Moments: Craill and O’Brien share Top 99

A lot has happened in more than 10 years of Shannons Nationals competition.

There have been more than 1,600 races staged, more than 20,000 competitive racing laps battled and a remarkable array of more than 600 drivers participating—so surely finding 99 memorable moments wouldn’t be a hardship?

You would, however, be surprised. The sheer amount of stuff going on means that races that occurred in 2006 now seem like a very distant memory from more recent affairs.

So to chart the history books and pinpoint some of the most significant moments that made us, we locked Garry O’Brien and Richard Craill in the Media Centre (and by Media Centre, we mean a bar) and set them to work.

With 197 rounds between them (Craill, the slacker, missed one but ‘Garry Was There’ for them all), between them there’s enough grey matter left to pinpoint some of the biggest moments from the last 99 rounds.

Some have been expanded on in detail, while some are just pointers to the memory. Either way, it’s been 99 rounds of remarkable racing history.

Here’s what they came up with.

Ben Clucas vs Michael Trimble – closest ever F3 finish, Phillip Island 2006

Way back in 2006, British driver Ben Clucas and Michael Trimble staged an incredible photo-finish in the pouring rain at Phillip Island, with Clucas coming from a drive-through penalty to win incredibly by less than a nose-length. To the very best of our knowledge, the final margin of 0.0032s remains the closest winning margin recorded at a Shannons Nationals event in its 100-round history.

Leanne Tander becomes first female to win a Gold Star race, Phillip Island 2007

When Leanne Tander took the flag to win her first Formula 3 race in the early stages of the 2007 Australian Formula 3 Championship season it was history in the making. Not only was she the first female driver to win in the category, but she was also the first female to win in the then 51-year history of the Gold Star and the first to do so in Formula 3. For Leanne it was merely another step towards challenging for the championship—but it was a special moment for everyone watching, and created headlines everywhere. 

The first GT3 Cup Challenge race, Mallala 2008

A lot of categories had their genesis at Shannons Nationals rounds and a lot of them have come and gone—but the GT3 Cup Challenge has become a staple and one of the great success stories of the Shannons Nationals last 99 rounds. When it formed it was an amateur category, but has since evolved to become something of a development formula for Carrera Cup, with many great memories of its own.

Dean Randle’s incredible rollover and helmet throw, Phillip Island 2006

Perhaps the most iconic moment in Nationals history occurred at the third round, in May 2006. Dean Randle’s extraordinary rollover, after contact with Daniel Tamasi’s Holden Calibra, exiting the Turn 4 Haprin continues to be replayed to this day. Dean escaped unscathed from the incredible crash, though the same cannot be said for his helmet, which was pitched at full noise towards an unsuspecting Tamasi soon after both had clambered from their wrecked cars.

Tony Ricciardello versus Darren Hossack

Ultimately it is this rivalry that has definied the Shannons Nationals over the last decade and 99 rounds. Two great drivers racing two of the fastest, baddest, most developed and coolest racing cars in the country. From nearly coming to blows at Mallala in the wet in the latter half of the ‘00s, to hard and clean racing throughout the first half of the ‘10s, whenever the Red Alfa and Grey Audi got near each other on the race track people paid attention.

The last ever-National round of anything, at Oran Park in 2009

Oran Park was a special, special place. A favourite of drivers for its challenge and for pure driving enjoyment, while a fan-favourite thanks to great viewing areas and the undulations. The last ever-major national event at the circuit was a Shannons Nationals round, staged not long before the circuit’s permanent closure in 2009. It was a great place—sorely missed.

Livestreaming, Sandown 2010

Well before Foxtel GO was a thing, and before any other major series in Australia had played with Internet streaming, the Shannons Nationals had it. And from those tentative first steps at Sandown in 2010 it has grown and flourished to open the Shannons Nationals up to eyes from not only Australia, but around the world.

