Taking field as accidental hero
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.”
SAFETY PLAYER: Jason Routley isolates broken- down race cars.