There is a world of motorsport out there that is so far removed from the amateur, grassroots level enjoyed by car club members, that it seems like pure fantasy. The drivers don’t own the cars they race, nor do they build them, prepare them, transport them or repair them. Their motivation, aims and objectives are expressed in a serious business plan where the focus is clearly on attaining a seat in the next category of choice, not merely nailing a personal best lap or trying to make some ancient bucket of bolts go faster than its makers ever intended. These people are either independently wealthy or work hard to attract sponsors, because what they spend on a single event, would finance most club racers for several seasons.
Warragul is seldom described as a hub of professional motorsport, but there are some fairly high profile race workshops and drivers in this locale. One of the latest to open their doors is Ellery Motorsport Enterprises run by John Ellery and his son Luke, who is a former Formula Ford Champion and touring car driver. The business is involved in preparing and leasing open-wheel racing cars, mainly Kent or Duratec Formula Fords, but they also have a Mercedes-engined Formula 3 that is available to lease. Young drivers moving from kart racing are able to take advantage of Ellery’s successful experience in car set up and Luke’s mentoring when it comes to driving skill.
Following our Monthly Breakfast Club gathering, about 35 members of the Sporting Register accepted the invitation to visit EME’s new premises. John Ellery welcomed us and gave a run down of the business and explained the differences between the various cars they look after. As well as the massive race-car transporter which carries and can support four racing cars, the premises had a number of Formula cars in various stages of assembly and preparation. A glance around the workshop also gave some insight into the business’s other areas of expertise. A couple of Ford Escorts were receiving the Ellery treatment, and a turbo Nissan engine was being prepared for assembly on the spotless workbench. John Moore’s keen eye spotted a Sprite rear axle assembly on one of the mobile benches, which was probably not that far out of place seeing as John Ellery was once a member of the Austin Healey Sprite Drivers’ Club and a life time ago, competed in Sprites against John Moore, John Fowler and your editor.
It was intriguing to see the advanced technology and engineering behind a modern formula race car. Everything is beautifully crafted and made as light as possible. Most aspects of these cars’ performance are continuously monitored by an array of sensors which are shown as readouts on a digitised dashboard, and can be downloaded onto a computer for later analysis. By comparing the readouts of different drivers, it’s possible to hone their driving skills and race technique. Quite a bit different to racing a Bugeye !
Many thanks to John and Luke for making their business, as well as themselves, available for our visit, and to Graeme Longhurst, who made the initial contact with his neighbour John Ellery, and started the ball rolling.
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