NZ Autocar - - Contents - Rob Scott

The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race is now threat­en­ing both its 1000km cousin and Mel­bourne’s F1 round as the most pres­ti­gious race meet­ing on the Aus­tralasian cal­en­dar. Thou­sands of Ki­wis were glued to the live stream of this year’s race, as our own Shane Van Gis­ber­gen fended off a fast-fin­ish­ing Kat­sumasa Chiyo to give McLaren its big­gest sports car win since the 1995 Le Mans.

Cu­ri­ously, The Giz was not the big­gest star of the event. Most of the talk this side of the Tas­man re­volved around the break­through ap­pear­ance of a bloke sim­ply called ‘Joey’ – or Clint Bridger as his par­ents named him.

I kept an eye on Shane’s progress dur­ing the race, as he was clearly the best chance of an out­right win in a mar­que so dear to most Ki­wis’ hearts. But I found my­self fre­quently dis­tracted by video despatches from one of the field’s lesser lights – the Pon­son-by-based In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor­sport.

The Lyall Wil­liamson-headed equipe has al­ways had a strong pres­ence on these shores, but run­ning an Audi R8 in Aus­tralia was a sig­nif­i­cant step up with the big boys. It also seemed to her­ald a new ap­proach to me­dia re­leases, fronted by an en­gag­ing spokesman whose style was as loose as a goose.

The only Clint Bridger I’d ever heard of was the tal­ented de­signer of Red Bull Rac­ing’s liv­ery, so I won­dered if the two name­sakes had ever met.

“That’s me, too,” as­sured Joey when I fi­nally caught up with him back in Auck­land. “I won a com­pe­ti­tion in the last years of Triple Eight’s Voda­fone spon­sor­ship and they seemed to like my work.”

Triple Eight are a fairly se­ri­ous out­fit, and Lyall him­self oc­cu­pies a de­cid­edly pa­tri­ar­chal po­si­tion in the New Zealand rac­ing scene. So why are they in­volved with this amus­ing screw­ball?

Joey, too, is amazed at his good for­tune. “I’ve al­ways pre­pared In­ter­na­tional’s press re­leases and so­cial me­dia posts, and been dis­ap­pointed with the re­sponse. Clearly it was time to try some­thing dif­fer­ent so we filmed a light-hearted video as we left Syd­ney. It was off the cuff and the pun­ters loved it.

Team man­age­ment drew him aside to es­tab­lish what the hell was go­ing on, but Joey was able to as­sure them he was not lead­ing their hard­earned rep­u­ta­tion into Go­mor­rah.

Thus en­sued some of the fun­ni­est videos ever posted at a mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit, as Joey played up to his role as a hanger-on while the rest of the crew were his straight men.

“The in­ten­tion was to high­light the im­por­tance of our race tech­ni­cians to our spon­sors and cus­tomers – to draw them into the lime­light. It turned into so much more, es­pe­cially with the ac­cess we gave the Aussie fans. We kept a largely open pit bay so they could see what our guys were do­ing at all times of the day.”

The bat­tle to be ac­cepted by those same race tech­ni­cians played out beau­ti­fully on film. ‘I was beg­ging them for some of the cool stuff so it looked like I be­longed – any­thing like a head­set, or gloves.” In­stead the team pro­vided him with some gar­den­ing gloves that promptly fused to his hands when he man­han­dled hot ma­chin­ery.

“I was play­ing a catch­ers role, be­hind the pit lane. They would slide trays of glow­ing brake discs and pads to­wards me, while I stood wait­ing to catch the worn tyres. The next thing I knew, my prized Air Jor­dans were melt­ing as they rested against the 450 de­gree Centi­grade discs.”

I asked him about his nick­name, ‘Joey’. Ap­par­ently it stems from a re­sem­blance to the Friends char­ac­ter Joey Trib­biani. Bizarrely, it was also my nick­name as a kid, mainly be­cause I liked to ex­per­i­ment on small an­i­mals, just like Josef Men­gele.

In fact, I felt a real kin­dred spirit with Joey/Clint. We’re both shame­less self-pro­mot­ers and use hu­mour as an ef­fec­tive way of broad­en­ing our reach. Af­ter watch­ing him in ac­tion, I’m now left won­der­ing if a move to the small screen might be some­thing I should con­sider.

But no – on sec­ond thoughts, I’d prob­a­bly make a com­plete Clint of my­self.

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