Van go masterpiece
LOTS of people have a Sandman story and this is mine.
It’s definitely the newest, since it was only written on Sunday morning on the streets of Surfers in the newest Sandman of them all. And it’s all Roland Dane’s fault.
The boss of the Red Bull Racing team is the man who decided to transform a superannuated V8 Supercar into a born-again Holden panel van, then asked young gun Andrew Thompson to give up his weekend for some chauffeur work, and finally blustered me into taking a ride.
“Come on. What are you, a coward?” he says.
That’s exactly how I feel as Thomomo idles down to the end of the pitlane.
“Ah, don’t worry. It’s pretty good. Mostly ...,” he tells me as we wait for the green light.
Mostly what? I know it will crank up to 240km/h but I wonder how the Sandman bodywork will work over the top of a genuine race car just like those handled by Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowdnes.
I don’t have long to wait. He drops the clutch, the rear wheels spin madly and dissolve into tyre smoke, and then we’re in fourth gear and heading for the hairpin.
It takes most of the first lap for my brain to catch up with my eyeballs. The scenery is firing at me, the concrete canyons create a giant V8 thunder chamber, and I can see skid marks and gouges where cars have smacked walls.
My ride is actually better than a V8 Supercar, since the Sandman has a Formula Onestyle paddle gearchange and grippy Michelin tyres, but it still gets nasty at times.
Especially when Thompson locks the back wheels at 200km/h into the first turn and the car jumps sideways.
He gathers it up before I realise we’re in trouble, then pushes hard for the rest of the lap. Now I can see and feel what the racers feel, from the heat in the cabin to the wheelspin out of the slow corners and the effort required to keep the car under control and pointing down the road.
Then it’s over. We roll back into the pits and a huge crowd gawks at Holden’s new hero car.
“Well, what did you think?” Thompson grins. “Honestly, I’m not sure,” I say. It takes a minute for my heart rate to drop enough for me to reflect. And then I realise I’ve just ridden in the world’s fastest Sandman. History indeed.