Port Macquarie business owner, Michael Page has been racing speedboats for more than 30 years, recording many top results in the Australian Formula 1 Superboat Series. We talk to him about his racing career, the annual race held in memory of his late son and his hopes for the 2007 competition season.
> How did you break into the Australian Formula 1 Series?
I had been competing in powerboat racing for a number of years and it was a natural progression to be in the top class. I have been racing boats since 1976 and after a particularly bad accident in 1988 made my way back into the sport at the Gold Coast round of F1. I raced in the then F3 class and soon progressed to F2. In 1994 I bought my F1 boat which I still have. In the last 2 years I have raced 4 different boats.
> Powerboat racing is not a cheap sport, how do you manage to meet your costs?
Like all motorsports, powerboat competition is fairly costly depending on how you approach it and of course what your budget is. We have always sought as much sponsorship as is available and topped that up with our own savings.
> Are you looking for extra sponsorship at the moment?
Yes, we are currently looking for sponsors – major down to minor.
> You’ve recorded some excellent results over the years at a national level. What have been the highlights of your racing career?
Several good results over the years including state and national titles, the odd pole position, round and race wins in F1 and many 2nd placings for the year in F1. However the most memorable was a hard fought win in the Andrew Page Invitational at Taree in 2001, which is a race held in memory of our late son.
> It’s nearly 8 years now since you lost your son and 7 years since the first Andrew Page Invitational race was held in his honour. What made you decide to establish the race and was it difficult to get started?
Andrew was always at the boat racing and usually in everyone’s pit space talking and looking. He could walk up to anyone, anytime and talk to them and have a bit of fun, whereas some other drivers and crew were a bit restricted as to when they could talk to certain people. Wet or dry he was large as life and full of fun and mischief.
In 1999 he was at the flooded out Easter regatta held at Taree. The portion of the carnival that could not be run at Easter was rescheduled to be held on the 10th July 1999.
Andrews’s operation was carried out on the 24th May and he passed away on the 24th June 1999. His funeral was held on the 1st July 1999 with most of the boaties in attendance. They virtually told me that Andrew would have wanted me to keep racing and to be at the rerun which in fact he did. Andrew also told me to keep the old orange boat which we also have done.
After the July rerun a few drivers and officials suggested that Andrew’s ambition of seeing the F1 boats all race as one, instead of the two separate clubs at the time, be realised by holding a memorial invitational event each year in conjunction with the Taree F1 race meeting.
The first “Andrew” race was held at Taree in the 2000 season and is also used as a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis. Several thousand dollars have been raised each year for this charity by auctioning off boating and other memorabilia as well as electrical and other goods.
This race and trophy is most sought after by all the drivers and teams each year and is made all the more special as fellow F1 driver, David Trask, also lost a relative to Cystic Fibrosis shortly after Andrew’s passing.
> How did you perform in the 2006 Formula 1 season?
In 2006 we should have done a lot better than our 3rd placing for the year, but several incidents put paid to that. In the end we were glad to be on the podium in one of the toughest and hard fought years on the circuit.
> For the first time since 1994 you aren’t competing in the F1 Class this year, due to financial constraints. You are however contesting a new division of the F2 Class which has been introduced for the 2007 competition. Tell us a little more about this new divison…
This is a new class consisting of F1 sized boats running STOCK V6 Mercury 2.0 litre outboards instead of the 2.5 litre engines that F1 use. Our top speed in F2 is only 180 kilometres per hour instead of the approximately 210 kilometres per hour that F1 boats do.
> Round One was cancelled, which meant Round Two at Toukley was your first event for 2007- how did your team go?
We only put a borrowed boat together a few days prior due to work commitments and I drove it for the first time in Saturday practice. It took a bit of sorting but we qualified a close 2nd behind the fancied Trask Team, with young gun Grant doing the driving duties. The weekend was short lived with a mechanical problem putting us out when we were leading, with one lap to go, at the end of Race One. At least we showed once and for all that the Trasks can be beaten.
> Local fans will have the opportunity to watch your team in action on the Mid North Coast in June and July– when and where are the next few rounds being held?
Our next race is in Newcastle on the long weekend from the 10th of June, followed by Taree on the 24th of June, with the running of the Andrew Page race also taking place, coincidently on the 8th anniversary of his passing, which will be a special moment. We then move on to Port Macquarie on the 22nd of July and the Gold Coast and Penrith later in the year.
> You obviously love your sport- what drives you to keep competing in powerboat racing?
My passion for the sport and desire to push the limits, as well as trying to beat the young guns coming through the sport at the moment.
> What are your main goals for the future?
Our team would like to win F2 as well as getting the budget and opportunity to compete in F1 and F2 in the same year hopefully doing very well in both.
> Thank you for your time Michael and good luck this season.
For the latest news on the 2007 Superboat season visit the official website www.f1boat.com.au