Jason Bright’s huge stack on the chicane in 2014. Picture: SARAH REED
Jason Bright’s huge stack on the chicane in 2014. Picture: SARAH REED

Thrills, spills: Our top 10 Adelaide 500 moments

AS the Adelaide 500 this week celebrates its 20th year, South Australia's annual Supercars event has proved to be one of the toughest tests on the calendar.

The high-speed run on bumpy city streets between the ex-Formula 1 circuit's unforgiving concrete barriers - combined with Adelaide's usually scorching end-of-summer heat - punishes both drivers and cars for 500 long kilometres across the weekend.

The event has also rapidly became one of the most prestigious among competitors and fans, each year playing out to huge crowds.

The triumphs, disappointments and crashes come thick and fast, making each race unmissable action.

Here's our list of the 10 biggest moments in the Adelaide 500's history:

 

10 - KELLY GANG TAKES OVER ADELAIDE, 2007

Winner Rick Kelly, middle, with runner up Todd Kelly, right and third-placegetter James Courtney, left, on the podium after the 2007 race. Picture: Mark Horsburgh, Edge Photography
Winner Rick Kelly, middle, with runner up Todd Kelly, right and third-placegetter James Courtney, left, on the podium after the 2007 race. Picture: Mark Horsburgh, Edge Photography

V8 Supercars' visit to Adelaide in 2007 is remembered fondly by the Kelly family. Todd took Holden's brand new VE Commodore to victory on Saturday, before Rick led home a sibling one-two on the Sunday. The pair finished first and second in the weekend points and the Mildura pair shared the podium on one of the category's biggest stages.

 

 

9 - MARCOS SMASHES INTO THE BIG TIME, 2001

Marcos Ambrose spins out in pit straight in 2001.
Marcos Ambrose spins out in pit straight in 2001.

Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose shocked the Supercars establishment with his speed when he debuted for Stone Brothers Racing in 2001, but Todd Kelly crashed his welcome party when the V8s hit the streets of Adelaide. The pair collided halfway down the track's front straight, Kelly's Kmart Commodore sending Ambrose's Pirtek Falcon backwards into the pit wall in a massive shunt.

 

 

8 - WHINCUP REIGN BEGINS, 2006

Triple Eight's Jamie Whincup after his first Supercars win in 2006. Picture: Campbell Brodie
Triple Eight's Jamie Whincup after his first Supercars win in 2006. Picture: Campbell Brodie

After dominating Saturday's opening blast, Craig Lowndes looked to do the same on the Sunday. An unfortunate string of dramas left him deep in the field, where it is easy to get caught up in traffic and tussles. Lowndes had nowhere to go when a four-car tangle unfolded in front of him, putting him out of the race. But teammate Jamie Whincup saved the day for Triple Eight, taking his very first Supercars win.

 

 

7 - PERCAT'S PERFECT FINISH, 2016

Nick Percat kisses the cup on the podium after winning the rain-affected in 2016. Picture: Mark Brake
Nick Percat kisses the cup on the podium after winning the rain-affected in 2016. Picture: Mark Brake

It was controversial and confusing, and through all the chaos Adelaide's own Nick Percat became the first homegrown winner of the SA event. In a Sunday race shortened by 30 laps because of a freak storm and torrential rain, Percat only took the lead on the final lap to deliver his maiden solo Supercars win and the first and only victory for the minnow Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport outfit.

 

 

6 - HOT, HOT, HOT, 1999

Paul Radisich being carried from his car by pit crew members after suffering dehydration in the heat in 1999.
Paul Radisich being carried from his car by pit crew members after suffering dehydration in the heat in 1999.

Scorching temperatures have become the norm nowadays, and the mean streets of Adelaide sparked their reputation during furnace-like conditions in the event's 1999 debut. The concrete walls trapped exhaust fumes and, combined with soaring temperatures, left several drivers needing medical assistance. Paul Radisich and John Faulkner both collapsed in the cockpit mid-race, illustrating the endurance required to conquer the Adelaide track.

 

 

5 - BRIGHT GOES ON A ROLL, 2014

Three cars wide into the Senna Chicane simply doesn't work, as Jason Bright discovered with horrifying drama four years ago. The now-retired Team BOC pilot was turned sideways through the first turn on a restart, sending him rolling and tumbling into the fence and destroying his car. Remarkably, Bright was able to step out of the twisted Commodore unscathed.

 

 

4 - GREAT MATES DO BATTLE, 2012

Jamie Whincup overtakes Will Davison at the 2012 race. Picture: Campbell Brodie
Jamie Whincup overtakes Will Davison at the 2012 race. Picture: Campbell Brodie

Saturday's race in 2012 boiled down to a heads-up battle between Ford and Holden, with good mates Will Davison and Jamie Whincup duking it out for the win. Davison had the edge on the reigning V8 champ in the closing stages but his Falcon ran out of fuel on the last lap, handing the victory to Whincup, who dedicated it to his late father.

 

 

3 - SVG FOR VICTORY, 2013

Shane Van Gisbergen celebrates after winning race two of the Clipsal 500 in 2013. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Shane Van Gisbergen celebrates after winning race two of the Clipsal 500 in 2013. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Shane van Gisbergen sensationally exited Ford, Stone Brothers and Supercars at the end of 2012, only to make a shock return with Holden and Tekno Autosport just a couple of months later. Amid a swirl of controversy and divided fan opinion, the flying Kiwi let his driving do the talking, taking two pole positions and the race win on Sunday - the Tekno team's first victory.

 

 

2 - 'GAVE IT SOME JANDAL AND F*** YEAH!', 2014

Scott McLaughlin after finishing second in spectacular style for Volvo in 2014. Picture: Tait Schmaal.
Scott McLaughlin after finishing second in spectacular style for Volvo in 2014. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

It took just two Supercar races for Volvo to shake off their boxy, boring image. Young Kiwi charger Scott McLaughlin qualified on the front row, then beat Jamie Whincup in a thrilling last-corner move to finish in second place, as a football stadium-style roar erupted among the pit straight crowd. As for his post-race interview - the stuff of legend.

 

 

1 - LOWNDES GOES FROM FIRST TO LAST TO FIRST, 1999

Racing driver Craig Lowndes pouring champagne celebrating win. Motor car racing — Sensational Adelaide 500 V8 Supercars race 11 Apr 1999.
Racing driver Craig Lowndes pouring champagne celebrating win. Motor car racing — Sensational Adelaide 500 V8 Supercars race 11 Apr 1999.

After soaring to victory in the very first 250km sprint on the Adelaide streets, Craig Lowndes copped a massive grid penalty overnight. The Holden Racing Team star had inadvertently punted a backmarker in the wall during Saturday's race and officials relegated him from pole position to the back of Sunday's grid. Throwing caution to the wind, Lowndes charged from last to first to win the race and the weekend. It was an unforgettable effort, and ensured the fledgling Adelaide 500 event would hold a special place on the annual Supercars calendar.


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