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Ricky Bobby & naked ladies

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Ricky Bobby & naked ladies

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We’ll get to the ‘Baby Jesus’ stuff in a sec.

 

For now, let me take you onto the Bathurst podium the first time I made it up there in 2012.

 

I finished second, in between Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes. Everyone was going nuts.

 

Jamie and Craig chucked their shoes into the crowd and the punters went ballistic. Me? I only had one pair of shoes. I wasn’t going to give them away. So I grabbed the closest thing I could and threw it out into the endless sea of people.

 

It was the Channel Seven microphone.

 

I didn’t think much of it at the time. The crowd loved it and no one mentioned anything about the microphone in the days that followed.

 

Then, a couple of weeks later, I received an invoice in the mail from Seven for $3,000.

 

My podium bonus was $2,000.

 

I call that race the Bathurst minus 1000.

 

 

KNACKERED BEFORE THE START

So, Bathurst. Holy shit. What a bloody week.

 

I thought I had a decent grasp on how big the race was. But, honestly, until you win it, you have no idea. It’s ten-times bigger than the next biggest race. The media attention, the crowd, everything is another level to anything else we do.

 

Some people follow the Supercars championship. Everyone follows Bathurst.

 

I was knackered before the race even started. You get there on the Tuesday. You have a full day of media stuff on the Wednesday. You’re driving the car Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And I don’t sleep the best on race weekend anyway.

 

It’s such a mentally challenging track. You’re going at big speeds and the wall is very close. The smallest of errors can turn into the biggest of crashes. On top of that, these were the hardest conditions we’ve had to race in in 20 years, they said.

 

I thought I had a decent grasp on how big the race was. But, honestly, until you win it, you have no idea. It’s ten-times bigger than the next biggest race. The media attention, the crowd, everything is another level to anything else we do.

 

We were cruising around and maintaining pace. It was pissing down rain. Our car wasn’t the best in the wet. We were just maintaining station between second and fifth.

 

Early on you’re thinking, ‘We’ll still have a good day but if it stays wet we won’t have a chance of winning unless something bad happens.’ You’re sitting there going through the motions. When I was watching Luke Youlden drive I was trying to maintain my hydration and get some food down, even though I didn’t feel like eating at all.

 

Then the track started to dry and everything went mad from there.

 

 

 

COLD, NAKED LADIES

With about 23 laps to go we were under safety car. The safety car lights went out and we were about to go racing.

 

We were in single file driving up to the last complex. I looked to my left and there were two ladies fully naked. They were flashing the entire field. They looked cold, if you know what I mean.

 

I wasn’t the only one to see them. A bunch of us did. I thought, ‘I won’t raise this on radio because if something goes wrong the team might think I wasn’t concentrating because of the girls.’

 

I don’t know how long they were there for. It wasn’t the nicest day to be naked.

 

There wasn’t much I could do about it. If I had a horn, I probably would have tooted, but they don’t have them in Supercars. And I was saving fuel so I couldn’t rev the engine. But it was funny as.

 

I looked to my left and there were two ladies fully naked. They were flashing the entire field. They looked cold, if you know what I mean.

 

I also remember the last few laps.

 

I was trying to hold back the tears and stop myself from throwing up. I was so nervous.

 

You’re thinking to yourself, ‘Fuck, I’m about to win the biggest race of the year.’ You dream of having no one else in front of you for the last couple of laps – and it happened.

 

That’s why I was so nervous. Your brain goes in these weird cycles. It does backflips on itself. But you’re also trying to drive the car as fast as you can and maintain the gap on everyone else.

 

Sometimes when you’re dehydrated, buggered and your cool-suit has failed, you start thinking of all this weird stuff. Those are unconscious thoughts. These were conscious thoughts.

 

Taking that chequered flag was one of the best moments of my life.

 

 

 

THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY

Righto, let’s get this ‘Baby Jesus’ stuff out of the way.

 

I love movies. Will Ferrell movies. Jonah Hill movies. Jim Carey movies. Tahan and I watch them all the time and we quote them to each other way too much. I watch a lot of comedians, too. Somehow their personalities take over mine at inappropriate times…

 

Anyway, Taledega Nights is an awesome movie and Ricky Bobby is an awesome character. He’s always name-checking ‘Baby Jesus’. It popped into my head on the podium a nanosecond before I said it. I wasn’t sure if many people got it at first, but I’ve spoken to tons of people since and they did.

 

The movie quotes haven’t always gone down so well. You’ll probably remember my “p—- wagon” comment from 2005. It was a line out of Kill Bill. I got hit with a $25,000 fine for that one.

