THE WA Motor Museum last night got its most valuable vehicle: the 2014 Red Bull Racing F1 car in which Daniel Ricciardo won his first grand prix – and there to present the car and open the museum’s new extension, was the man himself.
Duncraig born and raised Ricciardo, widely known as the Honey Badger because of his generous smile and a picture of the animal on the back of his helmet, is home for a few days between the grands prix of Singapore and Malaysia and managed to find time to not only open the $2million extension, but to also provide it with his GP-winning car.
The car, worth about $2 million, in which he won his first GP in Montreal on June 8, 2014, is on permanent loan to the museum, where it will be a major drawcard.
The 27-year-old said he was honoured to open the new 2000sqm extension, which doubled the museum’s original capacity.
‘I first came here as a young kid and I’m super honoured to see my first GP- winning car on display
here,’ he said.
Premier Mark McGowan said it was correct to describe Ricciardo as the ‘most famous West Australian in the entire world in the modern era’ – echoing Singapore podium compere Eddie Irvine’s introduction of Ricciardo as ‘the pride of Australia’ – and then mentioned the ripper media conference after the Singapore Grand Prix.
‘I express myself verbally,’ he said. ‘He (Ricciardo) expresses himself in other ways,’ referring to the laughing Honey Badger’s melodic tenor flatulence which left Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas with tears in his eyes and unable to speak as he stifled his mirth.
Ricciardo unveiled a plaque to open the museum extension, and celebrated with the Premier, curator John McLean, museum chairman Kelvin Ferris and other dignitaries via ‘shoeys’ – drinking champagne from shoes, although the museum provided small glass boots for the occasion.
Mr Ferris said it took nearly a year to organise Ricciardo’s attendance, and keeping it quiet was the hardest part.
The museum now houses 125 vintage and classic cars 75 motorbikes, a $1.2million model car collection and has more than 13,000 motoring publications and workshop manuals and an education facility for school and community groups.
Thousands of historic photographs line the walls.
The extension, a five-year project, was funded by a LotteryWest grant and private and corporate donors.
Daniel Ricciardo’s parents, Joe and Grace, were quietly proud of their son, and will attend the Malaysian Grand Prix on October 1.
What of the future?
Would you be driving a Formula E (electric) car five years hence, Ricciardo was asked.
‘Hopefully not,’ he said.
‘They’re getting really fast, but I’m a F1 driver and I think F1 will still have a good few years left.
‘Formula E might be for the longer term.’
His next event will be a family gathering in Perth for the christening of a nephew, then it’s off to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
F1 star Daniel Ricciardo and Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan pose for the cameras with the Red Bull Renault that took Ricciardo to his first Grand Prix win. Photos: Sanja Aksamija