You are now 42 – two years older than John Bowe was when you famously drove around the outside of him at age 20 in Bathurst in 1994. If some punk tries the same move on you this October, how will you react? I’d be excited and I’d be proud. I was the baby-faced kid who came out of nowhere at the time – back then the average age of drivers was like 45. No doubt the category has evolved. And when I did that, John Bowe was very kind both on the race track and in his words. It definitely helped me become who I am. You’ve just signed a new two-year contract with Triple Eight Race Engineering, quashing rumours of retirement. But where do you want to drive your final laps – the Bathurst 1000, the Indianapolis 500 or the 24 Hours of Le Mans? My dream growing up was always the Le Mans [in France]. Considering I’ve won a couple of Bathursts and got to sit in the grandstands at the Indy, I think Le Mans would have to be the ultimate race. You are also a Red Bull driver. Do you prefer it straight or in a mixer? I got to go to the head office in Europe a couple of years ago – they’ve got slightly different flavours over there. I actually really like the cola one, but we don’t have it here. So the summer edition – the yellow one – is probably my favourite. And I drink it straight. Does the leg injury from your 1999 crash in Calder Park in Melbourne still give you grief today? Whenever I go to a cold climate, it does ache. Anyone who’s had broken bones or ligament damage and tells you they went back to being 100 per cent is probably lying. It took me six months to get over it with rehab. What did you do for six months? There was no Netflix back then. There was also less racing back then! I did miss the Tasmania round. I remember sitting at home on the couch with my knee up. Cameron Mcconville, my co-driver at the time, was filling in for me and it was pouring rain [there]. I wasn’t having a good weekend from memory. But he had a terrible one. What was the best life advice you received from your mentor Peter Brock? Peter was a big believer in positivity. Glasses weren’t half empty; they were half full. I remember in 1996 we’d had an altercation with Wayne Gardner at Bathurst during a sprint race. I lost the lead of the championship at the time. We were driving back to Sydney, and I thought the world had collapsed. And Pete basically said, “All you’re gonna get out of looking back is a sore neck.” If you had audio in your racing Commodore, what kind of music would we hear? I’m old school, so I love AC/DC. Bon Jovi, too. We all use music to get motivated, and when
“Peter Brock said to me, ‘All you’re gonna get out of looking back [at the past] is a sore neck’”
you’re driving a car, you need to find a consistency and a rhythm. They both have fast beats. So no Michael Bublé? No, I’m not a Michael Bublé… [pauses, stops himself] I mean, I enjoy his music! Racing drivers these days are skinnier than supermodels. When was the last time you rocked up to a Macca’s drive-through? To be honest, it’d be six or seven years ago. Everyone has become so health conscious now. All race drivers are definitely aware of their weight – but I’m lucky. I don’t have to be a jockey, but I also don’t have to be modelskinny. I just have to look after myself. When you’re wheeling trolleys around the supermarket, do you subconsciously find yourself picking racing lines and hitting apexes? You might need to talk to my wife about that. It’s an instinct no matter where I am. I’m always looking for the fastest way through anything. I get told I’m driving too close to parked cars and kerbs, through roundabouts… What is the first thing you throw into the trolley – and do you do it because it’s tasty or because it improves weight distribution and handling? Well, we always start in the fresh fruit section. But we’re lucky because [wife] Lara is a green thumb. So we’ve got plenty of vegie patches at home. Lara is also a former bagpiper. What steps have you taken to make sure she never becomes a future bagpiper? For starters, we don’t have any bagpipes in the house. Is that a hard and fast rule? No, we have a trombone and piano accordion. At Christmas, the one thing we have to watch is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, obviously because of the bagpipes. How long has it been since Lara played the bagpipes? She’s actually sitting right beside me – let me ask. [Pauses] “Too long”, she says. Motor sports, bagpipes… you two must enjoy loud noises. There is big noise in our family. But I know what I prefer, and it definitely makes more of a sound than a bagpipe.