Aussie Cars in Computer Games

For many, racing video games are the opportunity to spin laps around the world’s most iconic tracks in cars they could only dream of owning. For others they want the opportunity to do burnouts throughout backstreets in a VS Commodore without having their pride and joy impounded. Fortunately for Australian gamers we’ve had and will continue to have the opportunity to do both! In this article we’ll take a look at some of the more popular video games that have featured Australian made cars over the years.

Dick Johnson V8 Challenge

The Dick Johnson V8 Challenge was the first mainstream, licensed game to feature V8 Supercars and was released in 1999 for PC. Features included four accurately modelled tracks and over 25 V8 Supercars making it quite an immersive experience for a solely Australian racing video game. While graphics don’t stack up well compared to today’s lofty standards, gameplay is impressive, providing a nice throwback to the racing of that era.

Need for Speed 3

Need for Speed 3 heralded the inclusion of the EL Ford Falcon, Ford Falcon GT and VT HSV GTS in the Need for Speed Series. It was a first for the series, as neither of the first 2 editions featured any Australian cars. By today’s standards graphics were average at best; however the game was a massive hit both in Australia and worldwide, with most key video game critics lauding the games ability to capture the intensity of car chases.

Gran Turismo Series

First making an appearance way back in 2002, the AU Falcon V8 Supercar of Glenn Seton and Neil Crompton made its way into Gran Turismo 3, a game which at the time revolutionised the racing genre on consoles. The car could be purchased for 1,500,000 in game credits or was awarded for victory in the Super Speedway Endurance Race. The first Australian car to feature in the ever-popular Gran Turismo series, the ‘Tickford Falcon XR8’ has since featured in all Gran Turismo titles alongside a host of other Australian race and production cars that have slowly been incorporated over the years. Featuring all the trademarks of V8 Supercars of the time, including noticeable over-steer as a result of the over-powered rear-wheel drive configuration, the AU was an accurate representation of touring car racing in Australia.

V8 Supercars 1, 2 and 3

Known as the Toca Racing series overseas, the V8 Supercar game took what Dick Johnson V8 Challenge started and supercharged it. By the time the third installation rolled around it featured 11 Australian V8 supercar tracks such as Mt Panorama, Eastern Creek and Surfers Paradise and the full V8 Supercar field as well as a host of international touring cars and tracks. Receiving positive reviews, the V8 Supercar Series stacked up well against gaming heavyweights Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsports.

Forza Horizon 3

Released in 2016, Forza Horizon 3 brought the fiercely popular series to Australian shores. An open world game, virtual versions of famous Australian cities and landmarks such as the Great Ocean Road, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise and the Yarra Valley provide gamers with the perfect backdrop to race or cruise to their heart’s content. The car list is as extensive as you’d expect for a Forza title, and making appearances in the game are Australian classics such as the HQ Sandman, XY GTHO Phase III Falcon and VS GTSR as well as modern day rockets the HSV Maloo and FPV Pursuit Ute. Forza Horizon 3 is the most extensive gaming representation of Australian car culture and a must play for any automotive enthusiasts remotely interested in gaming.

Do you have fond memories of spending hours behind the screen spinning laps of Mt Panorama in an Aussie car, or perhaps you’ve enjoyed wreaking havoc on Australian roads in Forza Horizon 3? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about your gaming experiences in the comment section below.

The BJR Transporter

Back in the 60s, if you went car racing, chances are you would fill your race car with everything you needed for the weekend. What you couldn’t fit would be strapped to the car somehow, before you hit the road and drove it and yourself to the race track to go racing. Oh how times have changed!

This week, we’re going to see how a modern professional V8 Supercar Race Team, and to be more precise, the Brad Jones Racing Team, moves their expensive, powerful and precious cargo around this huge country of ours to compete in the fiercely competitive series.

Team BOC’s "B-Double" transporter will typically travel about 50,000km per year. This amount of travel in this behemoth of a truck won’t get you much change from $100,000 in running costs alone.

