Why Pirtek Perth Supernight exceeded all expectations
With the curtain falling on the Pirtek Perth Supernight the time came to reflect on another Supercar event from one of the most longest standing tracks in Australia. I have been attending the ATCC / V8 Supercar / Supercar event at Barbagallo since 1992. I only missed 2010 when the organisation did not attend Western Australian for a myriad of reasons. After many years racing during daylight hours the Supercar category has dipped the toe in the water for night racing.
Racing at night time is not new for Barbagallo Raceway with Night Masters series commencing in the early 90's. Here we have seen some incredible racing from the likes of Tony Ricciardello, Paul Stubber and Grant Johnson just to name a few. That said, a new level of experience was reached on the weekend with the sports administrative body exceeding most peoples expectation of what night racing could deliver.
To start with the support categories were top rate. The Historic Touring Cars had everyone on the edge of their seats. In many ways my only criticism would be to place the HTC in the hour gap after the Super 2 and prior to the Supercars. Aldo De Paoli in his 1969 Camaro had the crowd warmed up hotter than his left rear tyre as he slid his car from last to first in a reverse grid 40 second staggered start. We were also treated to a super competitive Super 2 race on both days and felt these guys held their own in the twilight part of the day.
The Australian GT Series is always a crowd favourite and worked well in having a race prior and after the big show. I think we will see an increase in field numbers for the GT series in the coming years if FTA televising becomes a permanent fixture for this event. Surely the sound of a V10 5.2Lt Lamborghini is a welcome change after 80 minutes of 7500rpm small block V8's?
The show that everyone came for did not disappoint on both nights. With all drivers being announced on cue as they made their way to the grid, anticipation was certainly building. In Australia, sporting events seem to reach a new level of excitement and anticipation in the evening. Cricket, AFL, A-League, Drag Racing and Speedway are all good examples of this and the Perth SuperNight did not disappoint. As it would unfold, the DJR Penske Mustangs led the way but to be honest, I don't think many people cared who won. The winner was having an alternate to a night time sporting event in Perth. Given the Supercars were going head to head with the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium it was always going to be a big task. We should not compare the two but given the 31,160 over three days at Barbagallo (up 23% on last year) and the unusually poor numbers at the footy, it is hard to deny that it was a win for the internal combustion engine.
Shows like this don't come without hard work. Pirtek chief executive Stephen Dutton came on board as major sponsor of the event and the Labor Government of WA should also be attributed in its success, in particular, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia who saw the benefit of backing this event. We should also remember the hard work from the WA Sporting Car Club and their long list of volunteers who make this event possible.
The event had a feel of a carnival and there is nothing better than watching the glow of the brakes into turn one to excite the crowd. We just need the engineers to turn up the fuel mix and get some longer flames out of the pipes on the down shifts. Perhaps the fuel burn is of more importance and Mark Dutton and Ryan Story would suggest leaving the pyrotechnics to the fireworks on the back straight? Either way the Perth SuperNight is a major success and one we can not wait to see again.