 

But there’s always a positive story to come out of a negative.

 

The way I looked at it, if I paid the fine off on my credit card, it was a shitload of frequent flyer miles. It was a rather large tax deduction. And it gave me more media coverage than the entire race.

 

It wasn’t the first stupid thing I’ve done and it almost certainly won’t be the last.

 

 

I’VE DONE ALL THE DUMB THINGS

When I was a kid in Albury, I had the biggest temper. I was so competitive. I would blow up over nothing and get really angry – about racing stuff, a running race, a swimming race, anything.

 

I had to be first. I wouldn’t do any training, but I would blow myself to bits to win the race.

 

Anyway, my old man, John, would chase me down the street when I mucked up. I used to hide in a cubby house that the kids down the road built out the front of their house. He wouldn’t find me for a couple of hours. I used to sit there until he cooled off and went back home.

 

The knack for pissing people off stuck with me for a while.

 

The movie quotes haven’t always gone down so well. You’ll probably remember my “p—- wagon” comment from 2005. It was a line out of Kill Bill. I got hit with a $25,000 fine for that one.

 

In my very first year of racing we were in Perth. To get to the track, you had to go down the off-ramp off the highway. I did the biggest handbrake slide of my life on the first day. It went for a couple of hundred metres. It was stupid, but I was only about 23. I was with my commercial manager at the time.

 

The next day he was with our boss. The boss saw the two massive black tyre marks on the off-ramp. He was like, ‘Which dickhead did this?’ My manager pissed himself.

 

Also, I used to be a driver trainer. I’ve been sacked from pretty much every one of those gigs.

 

I could go on…

 

 

THE LITTLE TEAM NO ONE SAW COMING

But, no, I’ve got a way better story to tell than my stuff ups.

 

It’s about Erebus. The little team at the back of pit lane. The team no one imagined would do anything special. The team that won the biggest race of the year.

 

I’m so proud of everyone who has touched the car in the last 12 months. I’m still on a high.

 

Betty Klimenko and Barry Ryan picked me up and believed in me when I was on the outer at my other team in 2015. My engineer, Al McVean, is the smartest person in pit lane. Without him there was no way we would have been able to win the race.

 

All the mechanics who have been with me since we started at the start of last year have been immense.

 

I’ve never been as happy in my sport, my job, my life than I have been with this team.

 

 

 

HOW THE HELL DID WE GET THERE?

The first time I met Betty she told me, ‘Don’t wear thongs and don’t wear flat-peak hats and you’ll fit in fine.’

 

I love thongs. But she’s the boss.

 

Betty has been instrumental with the whole Erebus thing. She started this company when they brought the Mercedes in. She spent a lot of money and had three cars running. It was a massive program to build the cars, the engines basically start from scratch. It didn’t work out.

 

At the end of 2015, when I signed the contract, I was going to be a Mercedes driver living in Queensland. After the Christmas break, I was still stuck in Melbourne and racing a Holden.

 

We got the Holden off Walkinshaw Racing. It was a struggle just to get to every round.

 

We moved workshops from Queensland to Moorabbin. We outgrew that place really quickly. Six or seven months later we moved to Dandenong. It was really, really stressful for everyone. We didn’t have enough staff to do it. It took some of the focus away from the racing.

 

I was thinking, ‘What have I got myself into?’

 

We were really inexperienced. We had to work massive hours to get the car ready each round. I’m pretty useless at most things in life, but I was trying to help with the basic stuff. I was making my own seats, which is quite a big job. Cutting it up, sanding it back and all those things.

 

I would have deadest laughed in your face if you’d told me we’d win Bathurst 12 months later.

 

It seemed so far beyond our reach.

 

So, the million dollar question: How the hell did we get here?

 

It was just by training good people. They were extremely inexperienced at the start, but Barry and Al have been instrumental in pulling it all together.

 

They’ve been the glue, along with Betty. I’m just the support network.

 

Driving your car on the limit is hard work. I probably make more mistakes than anyone on the team. Some of the mistakes are so small you don’t see it, others are so big you hit the fence and the car is buggered. You always make mistakes. It’s how you bounce back.

 

That’s what our team is all about. No ego. No hissy-fits. Just a group of people with a common goal enjoying each other’s company and success. You don’t see that in a lot of other teams.

 

We’re a true contender now.

 

We were the best performing team at Bathurst. We had two cars in the top four.

 

Bring on the rest of the season.

 

David Reynolds  -  Contributor

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