AUSTRALIAN racing legend Craig Lowndes will headline The Bend Classic this weekend.
The seven-time Bathurst winner will compete for outright honours driving the Dallara F189 Cosworth Formula 1 car that won the event last year and currently holds The Bend’s West circuit lap record.
A record 140-plus cars are entered for the event this weekend, Lowndes heading a 90-strong competitive field tackling the two-day Supersprint competition this weekend, while a further 50 cars will compete in the inaugural The Bend Classic Autotest challenge.
Lowndes, who this year is competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship, said he was looking forward to jumping back into a ‘wings and slicks’ open wheel racer.
“I’m really looking forward to it, with everything going on it’s difficult to do anything at the moment so it’s great that The Bend is putting on a weekend like this – and obviously to have the opportunity to drive a Formula one car!” Lowndes said.
“It’s a great opportunity and a fantastic honor to drive the cars I grew up watching at the Adelaide Grand Prix back in the day, and to drive them at a circuit like The Bend is even better.
“It’s a great circuit, purpose built and to hear what they have planned for the future and the ongoing development is very exciting. I can’t wait go get down there and get in the car.”
The Bend Motorsport Park Managing Director Sam Shahin said Lowndes’ addition to the event was validation of the growing Classic festival.
“Craig is a fantastic ambassador for motorsport and we are ecstatic that the stars have aligned so he can attend this year,” he said.
“His enthusiasm for the event and the circuit are welcomed and he will be a great addition to a wonderful weekend of motorsport.
“He’s also only one of the few people I would trust to drive my car and bring it back in one piece!
“It is our ambition to grow The Bend Classic into one of the world’s premier motorsport festivals of its type. Even though the last two years have hindered us from welcoming interstate or international competitors and their vehicles to The Bend, the response from South Australian competitors has been nothing short of magnificent.
“South Australian fans are in for a spectacular weekend and we are so inspired and thankful with the response from local competitors, car owners and enthusiasts who are supporting this event in record numbers.”
More than a century of motoring and motorsport heritage will be on show this weekend with the oldest entrant a 1919 Dodge Special driven by Stuart Brown, that closely followed by a 1924 Mercedes Targa Florio entered by Graham McDonagh.
At the other end of the spectrum, cars a full century younger include Sebastien Amadio’s S5000 and Ben Runciman’s 2019 Lamborghini Huracan SuperTrofeo.
In between sit a spectacular array of cars across six categories, including Sports Sedans, Touring Cars, GT3 machinery and rapid open-wheelers across the eras.
The 2021 Classic will see the public debut of two new additions to The Bend’s own fleet, namely a Judd V10-powered Benneton B198, raced in period by multiple Grand Prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella.
A Dallara Formula Renault 3.5 V8 will also be demonstrated for the first time; Powered by a 3.5-litre V8, Formula Renault 3.5 cars were at their peak just as fast – if not quicker – than equivalent GP2 machinery at the time.
A host of top drivers, including current Ferrari F1 star Carlos Sainz jr, competed in the category on their pathway to the top of the sport.
Bob Middleton will field his 1990s Whiteline Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR, while the vintage group includes a stunning array of classics and historically significant vehicles dating back to the 1920s.
The Bend Classic will be staged across two days this weekend (September 4-5) with tickets available from thebend.com.au at just $10.
There will be a raft of on and off-track entertainment for fans of all ages, with more details available from thebend.com.au