Idle Torque: WA marshall remembered
Konrad Melle with a poster from the 1951 German Grand Prix, taken for a 2002 interview.

_ONE _ of WA's best-known motor racing officials, Konrad Melle, died from cancer on January 11, aged 75. Mr Melle was chief flag marshal at Barbagallo Raceway for many years and before that held a similar role at Caversham.

His work at dusty racetracks in far-flung WA would eventually lead to a Formula One odyssey, taking him to the world's most famous motor racing venues.

Following his work at Caversham and Barbagallo Raceway, in the late 1980s Mr Melle went to the F1 grand prix in Adelaide to work as a flag marshal.

Mr Melle's son Eddie said his father's experience in Adelaide reignited an F1 obsession that had been born decades earlier.

Throughout the 90s, Mr Melle flag marshalled at F1 races throughout Europe, including those held at Nurburgring, Hockenheim and Magny-Cours and Silverstone in the UK.

His work also took him to Donnington and Brands Hatch in the UK and Sepang in Malaysia.

However, Mr Melle's passion for motorsport dated back much further. In an interview in 2002, he gave me his eyewitness account of what was arguably the greatest ever motor racing victory.

That race was the 1957 German Grand Prix at the treacherous Nurburgring, won by Juan Manual Fangio in the equally legendary Maserati 250F.

Mr Melle said he was a flag marshal at the race and, lap by lap, recounted to me Fangio's astounding victory, where the renowned driver suffered a setback in the pits and then clawed back victory.

It was enthralling to have been told the story of this almost mythical event by a man who saw it unfold before him.

However, the circuit Mr Melle spent much more time at was Barbagallo Raceway and his time there isn't finished yet.

Eddie Melle said that after leaving the funeral home for his father's burial on January 24, the hearse will be driven to the Wanneroo racing facility, where it will circle the track for two final laps of honour before a cremation ceremony at Pinnaroo.


Your personal taste will dictate the stand-out among the 84 extraordinary cars being offered by RM Auctions in Arizona this morning, Perth time. For mine though, it's the beautiful 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Corto Spider pictured left, which according to RM's catalogue has been built "for showing and touring with ease and style".

The car started life as a short chassis saloon but was rebodied to a high standard in the 80s with coachwork in the Touring style.

If you'd like it, you'll need to be bidding in the style of about $660,000.

The West Australian

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