FAST FREIGHT

CUS­TOMISED TRAILERS FOR PRE­CIOUS MOTORSPORT CARGO

Owner Driver - - Front Page -

IT’S NOT AL­WAYS the beast at the front of the trailers that epit­o­mises the cus­tom cre­ations you find on Aus­tralian roads. Of­ten it’s what’s on and in the trailers that’s unique. Never is that truer than with Te­kno Au­tosports’ 4800 West­ern Star. All the boxes were ticked in­side and out when the truck was put on the road al­most four years ago now, but it’s the cus­tom cargo in­side the cus­tom trailers that sits be­hind the cus­tom Star that re­ally gets the mo­tor revving, pun in­tended.

The 2013 4800 West­ern Star is Te­kno’s sec­ond West­ern Star. It’s one of those trucks whose over­all sub­tlety com­pletes the unit per­fectly. The truck isn’t over the top with bling and it re­lies on a sim­ple gloss paint job, yet you can’t help but be im­pressed when you take in the full pack­age. The air in­takes, the vi­sor, the solid front bar, all those lit­tle ex­tras en­sure its suc­cess­ful first im­pres­sion. Com­bine that with the big high-cube B-dou­ble trans­porter in tow and you take note of Te­kno.

Jonathon Webb is the man be­hind Te­kno Au­tosports and Te­kno Per­for­mance. True to the old adage ‘Be­hind every suc­cess­ful man is a strong woman’, Jonathon’s wife Kobe plays an in­te­gral part in the suc­cess of the pri­vately owned Vir­gin Aus­tralia Su­per­car Team.

The Te­kno brand re­ally be­gan in 2010. That was the year Jonathon moved from the Fu­jitsu V8 se­ries into the main-game V8 Su­per­cars.

Un­der the DJR um­brella Jonathon had a suc­cess­ful de­but year, so much so that in 2011 the Webbs stepped out from un­der the DJR tent and formed Te­kno Au­tosports.

Steve, Jonathon’s fa­ther, was the man at the top while Jonathon con­cen­trated on his rac­ing.

Six years later there have been many changes. Jonathon’s Su­per­car rac­ing is now the role of co-driver and men­tor while he and Kobe not only run Te­kno Au­tosports but have opened and ex­panded Te­kno Per­for­mance.

Te­kno Per­for­mance is the pub­lic’s prize for Jonathon’s love of fast cars. The com­pany spe­cialises in all things per­for­mance. The coun­try’s smartest tech­ni­cians and au­to­mo­tive spe­cial­ists can be found in Te­kno’s new Yatala fa­cil­ity, where they take Joe Pub­lic’s car and en­sure it’s up to any Fast and Fu­ri­ous movie au­di­tion.

Be­hind the scenes

Though the glory in main­stream sport goes to the ones at the top, it’s the work­ers be­hind the scenes that en­sure ev­ery­thing falls into place.

Since 2010, the job of en­sur­ing things get to the right place for the Webbs has fallen on the shoul­ders of Michael ‘Mick’ Shor­tus. Like most of those at the top in Aus­tralian Su­per­cars, Mick is ac­tu­ally from the land of the long white cloud, com­ing over to Aus­tralia in 2006 to drive the trans­porter for Paul Cruik­shank Rac­ing.

He was asked to join the Te­kno fam­ily when they moved from un­der the DJR um­brella.

As a motorsports fan, the idea of a job driv­ing a Su­per­cars trans­porter car­ries that aura of awe­some­ness that sits with sim­i­lar dream jobs like CEO of a brew­ery, taste tester at a donut fac­tory, eth­i­cal stan­dards ob­server for the RMS or bouncer at the Play­boy man­sion.

Truth is, though, they may be clock­ing up less

than 100,000km a year, the life of a Su­per­cars trans­porter driver ac­tu­ally isn’t all truck pa­rades and pil­low fights with grid girls.

