Mainly to see a TCR event, last weekend my wife and I flew to Melbourne from Perth to attend the Shannons Nationals meeting at Sandown Park. We took a couple of extra days to be tourists in Melbourne CBD, and took trains to and from Sandown Park.
I had not previously been aware of the Shannons Nationals as they do not include WA in the series, understandably because it is run as a "low cost" series, and travelling to WA just isn't feasible. The other thing I learnt, is that CAMS themselves run these meetings, not just oversee the local club as is usual. In my opinion, CAMS have done a great job in providing a platform for some minor categories to compete in a "national" series without the full commercialisation of the big promoted race meetings.
As we were making this fairly long trip, we decided to purchase tickets to the Morris Finance Drivers Club, basically a corporate area also run by CAMS, partly in case the weather turned nasty we would be in relative comfort. It was a good decision, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a bit better than hanging over the fence and queuing for hamburgers, especially if one has flown in with no capacity for taking chairs, lunch, etc. The 3 day ticket was $250 (so roughly $85 per day) which covered gate entry, seating behind glass at the top of the grandstand, tea/coffee all day, morning tea and lunch served, and also grid walks for the TCR and S5000 race starts, good value we both agreed after spending 3 days watching motor racing in relative comfort.
The racing was good, I found the TCR races to be as good as I expected, they have great noise and look fast. They had 17 cars on track, and are expecting 25-30 next year, which will make for fantastic racing.
The S5000 class debut on this weekend was a bonus, as it was not something I expected to see. The other classes racing were Production Cars, Endurance sports cars, Porsches, and Super3 V8s, but my main interest was the TCRs and in particular the Renault Meganes, which got a podium in one race, and went ok but not at the front of the field. They are still in development so hopefully more to come.
Earlier today, the Monday after the meeting, I teamed up with old mate KenFuego and we visited the GRM faciliity where the Renault TCRs are maintained and where the S5000 cars have been manufactured, with many in-house components, Australian made Holinger transaxles, and imported composite chassis tubs and Ford 5 litre engines.
Photos of the weekend in this album: