SUPER CARS AND SUPER FRIENDS
Larger-than-life team owner Betty Klimenko had only one man in mind when chasing a new driver, but there were two non-negotiable conditions, writes James Phelps
Betty Klimenko handed Dave Reynolds the contract to drive for Erebus Motorsport.
“Now I have two conditions,’’ Klimenko said in her Gold Coast hotel room in 2015. “Two rules that must be obeyed.’’
Reynolds had been waiting for the conditions.
“I just sat there thinking ‘here we go’,’’ Reynolds said. “Here come the behavioural clauses. I was always getting in trouble at my former team (Tickford Racing) so I thought they were going to put a leash on me.’’
Reynolds, known as the V8 joker, thought Erebus team owner Klimenko was going to tell him he was not allowed to throw flower pots.
That he wasn’t allowed to drink from his boot. That he was not allowed to refer to the all-female car as the “pussy wagon’’. He was wrong. “I just told him my first rule was that he was not allowed to wear a flat-peaked cap,’’ Klimenko said.
“I hate those things. And the second was that he was not allowed to wear thongs at the track, not only because it is a safety issue but also because it is a terrible look.’’
Reynolds grabbed the contract and signed. “I was like, ‘is that it’?’’ Reynolds said.
“I didn’t wear flat caps anyway. I had a bit of an issue with not wearing thongs but I could live with it.’’
And so began a match made in heaven — the V8 odd couple who would shock the sport by winning the Bathurst 1000 in 2017.
“I think of us as Laurel and Hardy,’’ Klimenko said. “We are both characters and we are all about having fun. I often look at him and tell him not to worry about getting in trouble. I tell him I will take the blame.’’
Klimenko, all purple hair, tattoos and big bank balance, and Reynolds, of flower pots and one liners fame, both admit to being strange.
“That’s what makes us a perfect couple,’’ Reynolds said. “Betty is a different sort of person. She is a big character and does things her own way. I do, too. I actually remember the first time I met her. It was at the back of her garage in 2012. I have no idea what the conversation was about but I left knowing that I would drive for her one day.
“I just clicked with her and decided she was my type of person.’’
Reynolds was also Klimenko’s kind of person. The larger-than-life team owner only had one driver in mind when Will Davison announced he would be leaving the team at the end of 2015.
“Fate stepped in and said that we belonged together,’’ Klimenko said. “I had watched him since he was a boy and I always thought that he was a great driver. I just thought he was always kept on a tight leash. I thought he just needed to have it pulled off.’’
That is why Klimenko didn’t put any behavioural clauses in Reynolds’ contract.
“I wasn’t going to tell him to change his behaviour,’’ Klimenko said. “I just wanted to put him out there and let him be himself. And that has been the key to getting the
most out of him. Dave has a unique personality and he needs to be in the right frame of mind.
“You need to get him up and put his brain in the right place. For him you have to get him happy. You
know he will be at his best when he is smiling from ear-to-to-ear.’’
“I had watched him since he was a boy and I always thought that he was a great driver. I just thought he was always kept on a tight
leash. I thought he just needed to have it pulled off.’’
And Reynolds will this week be all smiles when he returns to the scene of his greatest triumph — Mount Panorama.
The Holden star will strap down for next weekend’s Bathurst 1000 as the reigning champion after defying the odds to win with his perfect partner.
“That was the greatest moment of my career,’’ Reynolds said. “And it was made so much better by being able to do it with Betty after the faith she showed in me.
“I honestly love driving for her. I used to walk around scared at my last team, always worried I was about to get in trouble for something. Now I just have fun and go out and race.’’
Klimenko is hoping Reynolds finds his happy place this week.
“That was his zen last year,’’ Klimenko said.
“And I don’t think I will have to do anything to get him there this year. He just wants to get that feeling back that he had when he won it. I don’t have to do a thing.’’
And as for those conditions? The hats and the thongs?
“The cheeky bugger tried it on once,’’ Klimenko said.
“He tried wearing thongs into the garage. I think that is the only time I have yelled at him.
“And no. I still won’t let him wear thongs if he wins Bathurst again next week.’’
Dave Reynolds and Betty Klimenko have enjoyed success, winning last year’s Bathurst 1000. Picture: Mark Horsburgh
The boot fits as Reynolds celebrates another win.
Reynolds and Klimenko are looking for back-to-back success.