V8 with a vengeance

AMONG THE BEST OF THE MANY WHEELS’ FEATURE STORIES ON AUSTRALIA’S V8 SUPERCARS SERIES IS MICHAEL STAHL’S ‘V8 WITH A VENGEANCE’ FROM 1998.

FIRST PUBLISHED JUNE 1998

Stahl, taking an unusual approach to the subject, first introduced readers to two young hopefuls – Darren Hossack and Darren Pate – before spending wheel time in a Gibson Motorsport Commodore V8 Supercar.

Pate, just 23, and Hossack, 28, joined Wynn’s Racing team, run by Gibson Motorsport (race legend Fred Gibson’s longstanding team), for the 1998 V8 Supercars series. Stahl’s quest was to discover what’s essential in order to operate at the top level of Australia’s premier race series. Hossack, who won the 1994 Australian Karting Championship, and Pate, an apparently brilliant networker who turned up to meet Stahl in somebody else’s Lotus Esprit V8, both put fitness at the top of the mandatory list: personal trainers, gym-time and bike riding.

Says Hossack, “You need a mix of aerobic fitness and muscular endurance, but also a mixture of power and strength movements in your training – especially power movements, because they’re related to reaction times.”

Pate also spent plenty of time chasing personal sponsorship. “Some days will be chock-a-block doing sponsors meetings, y’know chasing a lot personal sponsors. That’s what I really base myself on, which is what enables me to do this full-time. So that I can spend time training.”

It’s obvious from all the talk that both aimed for a career as a professional touring car driver.

Then it was Stahly’s turn: “Everything in your career has been building up to this 10-lap test at Calder Park”. There’s no sense of intimidation in Stahl’s words – after all, he was sufficiently handy to take a class win in the 1997 Bathurst three-hour Showroom Showdown race when, in true Peter Brock-style, he set the fastest lap of the class on the last lap in the Falcon XR6 he drove with fellow journos Chris Nixon and Paul Gover.

“It’s obviously catapult-quick, but the linearity of the racing V8’s power delivery makes it feel little different from HSV’s hottest, 215kW road cars. Chassis, aerodynamics and tyres all help mask the fact that you’re dealing with more than twice that amount of horsepower.

“The biggest difference between this and a road car is the racer’s ability to just set into a corner and hang there; no lazy slewing or screeching on its sidewalls. Not that there is limitless grip. Throttle and the almost road-car-light steering inputs still have the same effects, but the responses are so much sharper and slicker.”

There can be no doubt this story helped Stahl earn the Australian Motoring Journalist of the Year award in 1998.

“CHASSIS, AERODYNAMICS AND TYRES ALL HELP MASK THE FACT THAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH MORE THAN TWICE THE HORSEPOWER OF AN HSV ROAD CAR”

Red flagged careers

Neither Pate nor Hossack went on to conquer the world in V8 Supercars. They paired up to finish eighth in the ’98 Sandown endurance race and seventh at Bathurst, but no full-time drives followed. Hossack was Sports Sedan champion in 2004 and then spent 20 years as race manager at DPE Kart Technology before opening Hossack Motor Sport Services in 2017. Pate finished 62nd in the 1998 V8 Supercars series and then dropped out of motor sport. Today he’s the national sales manager at MotorOne, a car-care products company.

ALSO IN WHEELS, June 1998

We scoop the interior of the new Falcon some three months before it’s revealed; Paul Cockburn plays human witches hat for the Saab Precision Driving T g eam; Robbo compares the new Mercedes-Benz ML320 with the Range Rover 4.0 SE and LandCru uiiser GX r GXV; Robbo also sit down wi so sits down with VW ch r chaiirman Fe dinand Piechwh an Ferdinand Piech who speaks about his ambitions for “a “a W12 sup rcar” which would in fact become the W16 Bugatti Veyron.

THE WAY IT WAS

Never touched her

On January 26 at a White House press conference, US President Bill Clinton utters the line regarding an intern that would come back to haunt him: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

Search team

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, students from California’s Stanford University, launch a search engine company they call Google. The name is a mispelling of ‘googol’, which is 1 followed by 100 zeros. ‘Google’ becomes a verb in 2006.

Alot of ticker

Swiss watch maker Swatch has a brave crack at turning the world onto ‘decimal’ time, where a 24-hour day is broken into 1000 ‘.beats’. That makes a ‘.beat’ 86.4 seconds, and … never mind, clearly it never caught on.