Sprints preview rocks writer
140kmh on the streets a buzz
After meeting with the organisers of the Cromwell Sprints it become apparent my lack of first-hand racing experience was not going to cut it if I was going to be writing about their beloved sport. So it was sorted, Central Otago Motorsport Club president Grant Keen and member Justin Marshall signed me up to co-drive in my first race. Overalls, check. Helmet, check. Triple lock seatbelt check. Cromwell driver Paul Beattie and I hit the track in his purposely built 2004 Mitsubishi Evolution8 and he begins a brakes test. Vroom, Stop. Vroom, Stop. This continued at least 10 times, throwing me around the car and making me dizzy. At the startline Paul explains how the car was going to go into antilag mode to allow us to get the fastest takeoff as possible and keep us at full throttle along the 1.5 kilometre track. I wasn’t nervous but my hands started to sweat in the hot car. ‘‘We’re really going to have to push it this time,’’ Paul said. We burst off the start line and approach the first corner. I was expecting us to slow down but that was the opposite of what happened and we sped up. We are rocketing! It feels so unnatural (yet exhilarating) to be driving at up to
fastened, 140kmh in a 50kmh area around right angle corners. However I’m too busy looking at the road to take a glimpse of the speedometer. I see a road block of tyres ahead. The track disappears. We are going to hit something! We are going to hit something! I kept saying to myself. But Paul shows his passion and professionalism when it comes to driving and the car glides with ease as he weaves around the series of tyre chicanes. Oh, that’s where the track went. I completely relax realising I’m in safe hands. We hit the final straight and I’m thrown back into my seat as we try to beat the clock and pass the finish line. I explain to Paul I was certain we were going to hit something during the race. ‘‘Oh we did, we hit a tyre stack,’’ Paul replied. Too fast for me to even notice. ‘‘That was great. You’re a great codriver, want a job?,’’ Paul asks. ‘‘Yes!,’’ I reply without hesitation, realising driving is not going to be the same for a while.
In the fast lane: Mirror reporter Che Baker with Cromwell driver Paul Beattie before taking to the track in the Cromwell Street Sprints in Cromwell on Sunday.