SEVEN-TIME Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes will tackle The Bend Classic this weekend aboard 1980s Formula 1 machinery.
Lowndes is set to compete for outright honours driving the Dallara F189 Cosworth that won the event last year in the hands of track owner Sam Shahin.
A record 140-plus cars are entered for the 2021 event; 90 for the two-day Supersprint competition and 50 in the inaugural The Bend Classic Autotest challenge.
Lowndes’ career has included a 1997 season in F1 feeder category Formula 3000, while he famously drove a McLaren F1 car at a Bathurst media event in 2011.
“I’m really looking forward to it, with everything going on it’s difficult to do anything at the moment so it’s great that The Bend is putting on a weekend like this – and obviously to have the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car,” Lowndes said.
“It’s a great opportunity and a fantastic honour to drive the cars I grew up watching at the Adelaide Grand Prix back in the day, and to drive them at a circuit like The Bend is even better.
“It’s a great circuit, purpose built and to hear what they have planned for the future and the ongoing development is very exciting. I can’t wait to get down there and get in the car.”
The Bend Motorsport Park’s Managing Director Sam Shahin said Lowndes’ addition to the event is validation of the growing Classic festival.
Shahin’s recently acquired 1998 Benetton Formula 1 car will make its public debut at the event, as will brother Yasser’s Dallara Formula Renault 3.5.
“It is our ambition to grow The Bend Classic into one of the world’s premier motorsport festivals of its type,” said Shahin.
“Even though the last two years have hindered us from welcoming interstate or international competitors and their vehicles to The Bend, the response from South Australian competitors has been nothing short of magnificent.”
More than a century of motoring and motorsport heritage will be on show with the oldest entrant a 1919 Dodge Special driven by Stuart Brown.
At the other end of the spectrum, cars a full century younger include Sebastien Amadio’s S5000 and Ben Runciman’s 2019 Lamborghini Huracan SuperTrofeo.
In between sit a spectacular array of cars across six categories, including Sports Sedans, Touring Cars, GT3 machinery and rapid open-wheelers across the eras.
Bob Middleton will field his 1990s Whiteline Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR, while the vintage group includes a stunning array of classics and historically significant vehicles dating back to the 1920s.
A host of historic, classic and modern vehicles of significance will also be demonstrated on track during non-competitive sessions.