Van go master­piece

Herald Sun - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE CONFIDENTIAL - Twit­ter @PaulWard­Gover

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.

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