Formula fans from all over the world know about the Australian Grand Prix. It has been a part of Formula One World Championship since the 80s, but before that, it was already established as a worthy competition. It was a part of Tasman Formula, as well as Formula 5000.
However, this still doesn’t clear up why this Grand Prix is so popular. Is it the challenging tracks or the substantial prize pool? Perhaps it is the names of winners. What made the Australian Grand Prix what it is today?
The origins of AusGP are believed to go as early as the 1920s. The first time these races were called the Australian Grand Prix is 1929, at Phillip Island in Victoria. Bugatti was the master of the tracks at the time.
After the Second World War, a rotational system was implemented, making races occur in different states. Several of the more notable victories were won by Alexander Nicholas Davidson from mid-fifties to 1961. The true revolution of the event was brought about by Jack Brabham, multiple world champion, and, later, Bruce McLaren, the race-car designer.
The Tasman Series
During the winter months between 1964 and 1975, many drivers flocked to the warmer areas to test their mettle in the Tasman Series. It was a series of races in Australia and New Zealand. The engine requirements for the Tasman series were slightly different than those of the Formula One.
The Tasman formula used 2500 cm³ engines until 1970, even after Formula One raised the stakes with 3000 cm³ engines. As Formula One grew in popularity, the Tasman series fought for survival, but ultimately gave up in 1975.
This isn’t to say that Australia had no more business or interest in Formula races. The Land Down Under made a comeback in 1985 when the Australian Grand Prix became a round in the World Championship. The Adelaide Street Circuit proved itself to be a challenge for the drivers.
Melbourne also decided they wanted a horse in the race, so, in 1996, the race changed venues. Albert Park became the new track for the World Championship, with an impressive number of spectators, around 400 000.
Names Are Brands
This event would hardly be worth mentioning, had there not been notable winners and drivers in general. Even if you are not a big Formula One fan, you should know the names of Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Mika Häkkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), Kimi Räikkönen (various teams) and Fernando Alonso (various teams). For several years, they dominated the tracks and made each other sweat.
Apart from these Formula One superstars, there are several Australian racing heroes that earned their spot in F1 history. We’ve already mentioned Lex Davidson, Jack Brabham, and Bruce McLaren, but one should not forget Bill Thompson and Graham McRae. It was because of these people that Australia became a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.