Tak­ing field as ac­ci­den­tal hero

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY

HE drives the 26th car in the field and has never won a race.

But Jason Rout­ley might just be one of the most im­por­tant peo­ple on the Townsville 400 street track.

Rout­ley drives one of the event’s Lexus RC F coupe safety cars, which looks more like a po­lice car from a Hol­ly­wood block­buster than a reg­u­lar fam­ily sedan.

“It’s the next best thing to be­ing a race car driver,” he said.

Born in New Zealand, Rout­ley said he grew up in a trans­port fam­ily and knew early on he wanted a life around the track.

“I started off very young and al­ways had the bug, and it’s ev­ery kid’s dream to be around these cars,” he said.

He’s been on the V8 su­per­cars tour for four years, ini­tially as a trans­port driver be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel of a safety car.

“We are the only ones who want an ac­ci­dent to hap­pen on track,” Rout­ley said.

“As soon as there is one se­ri­ous enough to need iso­lat­ing on the field, a call will come from race con­trol and they will make sure it is safe for us to re­lease.

“We then go fly­ing out and are given a car num­ber to pick up, which is very crit­i­cal for the cars on the track be­cause some went to pit or are a lap be­hind.

“It makes you very on edge be­cause it feels like you’ve had three or four cof­fees and we’re only do­ing 40- 50km/ h while the cars are fly­ing around.”

Rout­ley said look­ing in the rear- vi­sion mir­ror can be very in­tim­i­dat­ing with 25 cars and adren­a­line- fu­elled driv­ers just want­ing to put their foot to the floor.

“They’re not too happy to be slow­ing down and they are all revving and swerv­ing be­hind you, so you’ve just got to keep look­ing for­ward, but it’s an awe­some rush.”

Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD— CHISHOLM

SAFETY PLAYER: Jason Rout­ley iso­lates bro­ken- down race cars.

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