The 2017 V8 Supercar season is done and dusted for another year; however it certainly didn’t finish on the high of some other sports, where massively surprising results in 2016 took the brands of those sports to almighty new heights. The power of the ‘unpredictable’ in major sporting codes is profound.

In the AFL, the Western Bulldogs’ grand final victory was hugely popular and sparked an incredible level of media attention. It was a win for the masses, given their only other premiership was 62 years ago. Whilst the Bulldogs won the flag, the winner was really the AFL itself as the popularity meter was reset after the monotony of Hawthorn final appearances.

Same in the NRL with the Cronulla Sharks when they turned their fortunes around ‘overnight’ and recorded their first premiership ever in another dramatically popular outcome for the Rugby League code.

Also in the USA, the Chicago Cubs broke the biggest drought in sports history when they won the World Series and created never-before-seen celebrations and media hysteria.

These three examples illustrate the importance in sport of refreshing the trophy cabinet. It’s like a blood transfusion with the injection of new life and hope into the game. It provides unlimited new angles for the media to explore and increases public appeal at all levels of the game. Sport is an emotional business and routine is the enemy of emotion.

When one team dominates the results year on year, the sport becomes flat, lacking in excitement and unfortunately. it sucks the passion tank dry; fans lose interest and vote with their feet and the TV remote control. This is a very dangerous position for any sport and it’s the space Supercars has been in for some time. Nothing changed this year with yet another spectacular solo performance by Team Triple 888 and its three drivers. Shane Van Gisbergen, Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes (1st, 2nd, 4th).

Triple 888 have won seven of the past nine Championships and need to be congratulated for this outstanding feat as they constantly strive to build on all aspects of team strategy and have a plan to always keep ahead of the game. Their latest move to recruit Shane Van Gisbergen and move to three cars further strengthened their stranglehold on the Championship. However, the leaders of this sport must surely realise it is actually weakening the sport, for when Triple 888 gets stronger it has a counter-adverse impact on teams with less commercial and technical capability.

Unfortunately I see nothing our sport is doing to introduce new initiatives to even the competition. There are endless options to do this if the sport cares enough to think outside the square, like all other elite sports do.

Independence is needed in the sport. We have a situation in which the most influential person, Roland Dane, is also the owner of the team that has won seven of the last nine Championships and who has been on the Board of V8s for years. Most of these years he has claimed the ‘Premiership’.

The major changes necessary to take the sport to the next desperately needed level will only take place when the team representatives stop self-managing the Series and allow independent Commissioners to set the strategic planning and transformation agenda. I have been saying this until I am blue in the face and unless it happens you can bet the Triple 888 juggernaut will continue to dominate our sport.

Let’s look at the winners and losers of 2016

List A reflects the Top 10 for this season. Whilst Triple 888 dominated with a 1st, 2nd and 4th, it was healthy to see Davidson, Mostert, Slade and Caruso slide into the top 10 versus the prior year at the expense of Coulthard, Rick Kelly, Reynolds (dropped from 3rd to 16th) and Courtney.

List B is the concept I introduced after last year’s results that shows the Top 10 results of those drivers in teams who are not the beneficiaries of factory funding, so congratulations to the Tekno Team and Will Davidson for winning this Premiership.

List A – Official 2016 Top 10 in Championship:

1.   Shane van Gisbergen
2.   Jamie Whincup
3.   Scott Mc Laughlin
4.   Craig Lowndes
5.   Will Davidson
6.   Mark Winterbottom
7.   Chaz Mostert
8.   Tim Slade
9.   Garth Tander
10. Michael Caruso

For manufacturers it was six Holdens, two Fords, one Nissan and one Volvo.

List B – Unofficial Top 10 for those without factory funding:

1.  Will Davidson
2.  Mark Winterbottom
3.  Chaz Mostert
4.  Tim Slade
5.  Fabian Coulthard
6.  Scott Pye
7.  David Reynolds
8.  Jason Bright
9.  Nick Percat
10. Cam Waters

For the manufacturers it was five Holdens and five Fords.

It will be most interesting to see the results next year for the Walkinshaw and Garry Rogers teams as they take their place on the grid without any financial support from Holden and Volvo respectively. This will be the first time in 26 years that Holden has not provided funding for the Walkinshaw/HRT team. A fair estimation of funds injected from Holden over that period would have been in the vicinity of $80 million.

