Chariots of Thunder tour – August 2021
We are offering this tour again in 2022, irrespective of whether our USA Mega Month of Money also goes away in 2022. It will be a tight turnaround after returning from the Knoxville Nationals, but we’ll get it done.
Our apologies if you have missed out for Darwin this year, but if you are keen to travel with us in 2022, please call Peter Physick on 0419 264159, or use the Contact Us link to send an e-mail to get your name at the top of the list for next year.
Getting tired of not being able to tour while our flight paths to the USA are closed for a while longer?
Well now you can! Why not take a trip to Darwin for 13 days to watch all four nights of the Northline Speedway’s Chariots of Thunder extravaganza from August 18th through to the 30th?
The itinerary is below and this whole page sets out the tour storyline day by day, the pricing and the inclusions.
Don’t forget to click on every piece of underlined orange text. It’s a hyperlink with loads more info for you to read.
If you would prefer a printable version in PDF format, please click here.
Day 1 – Wednesday August 18th
Depart (your home capital city) for Darwin and the 2021 Chariots of Thunder (CoT) tour. Hopefully we can get you on a direct flight, otherwise be prepared for a stop along the way somewhere. Ayers Rock and Uluru anyone? On arrival in Darwin you will be transported via courtesy bus to the Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter (the Zen) in the Waterfront Precinct.
With people arriving at different times, there are no official events planned for the balance of today, other than an optional evening meal together in the hotel, or at a venue nearby. Maybe it could be the Cavenagh Hotel? Or check out these two links which will also help for other days. The 20 best restaurants in Darwin and Tripadvisor’s guide to restaurants in Darwin.
Day 2 – Thursday August 19th
Every morning of your stay in the Zen Ramada, an included ala carte breakfast is available in the Horizen Café. It used to be a giant buffet breakfast, but Covid-19 took care of that, along with many other things in the world of food service. Even though you have cooking facilities in your apartment, we have included an $18 breakfast every day. Unless otherwise noted in the daily descriptions, it is the only meal provided on the tour.
Midday today is our first group excursion when we wander the six blocks down close to the waterfront, not just for lunch, but for the official Chariots of Thunder motorcade with sprintcars firing up to take a trip along Mitchell Street. Although, from the CoT official video, it looks to me that they are tethered behind the push cars. But with motors running ….. a great sight to see.
Sunsets in Darwin are legendary and here are five places to watch them from. Be mindful however that next Tuesday you will be out on the harbour watching from a chartered boat, so please don’t do that one just yet. We recommend that tonight as a group you make your way to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, a great place to eat, drink and watch the sun drop from the sky. Global Speedway Tours will have tables and chairs set aside in the Sunset VIP area on the lawn for our official tour welcome drinks, seeing as how some of our guests are likely to have only arrived late last night. You won’t have any difficulty in finding any variety of food that takes your fancy. Take a look at this list! And we’ll give you $20.00 of Mindil Money to put towards your dinner. Not only that, the GST eskies will be available and stocked up for complimentary drinks. It should be a super night.
Day 3 – Friday August 20th
From 9.00am this morning we will have the use of two 12-seater mini-buses for Friday and Saturday. Primarily they are to get us to and from the speedway tonight and tomorrow night. And similarly, on the following weekend.
The buses will leave the Zen for the track each race day at 4.00pm, so between 9.30am and 3.00pm on each of today and tomorrow, the buses will be available to transport guests to selected tourist spots. Once we know who and how many are travelling on the tour, we will canvass the views of everybody to determine what are the most popular destinations. We can then make the calls on where the buses will go.
They are not available to travel to the long-distance destinations of Kakadu or Katherine Gorge, just simply in and around Darwin. But if enough agree, we may be able to take them to Litchfield National Park for a whole day next Tuesday. (See further comments on that day’s description.) So, please do some homework on what you would like to see in Darwin for when the vote takes place prior to the tour. Some suggested websites to look at are shown below.
- Darwin and surrounds
- Visit Darwin
- Darwin: Top 10 tours and activities
- Darwin cruises and boat tours
- Fishing charters Full / Half day – Darwin Harbour
Whatever is done in the morning and afternoon, all guests must be back at the Zen ready to leave on the buses at 4.00pm to 7Mate Northline Speedway.