The first ever ‘Fight in the Night’, Queensland Raceway

Night racing isn’t used enough in Australia, but when the idea was floated by the organisers of the Production Car runners, and a sponsor to provide the lighting towers, the Nationals was all over it—making the inaugural ‘Fight in the Night’ at Queensland Raceway the first national-level major race to be run under lights since the Supercars raced at Calder in the dark in 1997. It’s since become a staple.

The Alfa

There is a running joke that the famous B&M Ricciardello Alfetta GTV is like Grandfathers axe—the head and the handle have all been replaced 10 times … but it’s still the same axe. But that does this remarkable car a remarkable disservice—over 20-plus years of racing it’s become perhaps the most evolved and developed racing car in Australia and even through it comes across as ‘80s technology racing 2010-spec Supercars, it’s also faster than ever, too.

Genesis, Wakefield Park 2006.

Wakefield Park, on reflection, seems like the perfect place to launch the Nationals—low key enough to let people go about their business to establish something new, but with that great family vibe that really engages people. Turned out it worked, too, with Formula 3, Production Cars, Commodore Cup, Saloon Cars and Sports Sedans forming a core group of categories. With the series under Rob Curkpatrick’s stewardship it marked the early years of a something that would grow much bigger than ever.

It was rather difficult expanding on all of the great moments, here’s a list of the remaining ‘top’ moments from the past decade.

Kumho V8 Touring Cars grows from four cars to 20+ under the Shannons Nationals patronage

Tony Ricciardello versus Darren Hossack versus Kerry Baily epic battles

The ‘Fight in the Night’ Safety Car controversy, Queensland Raceway 2015

Seton-versus-McLeod, epic EVO battle for the lead, Queensland Raceway

Kangaroo on the track, Morgan Park 2010

Bernie Gillon’s ‘Flamecrusher’ Mustang Sports Sedan, which sounded like something out of Star Wars 

King’s last corner pass for the win: Production Cars, Morgan Park 2010

The great Phillip Island flood

The snow at Wakefield Park

Heinrich versus Walton: An Oran Park Saloon Car epic in 2008

The Mallala Bunker discovery

The rollover no one saw: Mertens HSV gets lost upside-down in the dark at Mallala

Car switch – Rivals Hossack and Ricciardello each borrow cars at Mallala after theirs break or burn

Tebb wins, everyone else crashes, Kumho V8 Touring Cars thriller at Winton Raceway

Davies unloads at Winton, Kumho Series, Winton Raceway … made some noise

Kumho Series last lap at Sydney Motorsport Park 2013—the best last lap ever

Dylan Thomas/Stuart Kostera finish in pit lane debacle at SMSP AMChamp enduro

The birth of the Phillip Island 101 GT race

Tander from behind to win the 2015 Phillip Island 101

The 2015 Phillip Island Carrera Cup crash fest

Kinsley’s GT3 Cup Challenge rout in the wet at Phillip Island in 2010—utter domination.

Campbell’s giant-killing drive in an older car at QR, 2014

Leanne Tander’s drive from ninth to second in wet-dry Mallala F3 race, 2007

Marco Mapelli takes out James Winslow at 210kph, Symmons Plains Formula 3 2007

Jake Camilleri beats the 4WDs in the rain in a FWD Mazda, Symmons Plains

Every single Symmons Plains after party that ever happened

Morgan Park’s ‘Special Events Unit’ media centre … very special indeed

Tweedie and ZhangQi bang wheels at 210kph at Morgan Park, 2010

The Sheep and the Saloon Car at Morgan Park … there were no winners

Super Trucks at Oran Park, that is all

The truck punches a hole in the Oran Park Wall, Oran Park 2007

All of the Carrera Cup races at Phillip Island – close, dramatic and intense

Marcus Zukanovic versus Geoff Emery in Commodore Cup, a great rivalry

Walton wins from the back of a 35-car grid in Saloon Cars, Phillip Island

The moment Suzuki Swift Series bump drafting was invented by Benny Grice – Phillip Island

