rac­ing driver

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Stellar Q&A - In­ter­view by TIM BLAIR

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.

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