20 mins later we’ll be at the track and getting off with us will be the famous GST eskies ready for some popular car park tailgating. Sadly how-ever, $1 beers and $2 bourbons are not possible in Australia, so we’ll have to deal with $3 beers and $5 bourbons on this trip. Regretfully we need to pay for ice, which we never have to in the USA thanks to the hotel ice machines!
For every night at the speedway, we have admittance tickets to the Chariots Lounge, an indoor air-conditioned area with cash bar and access to food and toilets, plus an alfresco area on a large outdoor balcony allowing you dual viewing choices to suit your preference. Or at times, maybe just wander off around the complex and meet the locals.
Admittance to the track and the Chariots Lounge are included as part of the tour price, however drinks and food are your own expense. It’s doubtful we can get the eskies up there ….
Day 4 – Saturday August 21st
The morning and afternoon are free to take advantage of the mini buses up until 4.00pm when we will again use the buses to get us back to the speedway. We will work out where they take us at a later date, once we know final numbers. As with any Global Speedway Tours offer, you are assured that a big effort will be made to fulfil every request, if at all possible.
Night 2 sees all three categories of winged sprintcars, wingless sprintcars and speedcars (midgets for the traditional amongst us) return after last night’s racing. There is no format available yet but this story by Jacalin Ekins might be of interest.
Global Speedway Tours will run a sweep on each night’s winged sprintcar feature race. If we get our maximum number of 24 on the tour, that just so happens to equal the number of cars who usually start an A main.
Exactly enough for each tour member to have a car in the sweep. If we don’t have 24 on the trip, then tour members have the chance of buying more than one entry.
$5 will buy you a number between 1-24, drawn out of a hat at our tailgating drinks each afternoon. The number you draw and now own, will be the car which starts in that position in the feature. Given that the pool will be $120 per night, then we will offer 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizemoney.
And to give those who draw a high number a reasonable chance to win as well, the first car to flip in the feature will pay $40.00. Jackpotting to the next night, if not won. If there is a multiple simultaneous flip, the prize will be split. And finally, if there is no flip on the final night’s feature, it will be donated to someone at Peter’s discretion!!
Day 5 – Sunday August 22nd
Today we get involved in the official Chariots of Thunder Street Party conducted at the Cavenagh Hotel by the Northline Speedway. Just a mere seven-minute walk from the Zen will see you relaxing at the venue ready for whatever happens at a Darwin street party!! Given it’s Darwin, that could be anything. At least it’s not far to get “home”.
The whole day is yours at the Street party, or some sightseeing around town. Or a few hours at the party and then relaxing at the Hotel in the pool, or taking it easy in the rooftop lounge.
Day 6 – Monday August 23rd
Today is set aside for you to consider a full day tour to somewhere like Jabiru in Kakadu National Park, or Katherine Gorge. Both are massive full day tours with a 6.30am pick up from the Zen. In some cases, you do not return to the Hotel before 8.30pm.
The following links will be helpful for you in deciding firstly if you want to take a tour, and if so, to where and which one. There are quite a few options and the links we have shown here are by no means the full complement. You may find other tours that you prefer after talking with friends who have been to Darwin before, or by browsing the internet.
If you do decide to take a tour let me know which one, so a group booking can be obtained if possible.
Please note that Wednesday is set aside for us to travel to Litchfield National Park in the mini buses. It is only 145 kms down there and the same to get back, so is easily doable in a small coach.
See August 25th for details.
If you choose not to travel on a tour then the whole day in Darwin is free from any organised events.
Day 7 – Tuesday August 24th
If you toured yesterday, you’ll need the majority of the day to restore your energies. Cos there is still plenty to get done before leaving this city next Monday. Hence there is nothing planned for the hottest part of today.
But at 5.00pm the buses will leave the Zen for Stokes Hill Wharf because tonight is party night with fish and chips for dinner. With a twist. You have to board a boat for 90 minutes and travel out into Darwin Harbour with Sea Darwin’s Sunset Cruise. If we have a minimum of 20 on the tour, we’ll have the whole boat to ourselves. The cost is included within the overall tour price, so we expect a full house.
Our skipper will use his local knowledge to take us to the best place to enjoy the delightfully warm breeze, an exquisite tropical sunset and a harbour full of intrigue. The tide, wind, weather and the season will be considered as the Captain turns the boat in any particular direction.