In an earlier edition at the start of the season, I challenged the motor sport media to have a crack at tipping the card for 2016. To set the right example with the ‘courage needle’ I nominated my top 26 for the year. After analysing my year end results I can understand the reluctance of the journalists to walk the plank. As my report card shows, I failed.

I tipped Jamie Whincup to win the Championship and he came second.

I tipped only two in the top five; six in the top 10 and 13 in the top 15.

The tips I got very wrong were:

• Rick Kelly for 3rd – his result was 13th
• Moffat for 9th – his result was 20th
• Coulthard for 5th – his result was 12th
• Van Gisbergen for 8th – his result was 1st
• Tim Slade for 13th – his result was 8th, and
• Scott Mc Laughlin for 12th – his result was 3rd

My accuracy levels, however, on the 15th to 26th positions reflected a solid set of predictions.

As fortune favours the brave I will again, in the first edition of this magazine next year, make my predictions and invite some journalist to join me and include their tips in the edition.

V8 Supercars must ban the burnout

At the end of the last V8 Supercar race for this season in Sydney on 4 December, the newly-crowned champion, Shane Van Gisbergen, live on national television in prime time, did a massive tyre burntout that went for at least two minutes. Then, amidst gyrating the car to extremes and generating massive levels of smoke and blackened skid marks on the bitumen, Shane emerged from the Red Bull car, jumped on the roof and pumped the air with excitement and jubilation.

Unfortunately, each race this year saw similar irresponsible burnout victory rituals, which our TV commentators seem to endorse, judging by their supporting commentary during this ‘light ‘em up’ mayhem.

By stark and ironic contrast, 15 minutes later after the race last on the 6 o’clock national news, the lead story featured more road trauma and more examples of disgraceful social behaviour with the increasing number of hoon drivers where burnouts are their trade mark ritual. It seems a weekly event that we hear from our police superintendent talking about how serious this hoon driving situation is in Victoria and I’m sure the same problem exists in other states.

The question needs to be asked whether the authorities of our sport, in particular the directors of V8 Supercars, recognise that this irresponsible hoon element have motor sport and hot cars as their core recreational interest. As such, it is a fair assumption that our sport and our drivers can have an influence on the hoons and may well be promoting this dangerous street behaviour.

If the directors of V8 Supercars don’t recognise this connection between our sport and the hoon element and ban this imbecilic and irresponsible victory behaviour, then perhaps it’s time for government and police authorities to take the action.

How great it would be for V8 Supercars to start the new season in 2017 and ban the burnout ritual. Perhaps take it one step further and at the same time work with the police and government authorities to promote responsible driving and have each of the 26 professional V8 drivers support a media campaign designed to stop hoon burnouts throughout the community, with a “WE HAVE STOPPED IT” theme.

I know I’m not a lone voice in this plea to make this crucial image change for our sport. I certainly don’t want my grandchildren seeing this hero worship nonsense on the track and TV, thinking that experimenting with such antics in a car, is acceptable.

Christmas/summer quiz

Like all sports, motor racing serves up its fair share of characters and, with that, an even higher number of nicknames. Over time the characters and their nicknames – and the reference to them in pit lane – have added a lot to the theatre and colour of this fascinating circus.

The V8 series in particular travels to every state of Australia, spending on average 40 nights a year in hotel/motel rooms, where many great stories get shared.

The quiz below covers only those nicknames totally removed from their real name. If we were to include a derivative of their given or surname the list would be need 10 pages, as it is hard to think of anyone who is anybody in the sport who has not had their real name shortened or slanged off in some way, e.g. Larko, Richo, Brockie, Toddler, Skaifey, Lowndsie, GT, Cromley, Gibbo, Gricey, Foges, Big Rev Kev.

Nicknames are not restricted to the drivers alone; the practice also applies to the engineers, mechanics and the media. I can’t think of anything more Australian than Motorsport nicknames.
The only clue to the 40 nicknames listed below (all of which are from Australian motor sport) is that the initial shown in brackets is the first letter of the surname. The quiz answers will appear in the next edition.

In addition to the nicknames below, discretion has been the better part of valour in deciding to exclude many that cross the boundaries of political correctness on sexuality, race and, in particular, physical appearance. If we had included some of these incredibly descriptive names, this page would sizzle.


John Crennan
Motorsport Contributor

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