YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

World 600 : This Good Ol' Boy Talks With an Australian Accent

May 24, 1987|Associated Press

HARRISBURG, N.C. — He drives a "motor car," and his friends are "mates" and "blokes."

He's Allan Grice of Australia, the 36th starter in the 42-car field for today's Coca-Cola World 600.

The four hour-plus race will be a culmination of an effort estimated to cost $300,000 to transport the cars and crews of Grice and fellow Australian driver Graeme Crosby to the United States for the race.

Crosby failed to make the field.

"He's run better laps than me here," Grice said of Crosby. "But it takes a lot of experience to be able to put the laps down when the man tells you to. We qualified and that was what we set out to do."

Grice and Crosby and their contingent have been in the United States for about three weeks in preparation for this race. It's a long, expensive process, but the group hopes it pays off later in the year.

"We just came to get as much experience on this type of track as we could," Grice said.

The reason for all the effort is a move by Australian Bob Jane to bring stock car racing to Australia. Jane, a wealthy businessman and former racer, is building a $50 million oval track near Melbourne.

The track, named Thunderdome, has been modeled after Charlotte Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile tri-oval but will be slightly smaller.

It is nearing completion, with testing to begin in earnest after it is finished. The Australians are preparing for a $1-million exhibition race in late November that they hope will draw as many as 10 of stock car's racing biggest names.

"NASCAR racing is pretty well reported in Australia," Grice said. "The Daytona 500 is televised every year and the 600 here will be televised back home."

Grice, 44, is an established star in his homeland--a national champion on the road courses who is known for his all-out driving style. But here he's just learning the ropes.

"I'm used to be up there (on the starting grid) around one or two," Grice said.

Los Angeles Times Articles