We may experience taking a chair out onto a Fannie Bay sandbar to eat, or maybe enjoy the meal amongst a pod of frolicking dolphins, or dugong. Sometimes he takes the boat to the Sadgroves bird sanctuary and on other occasions he’ll just cruise around the glistening harbour, taking in nature’s extraordinarily coloured sky at this time of day – it’s like a giant work of art.
You get to keep the glass or stubbie holder that came with your first drink. The rest are at your expense. At the conclusion of our cruise the boat will let us off either at the Mindil Beach Casino, or at the Stokes Hill wharf where we boarded. The buses will be available to make trips back to our hotel several times if required.
Just like getting home from Dingus when you think about it …..
Day 8 – Wednesday August 25th
Instead of a commercial tour, such as has been suggested for Kakadu and Katherine Gorge, Litchfield National Park is doable in the 12-seater mini buses, given it is only a 145 km trip there and the same back. We do way more than that every day when touring the USA, but we won’t have the benefit of an experienced guide as you will on the commercial tours. Nevertheless, it will be very cost efficient.
Firstly, here are some links that will introduce you to Litchfield and various day tours there.
Litchfield National Park Destination Guide
Litchfield Day Tour From Darwin | Batchelor, Berry Springs. Litchfield Park
Litchfield Park Tour & Jumping Crocodile Cruise
A Guide to Litchfield National Park | Bookmundi
The cost for today has not been included in the overall CoT tour price, as it rightly should be considered as an optional tour, like the ones to Kakadu and Katherine Gorge. However, we believe that we can do the whole day for $55 per person. There are no additional park fees to be incurred, just your lunch and fluids. Don’t forget your bathers, cossies or swimmers. And a camera.
Lunch will be at the Wangi Falls Café at some point of the tour! If we can fit the eskies on board, we will. No doubt they will assist with regular hydration.
You will be asked to indicate on the Booking Form if you want to do this tour and if so, payment is to be made to Peter while in Darwin.
It should be a magnificent day of sightseeing and fun …..
Day 9 – Thursday August 26th
We will still have the buses available today, so whatever you choose to do can, within reason, be managed. For what it’s worth, I’ll be taking one bus to the Darwin Military Museum voted the #1 attraction in the city. Open from 10.00am ‘til 3.30pm, it is recommended you allow 90 minutes to view it. Entry price is $20 / adult, or $15 for those with an interstate senior’s pass.
Maybe you had a relative, like my Dad, who was in Darwin when it was bombed in WW2. He survived thank goodness, but I’ve never seen where he may have been when 188 Japanese aircraft attacked Darwin on February 19th 1942.
To get there we might replicate the route around the city trail taken by the open top double decker Hop On Hop Off Buses just to make sure we haven’t missed anything in the last week!!
At around 4.00pm the buses can drop you off on the doorstep of the official CoT Fan Appreciation night at the Precinct. Or you can return to the Zen and make your way later on to the Precinct. It’s only a 12 minute or so walk.
The Precinct Tavern on the Darwin Waterfront is a magnificent setting against the stunning backdrop of Darwin’s harbour. You’re on your own from now on for the night.
Day 10 – Friday August 27th
So much has been done so far, but probably not much washing, e-mailing, or phoning home, so today you can do all that stuff. No available transport on hand as we won’t pick the buses up again until 4.00pm when we leave for night 3 of Chariots of Thunder.
Whether we find a tree like where we tailgate at Knoxville and Volusia remains to be seen, but that is Russell’s job to see if he can make a tree pop out at us.
Back in the Chariots Lounge the clay will once again fly high up onto the deck with dirt in the bottom of your beer glass …. or down your cleavage. (Hi Jane!) The sprintcar sweep is on again and numbers will have been drawn under the shade of Russell’s tree.
Day 11 – Saturday August 28th
Mini-bus transport will be with us all day for ferrying folks around. One thought from left field is a Global Speedway Tours Grand Prix at Darwin Kart Hire. Given there is sufficient interest and we have plenty of notice, a group booking could be made for 10.00am this morning to test the nerves of loved ones who aren’t there to watch! Not sure how fast the hire karts are, but the website speaks highly of them as to be expected. Here’s some video to make an assessment. You can tick a box on the Booking Form to indicate your interest.