The 230kph Sports Sedan start line shunt at Phillip Island, 2015

The sound of the John Gourlay Audi A4 Sports Sedan anywhere

Grant Phillips crashes at SMSP and vents on the onboard camera

Aaron Seton’s departing wheel on the last lap of the 2016 APCS season, Sydney Motorsport Park

Evans versus Hardeman: A year-long duel, GT3 Cup Challenge 2016

Cranston goes Aerial, Sports Racers, Queensland Raceway 2016

The introduction of Livestreaming on the most dramatic weekend of them all, Sandown 2010

Sandown 2010 – the most remarkable weekend we’ve ever had (ask anyone who was there)

Pollicina goes from eighth to first before Turn 1, Kumho V8 Touring Cars at SMSP

The flag marshal trips on track in front of a Porsche Pack … scary moment at Sandown, 2010

V8 Utes at Phillip Island, put on a show and brought a big crowd

Johnson versus Richards, TCM at Sandown 2016

Bruce Banks wins the Sports Sedan title using three cars in five rounds

Collins versus Capo F3 decider at Wakefield in 2015, dramatic

Gamer-to-racer, Justin Ruggier wins Kumho Series title in 2014 after remarkable comeback

Ryan Simpson versus Ruggier title battle in Kumho Series – epic

Matt Speakman – disabled racer makes GT3 Cup Challenge debut with McElrea Racing

Brock Giblin’s fire, the heroics to save him and the remarkable aftermath at SMSP

Hossack wins Sports Sedan and National Superkart title in the same year

Eggleston Motorsport’s back to back Kumho V8 Touring Cars Series titles

The Ashley Cooper Memorial Trophy

Adam Beechy’s three-straight Commodore Cup titles

The Des Wall Memorial Trophy

The Clem Smith Cup

Tim Macrow’s three stunning F3 titles

Cameron Hill’s Formula Ford title – first privateer to win in 20 years

Graeme Holmes’ incredible flip at Sandown, 2010

The lucky Superkart racer, enormous, high-speed Turn 1 crash in Sydney

The Bathurst double header with the 12-Hour

Speedway grandson-of-a-gun emerges: Josh Hunter wins Kumho V8 Touring Cars

Sydney Motorsport Park’s four-day, 11 category spectacular event

Clem Smith driving his old Sports Sedan during the parade lap … for his own race

Mallala night racing – only one of two tracks to do it in the dark

The Saloon Cars first ever endurance race at Winton

Roger Lago’s double titles in GT3 Cup Challenge

Australian Formula Ford’s visits to Sydney Motorsport Park, Queensland Raceway and Sandown

Stuart Kostera’s triple titles in Production Car Racing

The Radical debut of the V8-powered SR8, and the electric powered ELMOFO

Jack Perkins raising the bar in Sports Sedans

The thrilling 2007 F3 title decider at Oran Park

Greg Crick vs Bryce Washington for the 2006 Australian GT Championship

Allan Jarvis as king of the Swifts – won every title

Pollicina’s HSV BBQ at Sandown, hot!

Alex Rullo makes history as youngest ever Touring Car winner in Australian history at Winton, 2015

Craig Lowndes Australian GT Championship debut, Phillip Island, Audi R8

Shannons Nationals young-gun program – Callan Sayers, Swift Series 2013

Sandown’s epic 2010 Formula 3 title decider, Sandown 2010

Matt Kingsley’s ‘Armco Sound Barrier Breaking’ shunt, Sandown 2010

Chris Delfsma goes aerial, Symmons Plains 2008

Grice, Ross, Tabinor & Baxter-Smith Saloon Car ‘Race for the ages’, Wakefield 2014

Matt Campbell’s GT3CC domination, Phillip Island 2014

Hayden Cooper smokes ‘em in the F3 rain, Phillip Island

Josh Burdon’s loop-the-loop, Morgan Park

Tony Ricciardello: Voted the Shannons Nationals ‘Driver of the Decade’ after 10 seasons