Adelaide Motorsport Festival: A degustation of race cars

FIFTY+SA sat down to chat with the Director of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and The Adelaide Rally, Tim Possingham.

Adelaide’s Tim Possingham has been involved in the motorsport industry for his entire career, and with an impressive track pedigree—both of his parents raced cars—one might expect he grew up loving motor racing by default, but this isn’t actually the case. It took a beaten-up Mini that he had to repair himself at 16 years old to pique his interest further than being dragged along to motorsport events, and perhaps a little of the racing DNA in his veins. 

We sat down to chat with the Director of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and The Adelaide Rally to talk about all things AMF as it arrives in the Festival City right in the middle of Mad-March.

Tell us about your history and passion for cars. 

Both my parents raced cars and I used to get dragged away to go to motor racing events when I was a kid. I mostly wanted to just venture off into the paddocks with friends and we’d go just be young boys and try to catch rabbits and do all kinds of things.

I wasn’t really interested in cars. But when I was 16, I was a beaten-up Leyland Mini and that was my car to get around in. I started to work on that myself, and I was, I suppose, self-taught. So anything I needed doing on the car, I would just buy the manuals and I had to repair the car. And it was only then that I actually started to gain an interest in cars. 

So I wasn’t interested in the motor racing that my parents were taking me to whatsoever. But it must have been some sort of, I don’t know what you call it, there’s a word for it, but I must have absorbed some of it somehow. And, certainly got the DNA for it.

What is the Adelaide Motorsport Festival going to look like in its long-awaited return in 2023? 

Formula 1’s definitely going through a resurgence. It’s always been extremely popular, but it’s pretty stratospheric at the moment. So for us and the fact that we have that Formula 1 history here in Adelaide, bringing back old Formula 1 cars that once raced on the track is a priority for us.

We are definitely bringing in some exciting cars from overseas. They’re iconic cars that are some of the cars that won races here or were on the front of the grid here, so that’s the main focus. 

But at the same time, the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and why it’s so successful is, it’s super diverse. You’ll see about 280 different cars on the track.

It quite literally is like going to be a degustation where there are just little tasty bites that keep you interested the whole way along the line rather than the same boring content. That’s the secret for our event.

What do you think makes South Australia such a good destination for rallies, racing and large-scale motorsport events?

The main thing that we have here, the X factor, in Adelaide that doesn’t exist anywhere else, probably on the face of the earth, is that we have a capital city that we think of as a big country town. But Adelaide still is actually quite a large city.

Within 600 metres of the centre of the CBD, we have got a racing track that has Grand Prix history that is in a beautiful park-like setting. It is within walking distance of places like the East End and shops and restaurants and things like that. That just doesn’t exist anywhere else.

How will the Mad-March timing positively impact the event? 

The fact that we’re running the week before the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix. That’s the perfect timing. We have got the Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix the week before. So there’s a whole heap of people that need to get from Saudi Arabia to Melbourne. And they’ve got two weeks to do it. So they go look, well, why don’t we go to this thing in Adelaide first?

Everyone’s looking for how they can cluster things together to get more bang for their buck. So that is definitely working in respect to the Fringe being the week after it finishes.

AMF is looking to the future of motorsport. Tell us a bit about the e-motion zone.  

The e-motion zone is something we’re pretty excited about. You’ll see some displays in there from charging networks and people have got solar, backup solar systems for homes and battery backup because, let’s face it, everything’s moving really quickly.

We want people to come to the event going, “you know what? I’m thinking about getting an electric car.” We want them to come to the event and go into that zone and learn about what’s rapidly approaching and, in some cases, what’s already here. So they’ll learn about all of the current offerings from the manufacturers and charging your vehicle and how you can integrate it into your home.

Can you give us some recommendations for some not-to-be-missed events across the Festival for car lovers?

We do this thing every year where we run Formula 1 cars through the streets. It’s called the Peak Hour of Power. We literally shut down city streets for about three minutes whilst police escort Formula 1 cars straight through the city to a street party.

This year we’ll be taking the cars through to the East End on the Friday night. Where you get to see the cars before the weekend starts. It’s got a really festive vibe and people get to see the cars that close and hear them. But they’ll also get to have dinner and, we’ll have DJs and music and street performers. A party to kick the weekend off.

You just can’t go past the Formula 1 cars, they’re one of the highest rating things. In our paddock area where all of the cars are, you can get right up close to them. 

Tell us about some of the off-track activities on offer.

AMF isn’t just about the cars. We want people to turn up at an area in the event and go, “Ooh, that looks really interesting.” It’s not boring. Everything’s meant to be interesting, usually with another experience attached to it. 

I’d encourage people to look further into the food and wine offerings that we got there. 

We’ve obviously got things like different car clubs on display and even just checking out all of the luxury brands like Mercedes, Lamborghini, McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Audi. They have all these luxury trackside villas. And there’s a bit of glamour attached to that. 

How will the festivities compare to the motorsport street parties of old?

The reason why we’ve moved it to the East End is that we want to reenact driving the whole original circuit. So if we happen to bring back some drivers we want them to drive that original circuit. And I want that car to circulate that same route. And it’s just, there’s something about that, about reenacting history. Although that will be done at a far lower speed and with a police escort.

Adelaide Motorsport Festival

24-26 March 2023

Victoria Park, Adelaide


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