At 4.00pm we’ll once again head out along the quaintly named Tiger Brennan Drive, via the lookout at Charles Darwin National Park, to Hidden Valley and the final night of Chariots of Thunder. If you’re tired of track food at this stage, there’s a Subway at Berrimah we can stop at for supplies.
Hope you enjoy the biggest night of the year for Northline Speedway as they bring their season to a close for 2021.
Day 12 – Sunday August 29th
On our Month of Money tours, the departure from Knoxville is always delayed by 24 hours because we prefer to factor in a rain date. There’s no point in going at all if you’re going to miss the event you travelled all that way for. I asked Jacalin Ekins whether they would have Sunday as their standby day in the event of a rain out on Saturday.
Her response was “Due to the time of year we hold racing, it is extremely unlikely we would receive rain in August; it’s almost unheard of. However, we would look to race on the Sunday should that become an issue.”
We could go home today but we won’t, preferring to stay one more night just in case. Besides there will be more flight seats available on the Monday.
So, we will have the buses again today up until 3.00pm and the whole day is free to double up on that favourite place you liked, or catch up on something you missed.
We’ll make dinner tonight a group function, so we can farewell Darwin in style. As in the USA we’ll make the final night a themed one and choose a cuisine to celebrate a wonderful time in Darwin. Making sure it’s within walking distance of course ….. Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Kangaroo??
Day 13 – Monday August 30th
Sadly, it’s now time to say your goodbyes to old friends and new and get ready to leave Darwin for all ports south. There will be various times of departure today ranging from (very) early am to late afternoon.
We will arrange for the Hotel’s shuttle to get you out to the airport at the appointed time to ensure you are ready for check-in and boarding. The cost of the shuttle will be included in the tour price.
Good luck and thanks for travelling with Global Speedway Tours …..
mobile: 0419 264159
Please contact Peter at Global Speedway Tours via this link if you would like to accompany us on this excellent tour. The 24 spots will go very quickly.
See below for descriptions of the three accommodation options.
Harbourview apartment $3,495.00 per person (based on 2 people sharing)
Twin bed apartment $3,650.00 per person (based on 2 people sharing)
Two-bedroom apartment $4,530.00 per person (based on 2 people sharing)
Inclusions in your tour price are: 12 night’s accommodation, breakfast every morning, an airfare credit of $700.00, (any less you get a refund – any more and you pay the extra), airport transfers, ground transport as comprehensively described in the itinerary, welcome drinks in the VIP area and Mindil Money on Day 2 at the Sunset Markets, four night’s track admission and passes to the Chariots Lounge at Northline Speedway, access to the GST $ eskys, the Chariots of Thunder Motorcade, Fan Appreciation night, the Street party, the Fish and Chips Sunset cruise, opportunity to go on a commercial coach tour to Kakadu or Katherine Gorge, Global Speedway Tours’ mini bus day trip to Litchfield National Park ($55 optional extra) and tons of fun that comes free …..
We will be taking a maximum of 24 people on this tour.
Note: There are many room types in the Ramada Zen, all of which are serviced hotel apartments. All rooms contain a full kitchen, washing machine/dryer and cooking implements. Please click this self-contained Hotel Room Types at Ramada Suites Darwin link which will show you all seven. For simplicity, we have chosen three separate types and negotiated rates accordingly. All include breakfast.
Executive Harbourview apartments: Suitable for married couples and the most economical. One queen bed.
Twin Room apartments: Also suitable for married couples, but mainly for sharing with someone “you don’t wish to sleep in the same bed with”! Has a separate bedroom with a queen bed and a single bed.
Two-bedroom apartments: Suitable for two individuals who want their own bedroom and privacy. As the name implies this apartment has two separate bedrooms each with a queen bed. Hence the increased price.
As a result, there are three different tour prices. Your Booking Form will reflect this and you will be asked which option you want. If you are travelling on your own, please indicate whether you want to be in a Twin Room, or a Two Bedroom Apartment. We will do our best to match you up with someone who wants the same option. If we can’t, we’ll talk to you about an outcome.
If you’d like to see 568 photos from past clients of the Zen, please click here.
The Ramada Zen breakfast menu. You have up to $18 credit each morning to spend. You can have more, but the balance will finish up on your room account.