WORDS BY ADAM DICKINSON | IMAGES BY RED BULL / MCLAREN / IOC
The 2022 Commonwealth Games came to a spectacular close in Birmingham on Monday with the baton passed to Victoria, Australia for 2026.
Fans down under will already be looking forward to watching the stars of athletics, cycling, gymnastics and swimming but could they see motorsport added to that sporting palette?
There’s lots of options for formats but right now the only event truly comparable is the Race of Champions.
Identical cars on a stadium track, it takes a leaf out of the pursuit in track cycling and looks a great spectacle, and has a pool stage followed by a knockout format that’d be transferable to the Commonwealths too.
Head-to-head races taking less than a minute, it would take team strength out of the equation and would be a chance for a domestic manufacturer to show off their best coupe, maybe a Holden Commodore for 2026? Or an electric version in keeping with the Games’ environmental aims?
A maximum of two or three drivers per country, it’d be a unique stage for motorsport and would give fans a view of stars from other championships like IndyCar and World Endurance Championship.
And there is a precedent for motorsports at major international events like the Commonwealths, but on an even bigger platform - the Olympics.
The 1900 Paris Games featured motor racing thanks largely to a chaotic situation in the amateurish early beginnings of the Olympics, where they were a sideshow to the World Fair.
The International Olympic Committee never decided which World Fair sports were Olympic and which weren’t, so fishing, ballooning, fire fighting and pigeon racing all took part, but aren’t listed in the record books.
Motor racing is in that category too but there were still some interesting events - a seven-seater race where the gold wasn’t awarded, taxi and delivery van races split into petrol and electric, and even a fire truck race won by American Gilbert Brown.
He’s one of only two known winners from the event thanks to another quirk - the manufacturer was registered rather than the driver so most of the individuals involved are lost to history.
So it’s fair to say motorsport would look a bit different at the next Commonwealth Games than it did at the Olympics 126 years before.
So how likely is that? We asked the Victoria 2026 team if they’d consider motorsport for the games, but they declined to respond.
However, we spoke to someone else at the Commonwealth Games Foundation, who outlined the process for a sport becoming part of the games.
The Victoria team is currently taking submissions of interest from sports outside the usual programme, it’s believed over 20 have expressed interest so far.
That window closes next week on 19 August, from there the team will recommend around three to five sports to the CGF, to be approved in late September.
So the onus is on any motorsports to apply within a week, which feels unlikely. But if a miracle did happen, what could a potential grid look like?
In this scenario we’ve allotted 16 drivers, with a maximum of two per country, but since the games will be in Australia, the reigning V8 Supercars champion gets a seat guaranteed. Why not? It’s all just a bit of fun, and we had one seat left over.
England - George Russell, Lewis Hamilton
Australia - Daniel Ricciardo, Oscar Piastri
New Zealand - Scott Dixon, Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen
Canada - Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latiifi
Scotland - David Coulthard, Paul di Resta
India - Jehan Daruvala, Kush Maini
South Africa - Jonathan Aberdein, Raoul Hyman
Barbados - Zane Maloney
Cayman Islands - Kyffin Simpson (also eligible for Barbados)
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