30 January 2024

Ford v Ferrari? Relive it live at the Canberra Festival of Speed

| James Coleman
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Sports cars

Project Supercars and the Canberra Racing Club have teamed up to present the Canberra Festival of Speed in March 2024. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The stage is set for a historic showdown at Canberra’s home of horsepower in March.

Remember the 2019 movie Ford V Ferrari? It’ll be like that but in real life.

A Ford GT40 will take on a Ferrari P4 over a new purpose-built bitumen circuit at Thoroughbred Park in Lyneham, just like they did at the 1966 Le Mans race when Ford completely ruined the Italian’s winning streak.

The two replicas are among 150 supercars confirmed for the show circuit at the upcoming Canberra Festival of Speed, to be held over the weekend of 2-3 March.

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The event is the brainchild of Martin Tanti and Peter Bakavgas from local event company Project Supercars. Over the past seven years, they have built the event from a simple show-and-shine outside Celestino Café in Fyshwick to what they hope will rival England’s famous Goodwood Festival of Speed, “the world’s largest car event”.

In October, they signed a deal with the Canberra Racing Club to host the event at Thoroughbred Park in Lyneham for at least three years. This included the construction of the circuit on the raceway’s grounds. Work on the circuit is already underway.

“We’re laying road base and the cars are going to be speeding around that circuit in all their glory,” Martin says.

Two men looking at sports car

The Ferrari P4 will face off against its arch-nemesis, the Ford GT40, on the new bitumen circuit at Thoroughbred Park. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A vibrant selection of other supercars – including a McLaren 720S, Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale (CS), Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder – were parked outside Via Dolce on Bunda Street earlier this month to raise awareness of the event. It was clear from the number of passers-by stopping to ogle and take a sneaky snap that the festival will go off.

“Massive interest,” Martin says.

“My phone doesn’t stop ringing. We’re always getting requests, and ticket sales are growing each day as news spreads.”

Three men crouching near sports car

Project Supercars’ Peter Bakavgas and Martin Tanti, with Canberra Racing Club CEO Darren Pearce (middle). Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Ferrari 360 CS belongs to the family of the late Peter Ciampa, whom Martin credits with the whole event.

“If it wasn’t for Peter, the network wouldn’t have grown to what it is today – simple as that,” he says.

“I was a little kid and happened to see Peter’s Ferrari at a car show. He was nice enough to show me, as we’re doing now for people coming to look at our cars. He passed away last year, but he’s the one who pushed and supported us. We do this in his honour.”

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Other notable circuit entries include a V8-powered Formula One S5000 car from 1988, supplied by Adelaide company BRM Performance and a third-generation Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 owned by Canberra-born V8-Supercar driver Cameron Hill.

Martin points out the latter is technically the first time a V8 supercar has raced locally since the discontinuation of the GMC 400 event between 2000 and 2002 when Parliament House was the backdrop to a tight 3.9-km street circuit.

Another 70 supercars are expected to form several static displays on the raceway’s grounds, complemented by a “European village fair feel”.

Sports cars on display

Plenty of phones were out to capture the stars of the Canberra Festival of Speed. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“The Canberra Festival of Speed will include a whole bunch of family activations – we’re talking food vendors, live music and displays from various companies sharing their products. It’s going to immerse you in where these cars come from – the flavour of a European village that goes hand in hand with these cars.”

In terms of matching the Goodwood event?

“Oh mate, we’re up there. We’re going very well.”

Lamborghini steering wheel

All up, there’ll be more than 200 supercars on show at the Canberra Festival of Speed (including static displays and show circuit). Photo: Michelle Kroll.

ACT MLA Mick Gentleman, a known car enthusiast, was among the crowd outside Via Dolce on Friday. He’s definitely attending in March.

“It’s a really exciting new adventure for Canberra,” he says.

“I think it’s really going to draw a wonderful crowd.”

David Marshall from the Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum describes it as “an important event” for local tourism, up there with Summernats (even if the demographic is slightly different).

“People from Sydney, Melbourne and regional NSW will come to Canberra if there’s an event. It’s great for the visitor economy, and it’ll be a spectacular complement for Summernats because it’s totally different but very appealing.”

Tickets to the Canberra Festival of Speed are available on the Project Supercars website and cost $28.60 for adults and $18.40 for 11-16-year-olds (children 10 or under are free).

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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