Beginnings of a pro racing driver

Beginnings of a pro racing driver

12 August 2012 | 3:55 pm

It all started for me when my mother won a local shopping centre raffle…

I was seven years old and the prize was a Pee Wee 50 motorbike. I loved that machine, but quickly realised that, while two wheels was fun, I fell off a lot. After competing in many races and consistently adding to my collection of multi-coloured bruises, I decided it would be best to progress to four wheels. That’s when we bought a go-kart.

My first road car was a late-70s TE Ford Cortina. It was a souped-up metallic purple pocket rocket and it set me back my life savings (all 16 years of them) gained by flipping burgers and being a petrol bowser boy. That car was my pride and joy and I meticulously looked after it.

I had already been racing karts for six years by this time. It was weird being allowed to race karts at over 100km/h, yet having to wait so many years to drive a road car at the learner permitted speed limit of 80km/h! I had been dealing with pressure in racing situations for six years by the time I went to gain my learner’s permit, but all that didn’t compare to the pressure of making sure I passed the test – I reckon plenty of you can relate to that as well.

After 11 years of karting, the opportunity to drive my first racing car came with a Formula Ford test. From then on it was an incredible journey as I went from one season of Formula Ford straight to V8 Supercars in 2003. I went from a great debut season into a lacklustre second and third, before joining Ford Performance Racing in 2006.

Life as a professional racing driver is very different to what I expected. From the outside, you would think I’m always driving racing cars. The truth is that I spend about 30 per cent of my time driving and about 70 per cent doing media, commercial and workshop-based obligations. I’m not complaining though, it’s pretty cool having an office that reaches top speeds of over 300km/h!

I’m currently enjoying my most competitive season to date, and after more than 20 years of hard work, I hope that this can be the year that I win my first V8 Supercar Championship – and the Holy Grail of our sport, the Bathurst 1000.

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