normal person who has ever driven over the top of the Mt Panorama racetrack at Bathurst – race drivers obviously excluded – understands that even when obeying the 60km/h speed limit over the famous Skyline, Dipper and Forrest’s Elbow sections that it is pretty hairy.
So the idea of doing it on an extended skateboard, known as a longboard, seems a little nuts.
But in April that is what 16-year-old Adelaide student Jayden Mitchell did. At 100km/h. “It was scary the first couple of times, but then I got used to it,” he says. Mitchell won the race and is now ranked as the number one junior in the world.
Mitchell has been longboarding for about two years. He got into it through some friends. Before that he did trampolining, but was attracted to longboarding by the speed. “I like the adrenalin rush, going fast and being around friends,” he says.
Unsurprisingly there have been a few accidents along the way. He hit a guard rail at 60km/h, and he has had pile ups with other riders. His only injury is his shoulder, which can pop out, an affliction common to skateboarders who instinctively put their hands down to protect themselves when they fall off.
Not that it’s easy being a longboarder in Adelaide. The roads in the Hills, with steep descents and long, winding bends, are their favourite playground, but longboarding is illegal on public roads. Two longboarders were convicted and fined at Willunga last year. Mitchell wants better facilities, a place where it is safe and legal to pursue the sport. “It’s probably the fastest growing extreme sport in Australia,” he says. “In Adelaide two years ago there was a core of 10 skaters, now there are over 200.”
It would be easy to tag Mitchell as some sort of hoon. The blander truth is he is a well-spoken, polite 16-yearold who just has a thing for going extremely fast. And he is no dummy. He is a student at the Australian Maths and Science School at Flinders University and has half an eye on an engineering career if professional skateboarding doesn’t work out.
It’s a touch of realism he also brings to his sport. At another race in NSW he was in a bus with a bundle of others having a first look at the track down Mt Keira. “I was going down it and I was scared,” he says. “There were people who went straight for it first up and crashed. That’s not what I am about. I always ease into things.”