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HomeNewsFLASHBACK: Supercars' unique 25-hour marathon

FLASHBACK: Supercars’ unique 25-hour marathon

IT was the Supercars spectacle with an official race time of 25 hours, 35 minutes and 23 seconds.

The inaugural Adelaide 500 in 1999 was memorable in more ways than one.

Having supported Formula 1 with sprint races on the original grand prix layout, Adelaide’s Supercars-orientated event kicked off in unique fashion just before the turn of the century.

Specifically, a 500km race held over two days.

Taking a special victory was Craig Lowndes, who recalls the occasion fondly.

Lowndes was sent to the rear of the grid for the Sunday run to the flag after a controversial Saturday incident whereby he tagged Danny Osborne after exiting Turn 8, resulting in the #22 Colourscan EL Falcon clouting the wall.

Remarkably, Lowndes still found a way onto the top step of the podium, with a stunning drive to lead home Greg Murphy and Jason Bright.

“I remember sitting at the back of the grid and (Holden Racing Team engineer) Robbie Starr coming to me and saying ‘look, you just drive the wheels off this, we’ll call the shots in the strategy and we’ll see where we end up’,” he told V8 Sleuth.

MORE: When Skaife won Adelaide 500 from 38th

“I remember driving out of the last pitstop and radioing to the team saying ‘where are we, how many laps to go’ and they said ‘you’re in the lead’ and I think there was 20 or 30 laps remaining… I couldn’t believe it.”

Lowndes celebrates. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

Notably, Lowndes said it was that weekend which forced drivers to lift their fitness regimes.

Several drivers succumbed to the physical toll of 500km around a brutal street track: Rod Nash (torn muscle) and Paul Radisich (exhaustion) among those to retire.

Mark Skaife also suffered an issue which forced him to drive with one foot, eventually leading to a crash.

“We actually entered that weekend with no idea how tough it was going to be physically and mentally because at that point we hadn’t encountered anything like that with the conditions, the heat, the physicality of a street circuit and the distance,” said Lowndes.

“So we tried to train for the conditions but until you actually do it, you just don’t know what you’re going to walk into.

“I think that Saturday we all got through pretty much unscathed physically because we’re all fresh, we’re all ready, we’re all keen.

“It wasn’t until the point when you walk back into the track on the Sunday morning where your feet are sore, you have got blisters on your hands, you’re just tired and you’re knowing that you’re going back in to another 250km race of what you have just done, knowing that you’re probably running at 60 percent fitness from what you encountered on the Saturday.

“The physicality of that event just was unbelievable because we just hadn’t encountered anything like that.

“And it was at that point where the Adelaide race just basically opened our eyes up of how much fitter we needed to be and train more for that level of racing.”

The Adelaide 500 returns to close out the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship season on December 1-4.

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