action. But there's no way that we could say it was a vast crowd... right up until I was sent forth to the Media Centre with the agreed crowd figure of 30,000. The sort of sledging I was subjected to on that one hasn't been seen since the days of Merv Hughes but it was all in good spirit.

 

I haven't got any photos of when the drivers all went off to fly kestrels and ride camels and do all the other tourist schtick for the press. After doing it with every single visiting series it becomes a bit ho-hum, but I will say that while all the guys were enormously helpful, huge hats-off to John Bowe - it's always the same with touring cars, whether V8s or DTM or BTCC, the old stagers are the ones who do the off-track work with fans and media with more grace than anyone else in motor sport. Our other star performers for off-track requests were Jason Richards and Paul Morris, who spent most of the weekend hanging out with us rather than doing their day jobs. The FPR team couldn't do enough to help us (well, Freddie!) and Jason Bargwanna took over DJ'ing on the breakfast radio show for a few minutes. Great fun. There were of course one or two who didn't want to get involved in the cultural exchange or help promote their sport. An Aussie mate of mine living in Qatar flew in to attend the race, bumped into his hero in the public area but got sent off with a flea in his ear when asking for a signature on the $150 shirt he'd just bought... go figure.

 

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And so on to the races - these are the best shots I have of Jason Bright's day to enter the story books as the inaugural winner.

 

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We had plenty of great racing going on, for once you could see some real overtaking in Bahrain and with cars four-wide at times it was a hoot. Oh yes - and this happened.

 

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All in all it was a great weekend - one of my favourites in 24 years of doing this sort of stuff. At the end of it all we had a semi-official 'after party' in the one vaguely presentable nightclub downtown. For those that stayed the course until closing time, there was also a much less presentable nightclub down the road that would stay open until the last person left. The following morning some suitably refreshed veterans of the inaugural Desert 400 - circuit staff, media and team members - stepped out into the sunshine, shook hands and looked forward to doing it all again next year before staggering off to enjoy the sleep of the virtuous. I'll post 2007 soon unless you're all bored...

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That was a fabulous post - and really timely with 'Retro' Sandown this weekend. Please feel free to post more insights and pictures...


Cheers,

 

Tony.

 

There's only two questions:

 

1. What direction do you go

2. What's the Lap Record?

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Enjoyed the write up, more please


2019 NZ RTR Nationals Gt 3rd

2017 NZ RTR Nationals NSR Classic 2nd

2017 NZ RTR Nationals Group C 3rd

2017 NSR Classic Challenge 3rd

2015 NSR Classic Challenge 2nd

2014 NSR Classic Challenge 3rd

2015 Garden City Invitation Overall Champion

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Well written and great pics.

Thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Thanks

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Thank you guys glad you enjoyed it. I'll dig out 2007 shortly. Kicking myself not to have got more/any usable shots in 2010 as well.

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