Up front and pulling the total load of about 58 tonnes is the Freightliner Argosy prime mover. At $375,000 new, the Argosy needs to deliver and fortunately, it does in spades. It gives drivers all the creature comforts needed for long days on the road. The 110 mid roof cab has the lot. From the Ezyrider II high back air suspension driver’s seat with lumbar support, 51” double bed sleeper compartment and air adjustable tilt and telescopic steering column, to dual air conditioning, cruise control and a chrome and leather steering wheel. All this luxury sits over a 15L, 560HP engine and 18 speed manual gear box.

As impressive as the Freightliner Argosy prime mover may be, what it pulls is just as impressive. The two trailers are each split into two compartments. Trailer A is used for carrying the heavy equipment when on the move and transforms into the engineers briefing room and office when parked up for race meetings. Trailer B’s front section is used as the driver's area where they can store their helmets, driving suits and race gear. The mid-section is the workshop area and includes a lathe, vice and work benches and the two race cars travel nose to tail on ramps above the workshop area. The underbelly of the B trailer features 16 lockers loaded with spare gear boxes, diffs, jack stands, car set up equipment and consumables.

The entire outfit, worth about $1.5 million each, (and BJR run two!) is packed to the rafters with enough parts to completely rebuild the cars, including spare engines, gear boxes, diffs and every other body part. At a race and you need a spark plug? Have no fear. Each transporter carries ten boxes of them! How about a wheel? Well, each transporter has 64 spare wheels and tyres, just in case. Need some tools to change a tyre? Will 15 fully equipped tool boxes, along with gas canisters, air jacks and panel beating equipment help? An impressive setup I think you would agree. Next time you’re watching your favourite driver spraying champagne in celebration on the podium, now at least you’ll have more of an idea of how they got there. 

Behind The Wheel

Screaming down Conrod Straight at 300 kph in a 650 horsepower V8 Supercar is not the time you want to be reaching for the windscreen wipers, or anything for that matter. At those speeds, you want both hands firmly on the wheel, and this is the philosophy behind the modern day V8 Supercar steering wheel.

Many of us would be familiar with the personal controls incorporated into our steering wheels, although it wasn’t that long ago when the horn was its only additional feature. Nowadays, you can find cruise control, controls for music and maybe hands free phone functions. Step into the world of V8 Supercars, and it’s an entirely different ball game.

Allowing the driver to have both hands on the wheel while attending to vital tasks throughout a race is a huge leap forward in driver safety. Well over a dozen controls that would normally require a “hands off” approach can now be safely performed by the driver with just the flick of a finger.

Controls for the headlight, windscreen wipers and radio buttons are all fairly simple and within easy reach, but it’s the amazing array of race only controls that separates these V8 brutes from even the most modern day road cars. The pit switch for instance, which limits a drivers’ speed in pit lane. Or the cool suit, helmet fan and drink switches. Temperatures inside a V8 Supercar are stifling, often reaching over 50 degrees. Cool suits, helmet fans and driver hydration are essential and can all be controlled by the driver’s thumb to keep him as comfortable as possible.

Then there’s the controls for the mini dash display perched towards the top of this amazing piece of technology. Drivers need to be able to process and monitor huge amounts of information. From speed, gear selection, RPM, oil pressure and brake rotor temperature to lap times and G-forces, all this information and more is available to the driver via the steering wheel.

And finally, if that wasn’t enough, at the very top of this marvel of motorsport is a row of coloured lights, all displaying to the driver even more information on the performance of the car. Revs too high, the lights will tell him. Pit lane speed too low, the lights will tell him. Front left wheel starting to lock under brakes, the lights will tell him.

A lot to take on board when you’re covering over 80 metres per second, but not for the men that wrestle with these monsters at every race. Indeed, Will Davison says it “makes life a lot easier”.  

Off Season with Jason Bright

9. February 2015 15:24 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Jason Bright finished a respectable 11th in the 2014 V8 Supercar championship after a mixed year which included three pole positions, a race win at the Auckland ITM 500 and an unfortunately spectacular roll over at the Clipsal 500 that made highlight reels across the country.

After a huge schedule of racing and corporate activities during the 2014 season Jason took some time off over the Christmas break to relax and recharge. Rare Spares recently sat down with Jason to talk about his time off and what is in store for the 2015 season.

How would you sum up your 2014 season overall?

I thought at times we showed our potential but we had a bit of a slump from Townsville through to Phillip Island that you cannot afford to have with the closeness of the competition these days.

