One-on-one with Brendan Ferrari – by Russell Colvin
At the opening round of the Swann Insurance eni FIM World Superbike Championship, the Phillip Island circuit celebrated a mile stone of twenty-five years of hosting the World Supers. No other circuit around the world has had such a long run in hosting a World Superbike Championship round.
With these major events, being the WSBK or MotoGP, or any big motor racing event such as the Australian Formula One Grand Prix or the Bathurst 1000, you need officials! It’s pretty simple, without these hard working men and woman who give up their time to sit out on the race track for three or four days in the roasting sun or freezing conditions, there would not be any motorsport racing – period!
We race fans, races; people in the media really should dip our hats to officials more often as they sometime are the ‘un-sung’ heroes of motorcycle racing and motorsport.
With Phillip Island hitting a land mark record of twenty-five years running of the WSBK there are eight officials who have done every single one of them since the championship came down under in 1990.
MCNews.com.au caught up with Brendan Ferrari, who is one of the eight officials who has seen all WSBK at Phillip Island.
MCNews.com.au: Twenty-five years on, your still coming down to the world supers; tell us, what keeps you coming back for more?
Brendan Ferrari: “I enjoy seeing people continually to improve. So when you see a guy out there perhaps you might have saw them as a junior, then coming through as a senior. For some of the Australians competing overseas, you have seen them almost through their whole career, you see them getting better and their enthusiastic and I want to help support them and encourage them to keep doing it.”
MCNews.com.au: So as its twenty-five years since the first ever WSBK race was held here and you have done them all. Is there a particular year that stands out for you, personally?
Brendan Ferrari: “The year that always stands out for me is 1992. 1992 had two things of note, it was the year that Stephane Mertens crashed on the main straight and the bike caught on fire. Mertens crashed coming onto the main straight more or less under the Melbourne Bridge. The bike got into a tank slapper, he got flung off it. He was injured and lying on the ground and the bike hit the wall, then stood up right and went all the way down the pit lane wall where all the team members were holding their pit boards had their numbers flicked by the bike as it was going past, it was that close! The bike eventually came to a stop after the finish line on the riders left on fire, and some of our officials ran out and put it out. So that was pretty spectacular.
“On the Saturday, the event had a six hour race. We had practice and qualifying for the World Supers, and then that night we had a six hour race. It started in the rain, and the thing I remember most, even though it was a wet night and most of the race was raced in the rain, at the end of the race it finally stopped raining. It was a wonderful finish to a race even though it finished at 9pm! So 1992 was something special. There are two things. The wet six hour and the wonderful race on the Sunday which included Stephane Mertens bike catching fire.”
MCNews.com.au: This weekend you are an Assistant Chief Marshal. You have obviously climbed the ranks during your years of being involved. So can you explain how you got into being an official?
Brendan Ferrari: “I started off as being an official by joining my local state volunteer flag marshal group doing things at club events, interclub events and state title events. I was attending as a flag marshal and doing that sort of role and I was doing that for a couple of years. Fortunately before the World Superbikes and MotoGP/500cc came to Phillip Island I was keen enough to head to Oran Park for the second running of the World Superbikes as a ‘tourist’. I stood on a spectator area and watched it and loved it and rode home at the end of the race.
“Ever since then I have been an official at Phillip Island for both the World Supers and the MotoGP also at Eastern Creek when it was formally called that.
“I’ve really enjoyed doing it. If you want to get into that sort of thing, it’s a volunteer role but if you want to get into that sort of thing, it’s wonderful! You get so much closer to the action; you can really see what the bikes are doing. You can almost feel the bike moving on the track when you are watching it. You are a part of the event, you help make the event work and most of all you get to enjoy it!
“And quite often on the Saturday and the Sunday night we will get some riders coming along and talk about how they have enjoyed the meeting and they thank the officials, which is very nice how they come along and encourage us.”
MCNews.com.au: Another thing, you are famous for that famous chequered flag waving technique that we have all seen from the side lines and on TV.
Brendan Ferrari: “I had a burst where I was waving the chequered flag and I really enjoyed waving the chequered! Having done the duties of waving the flag for so many years I have moved to a different role, and you can keep doing different roles. I can see a retirement for me with this sort of role in a couple of years and when I do, my probable preferred spot is to go flagging, because I would love to be back on a corner and watching the racing.”
MCNews.com.au: How did you do that chequered flag waving technique?
Brendan Ferrari: It’s a flick of the wrist.. It’s all in the wrist. (laughs)
MCNews.com.au: Brendan, thanks very much for your time, yourself and the rest of crew do a great job.
Brendan Ferrari: Thanks very much!