They ac­tu­ally have to earn their money like the rest of us. If you love watch­ing a Su­per­cars race then be­ing a trans­porter driver is the last job you want.

Driv­ing the trans­porter and get­ting the car to the track is just a small part of Mick’s du­ties.

Like the ma­jor­ity of the trans­porter driv­ers, Mick also has the pres­sure of tyre man­age­ment in his port­fo­lio; a task he’s seen in­crease in reg­u­la­tion and im­por­tance over the years he’s been in the role.

When the on-track com­pe­ti­tion is mea­sured by thou­sandths of sec­onds and mil­lime­tres rather than me­tres, get­ting tyre pres­sures spot on is vi­tal. Keeping track of all the tyres, the tread, the pres­sures and the changes is more in the realm of a rocket sur­geon these days.

It’s not just about keeping up with the other cars, ei­ther. New min­i­mum tyre pres­sure rules and sen­sors within the tyres linked di­rectly to the Su­per­cars of­fi­cials means Mick needs to be cor­rect with his set­tings every time. One PSI out and the whole team gets pun­ished.

Spare parts

Away from the track, Mick’s job in­volves track­ing, cleaning and record­ing ev­ery­thing there is in regards to the team’s wheels and tyres, along with keeping the truck and his end of the work­shop in tip-top shape. His ag­gra­va­tion at peo­ple leav­ing marks in his im­mac­u­lately kept garage in­di­cates it’s a job he takes very se­ri­ously. As a race event ap­proaches, Mick’s role takes on an­other el­e­ment. Watch­ing him or­gan­ise and pack the trans­porter for the race week­end is like a live action game of Tetris. He has to squeeze in 36 wheels and tyres, huge data and teleme­try boxes, drinks and team sup­plies, pit equip­ment, cleaning equip­ment, a mo­bile work­shop – and let’s not for­get an ac­tual Su­per­car and enough spare parts to re­build it.

If fit­ting all that in seems pretty taunt­ing, well relax. Mick’s ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise make this task look easy and these trans­porters are de­signed to eas­ily fit such a large as­sort­ment of parts. In fact, there was even enough room left over that Mick could have eas­ily fit­ted my i30 in with the race car while I re­laxed in the large driver’s room setup above the goose­neck on the B-trailer. The fact he wouldn’t agree meant I had to pay the en­try fee to the track, but that’s fine.

So while Mick’s job is full on, the West­ern Star it­self would al­most be classed as a part-timer. There are 16 Su­per­car rounds a year, stretch­ing from Dar­win to Perth, Tas­ma­nia to Townsville and ev­ery­where in be­tween. The big West­ern Star may get to ex­pe­ri­ence a plethora of paved path­ways dis­sect­ing our coun­try, how­ever on av­er­age it clocks up only 45,000 to 50,000 kilo­me­tres per year. It may be low mileage but, once fully loaded for a race week­end, the unit is up on its weights.

Driver com­fort

Steve Webb was ac­tu­ally the man be­hind the West­ern Star de­ci­sion. Steve’s parochial ap­proach to the trans­porter pur­chase meant he wanted a truck with a strong Aus­tralian link, while also en­sur­ing the driver would be com­fort­able and well catered for. With four sea­sons un­der its belt, Te­kno’s 4800 se­ries West­ern Star is do­ing ev­ery­thing asked of it and do­ing it with the style and class West­ern Star is renowned for. So, as an­other highly com­pet­i­tive sea­son of Su­per­car rac­ing ap­proaches, Mick is al­ready back in the work­shop, brush­ing, pol­ish­ing and pack­ing, and pre­par­ing the ‘Star’ of the show for an­other year of tour­ing Aus­tralia. Good luck to the team at Te­kno.

“The truck isn’t over the top with bling.”

Above: Te­kno Au­tosports trans­porter driver Michael ‘Mick’ Shor­tus

Be­low right: Plenty of room in­side the trailer – even for the odd stow­away or two

Right: Load­ing up for the next event

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