Cars hit Adelaide Streets on Friday

ADELAIDE, Australia (Dec. 28) -- After more than a year of buildup, the "Race of a Thousand Years" on the famed Adelaide street circuit has arrived, and cars from the American Le Mans Series will begin practice runs on Friday. A crowd of more...

ADELAIDE, Australia (Dec. 28) -- After more than a year of buildup, the "Race of a Thousand Years" on the famed Adelaide street circuit has arrived, and cars from the American Le Mans Series will begin practice runs on Friday.

A crowd of more than 100,000 is expected to line the 2.39-mile circuit for Sunday's six-hour sports car endurance race, the first in Australia for the racing series created two years ago by entrepreneur Don Panoz.

The race has been genuinely accepted by the public and by the Australian media. Drivers and cars have been on national television and in the major city daily newspapers for weeks. Ticket sales have been brisk for the first international event to be held on the circuit since the last Formula One race six years ago.

Twenty-six cars will contest the event, most having traveled to Australia by air or sea from the United States and Europe.

Australian David Brabham, a regular competitor on the ALMS, is a natural crowd favorite and will co-drive with Jason Bright of Australia and Greg Murphy of New Zealand in an "All Down Under" team.

"I'm delighted to be racing at home in such a big event," said Brabham, who formerly competed on the Adelaide circuit as an F1 driver. "I love this circuit, and I think our cars will run very well here. It's exciting to be here."

On Thursday, Brabham and his teammates posed for pictures wearing khaki crocodile hunter clothing, replete with hats and high-powered rifles. One of their primary competitors in the race will be an Audi R8 race car painted to resemble a crocodile, a tribute by Audi to the Australian hosts of the race. Brabham's team has been dubbed "The Crocodile Hunters."

Scotland's Allan McNish, who will co-drive the crocodile-motif car with Italy's Rinaldo Capello, will clinch the ALMS driving championship in the event. McNish and Capello have co-driven to wins in five of the last seven ALMS races.

Friday will be a day of practice, with qualifying set for Saturday. The race begins at 4 p.m. (Adelaide time) on Sunday.

-Andy Hall

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