Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sydney V8 Experience

So I see a Facebook post about winning a ride in a Mercedes V8 Supercar at Sydney's Eastern Creek – who wouldn't want to win that, right?

I fill out the details and submit the entry, not expecting to hear back. I can't recall ever winning anything in the past, apart from the occasional 20 bucks in lotto.

Surprise, surprise, I win!

Having been recently retrenched from work it seemed like a nice change of pace, and with a birthday a few days before the ride, it was perfect timing.

Driving to Sydney I began to think about the ride. I'd been in similar race cars before, but nothing of the calibre of a real V8 Supercar, and Eastern Creek is certainly enough to get the blood pumping.

Staying in a motel across the road from the track gave me plenty of time to walk around, look across the track and ponder the ride. I was pumped!

Looking across from the motel room to Sydney Motorsport Park.
I arrived at the track early to check out the cars, and those stunning Western Star transporters.

 Love those Western Stars.

I watched the reaction of others in the pits waiting for and returning from their rides. A broad grin from all was the telling factor. I was tingling with nervous anticipation.

 Just hanging around in the pits.

 A quick snap from the roof.

After snapping a few photos with the iPhone I bumped into Betty and managed a quick chat.

Then it was my turn.

I sat in the hot seat, race suit and helmet on, waiting for the Irwin Racing AMG to roll up.

Seat belts were fastened, Lee Holdsworth looked across and said, “let's do it”, and so it began.

It's time.

On exiting pit lane it was immediately apparent this was going to be no stroll in the park. I could feel the car twitching on the edge of grip and wondered how we were going to navigate the same corner at race speed, on the race line. But of course there was the twisty section around the back of the course to contend with first.

Lee wasn't holding back, throwing the car wide and cutting across the curbs, providing a real race experience. I was being jolted around the tight confines of the cabin, and my grin grew wider with each turn.

Hammering down the main straight and turn one beckoned fast. A dab of the brakes, a lower gear and we powered on through. Absolutely amazing!

The G-forces around the track left a real impression of what these blokes go through on a regular basis. Their bodies must take a beating and it really gave me a renewed appreciation for the sport.

A quick chat after the ride.

And of course Lee was more than happy to have a chat after the ride, casually noting that 220 kph through turn one is one of the fastest sections in the country, comparable to Phillip Island.

“Were we doing 220 through there?” I quizzed.

“Yeah about that,” he said.


Thanks have to go to sponsor ihear for the opportunity, and of course Betty Klimenko and the Erebus racing team for making it all possible.

I've always been a Ford man, and I doubt that will ever really change, but I've been an avid follower of the AMGs since they joined the Supercar ranks.

While speaking to Lee he suggested more people were following drivers rather than particular marques these days. I've followed Brad Jones Racing since working for a weekly paper in Albury, more on a professional basis, and enjoyed it, but I've never really strayed from the Blue Oval personally.

Having said that, the sport itself is what excites me. Being track-side at an event, wandering around the pits, or walking around the track taking photos adds another dimension to what we all watch on TV. I remember taking a previous editor to Winton a few years back, not an avid race fan, and he was instantly hooked.

Whatever brand you follow, it's all about the spectacle, and I reckon it doesn't get much better than V8 Supercars.

But these AMGs – I just love the look of them, the sound of them – I guess you could say Erebus has become my new V8 race team.

Come Winton this weekend, I know who I'll be cheering for.

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