Street racing, it’s enough to make some fast, but others furious

Friday, 21 June, 2013

Street racing, in its illegal and, if you like, underground form, is not an activity that is restricted only to the sets of the movies such as Fast & Furious 6… it might be going on in the streets not far from where you are right now:

This is how a street race usually goes: drivers meet near the designated race location. Racers buy-in. Bookies collect bets, then pool money. Drivers use their cars as the blockade; twenty, thirty, or more, plod along the highway – or on a side street, although that carries the risk of residents, jolted awake during the race by the whizzing of engines accelerating to upwards of 100-150 miles per hour, alerting the police. The racecars lead, lined up like the first row of a marching band in a parade. Traffic slows. Commuters wonder what the hold-up could be. It’s the middle of the night.

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Here’s the way to build a Formula One racing car

Wednesday, 13 February, 2013

I’ve watched one or two F1 races in my time, and while I’ve marvelled at the way F1 cars are often almost rebuilt during pit-stops mid-race, I’ve never much thought about how such cars are assembled in the first place… and it’s not quite the way I envisaged it might be though.

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Fashionistas thrive on the race that stops a nation

Monday, 31 October, 2011

Fashion at the 1937 Sydney Cup, by Sam Hood

There’s still time to place your bets for tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup, and more importantly, think about what you’ll be wearing track side.

And although it may not enjoy quite the same eminence as the Melbourne Cup, the Sydney Cup, which is run in the autumn racing season, is no less significant as far as fashionistas are concerned, as photos taken by Australian photographer Sam Hood in 1937 go to show.

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A dollar either way, most racehorses have the same ancestor

Friday, 25 February, 2011

You may be surprised to know that over 90 percent of the horses present at any given race meeting have likely all descended from the same stallion, a horse called The Darley Arabian, who was born in Syria, who was then moved to England in the early part of the eighteenth century.

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More than a racecourse even after 150 years of races at Randwick

Tuesday, 6 July, 2010

Randwick Racecourse 2010

This year marks the 150th anniversary of horse racing at Royal Randwick racecourse, in Sydney, Australia. The racecourse however isn’t notable just for horse racing, and the venue has acted as an arena for all manner of momentous and historic happenings.

Over the last 150 years the site has hosted musical and religious events, is synonymous with fashion, has been used as a backdrop for movie and television shows, and will shortly become home to Sydney’s newest drive-in cinema.

Given the milestone, I decided to put together a list of just some of what has happened at Randwick racecourse during the last 150 years.

Racing this time…

Randwick Racecourse circa 1863

The land Royal Randwick now occupies was dedicated for use as a racecourse in 1833 by the NSW Governor, General Sir Richard Bourke. Up until that point a lot of horse racing in Sydney was taking place at Hyde Park.

The first ever race meeting at Randwick was a private affair, between just two horses, in June 1833. Racing in earnest however did not commence until May 1860.

Phar Lap at Randwick

Phar Lap at Randwick

The potential of champion racehorse Phar Lap, one of Australia’s most celebrated racing horses, was recognised after he finished in second place in the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick racecourse on 14 September 1929. From there the only was up for Phar Lap.

Take the tram

Tram station near Randwick Racecourse
From the State Records NSW Flickr photo collection

Tram lines once ran to the entrance of the racecourse on Alison Road. The racecourse tram station consisted of six platforms which made it possible for race-goers to leave the site very quickly after a meeting.

Royal Title

Royal Randwick

In 1992 the racecourse was granted the right to be called Royal Randwick Racecourse by Queen Elizabeth II. It is said to be one of the last places in Australia to be granted a Royal title after then Prime Minister Paul Keating asked the Queen to cease the practice, as he anticipated Australia transitioning from a constitutional monarchy into a republic.

As a runway

Charles Kingsford Smith

Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith landed his aircraft the “Southern Cross” at the racecourse in 1928, upon arriving in Sydney, after completing his Trans-Pacific flight from the USA.

Religious ceremonies and events

World Youth Day 2008

On 19 January 1995 Pope John Paul II officiated at the Beatification ceremony of Mary MacKillop, an Australian Roman Catholic nun, and co-founder of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart religious order, at the racecourse.

MacKillop will be canonised on 17 October 2010 in Rome, making her Australia’s first Catholic saint.

In July 2008 the racecourse hosted World Youth Day (above photo) a three day global event convened by the Catholic church, which was attended by an estimated 400,000 people.

Concerts and music festivals

Future Music Festival

The racecourse has been home to the Sydney leg of the annual Future Music Festival, an electronica and dance music event, in recent years.

In the past the site hosted rock concerts in the absence of other suitable venues in the early 1970s around Sydney, after the demolition of Sydney Stadium in 1970. The Kinks, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones, are some of the bands that have performed at the racecourse.

In the movies and at the movies

Drive-in cinema
Photo by Adrian Smith

While the racecourse doesn’t have a big association with movie making, there are still some ties to the film industry. A scene from 2000’s Mission: Impossible II was filmed at the racecourse, and later this month Sydney’s second drive-in film venue, the Racecourse Drive-in Cinema, is scheduled to open.

Fashion! Turn to the right

Fashion at the racecourse

The biggest dates on the racing calendar see fashionistas from across Sydney converge on the racecourse, resulting in a fashion spectacle that almost eclipses the horse racing.

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The Formula One guide to extreme time management

Tuesday, 27 October, 2009

An illustrated breakdown of car maintenance operations during a typical seven-second pit stop in Formula One racing.

In the seven seconds it takes to complete an average Grand Prix pit stop, a driver will get four fresh tires, a tank of fuel, an inspection to remove debris from nooks and crannies, and maybe some shiny new parts to replace any track casualties. It’s a hyperdrive time warp where jobs that might take an afternoon at your local garage are crammed into a few heartbeats.

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The world record for sprinting was set 20,000 years ago

Tuesday, 27 October, 2009

Despite the fact world record times for running and athletic events are virtually in free-fall, we still have some way to go in order to catch up with the speed and agility of our distant ancestors.

Twenty thousand years ago six male Australian Aborigines chasing prey left footprints in a muddy lake shore that became fossilized. Analysis of the footprints shows one of them was running at 37 kph (23 mph), only 5 kph slower than Usain Bolt was traveling at when he ran the 100 meters in world record time of 9.69 seconds in Beijing last year. But Bolt had been the recipient of modern training, and had the benefits of spiked running shoes and a rubberized track, whereas the Aboriginal man was running barefoot in soft mud. Given the modern conditions, the man, dubbed T8, could have reached speeds of 45 kph, according to McAllister.

Some interesting discussion also accompanies the article.

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