How tiring is a full season of travelling around the country, testing and 17 rounds across Australia and NZ plus your other sponsor and team commitments?

It is a long year for sure but I have learnt over the years to make the most of the gaps in between each round or when there is a quiet period.  Our meetings and associated appearances seem to come in bursts at different periods of the year and when it gets bust it gets very busy!

How much time do you officially get off from your job?

I think we are pretty lucky, when we get a break it is usually a good couple of weeks and you get to do things with the family and get away.  Having said that, you never stop thinking about how to get more out of the car or the team and they are always only a phone call away.

How have you spent your break this Christmas?

We managed to get away for one week after Christmas for a family holiday but the rest has been spent working on my new trade and service franchise Taskforce.

Is it a clean break? Do you still think about driving and the season to come?

Yes for sure you do, you are always thinking about what you could have done better or improved upon.

What does the first day back at work look like for you for season 2015?

We have a pre-brief before the first test of the year to go through all of the changes that have been made in the off season and build a plan for the first test.

And are you confident about your 2015 prospects?

Yes. I believe that we finished the year very strong and can put the slump mid season last year behind us and that we have a good direction for this year.  We have had some engineering changes which I think as a team will help us work together much better which is probably an area we haven’t maximised previously.

 

Ford V8 Supercar No More?

2. February 2015 16:47 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

After Ford Australia announced in May 2013 that it would be closing its manufacturing operations in Australia by 2016, naturally questions started to be asked about Ford’s continuing involvement in V8 Supercars and its financial support of the factory team Ford Performance Racing.

The signs weren't promising and on 1st December 2013, Ford President Bob Graziano officially confirmed that Ford would be withdrawing financial support from V8 Supercars at the end of 2015, with a total withdrawal from the category at the end of 2016.  

Ford fans were on the whole extremely saddened, as the brand they have cheered for, shed tears with and owned themselves would no long have support of the manufacturer. Fords continued participation in the series moving forward was also now under a cloud.

Tim Edwards who is Team Principal of Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA), commonly known as Ford Performance Racing (FPR), also confirmed the decision and made the following statement.

“Ford Australia’s decision to not extend its commercial relationship with our team beyond the end of next season is extremely disappointing for our large and loyal fan base, but as a business this decision now allows us to concentrate on our long-term future,” Edwards said.

“We have enjoyed a highly-successful relationship with Ford Australia with just shy of 50 race wins, 150 podiums and the last two Bathurst 1000 crowns together.”

It is expected both PRA and Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske (DJRTP) will continue to campaign the new Ford Falcon FG X being debuted this year through 2015 and 2016, however the future of both the Falcon and Ford in V8 Supercars is now the new question on everyone’s lips.

In 2017 V8 Supercars will reinvigorate the category with the new ‘Gen2’ rules package. This new technical framework opens up engine and body shape regulations which will allow turbo charged four and six cylinder engines to run alongside the existing V8 engines.

The other large change will be to free up the body shape eligibility, and combined with the new engine allowances, has been designed to entice more manufacturers to the sport.

Whether this means a Ford Mustang could potentially be competing in V8 Supercars from 2017 onwards is purely speculation, but it would be a welcome inclusion to the die-hard Ford fans, who have been cheering on the Blue Oval since the company first started its involvement in Australian motor racing in the 1960’s.

The ‘Ford Works Team (Australia)’ was the first Australian motor racing team to be supported by Ford Australia after its formation in 1962 and at that years Armstrong 500 held at Phillip Island, Harry Firth and Bob Jane drove their Ford Falcon XL to victory.

This began an incredible journey of Ford in motor racing in Australia with many unforgettable moments, including of course the unforgettable moment that Alan Moffat and Colin Bond completed a 1 -2 finish in perfect formation at Bathurst in 1977.

Ford currently holds twenty three Australian Touring Car Championship titles, versus Holden’s nineteen titles and Ford has proudly won Bathurst a total of twenty times over the events history.

For most Ford fans, the passion for the Blue Oval will remain irrespective of Ford’s involvement in V8 Supercars moving forward, however Australian motorsport would be all the better if the iconic and truly aussie Ford vs Holden rivalry could remain for years to come.