REV HEAD… AND PROUD OF IT

Hair iron

Imagine if Jill Singer wrote an article stating that the recent deaths of footballers as a result of injuries sustained on the ground were as much the fault of the audience as they were of the players.

What if she claimed we only go to the footy to watch people get injured and that we have the blood of those who have died on our hands?

What if she said that football glamorises violence and that young men who attend football games beat each other up specifically because they saw their heroes do it on the football field?

Would you be shocked? Would it seem like an ill-informed, inflammatory thing to write?

What if I told you Singer’s arguments weren’t about football but were, in fact, about motorsport? Does that change your mind?

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According to Singer, people only watch motorsport for the crashes, and the main reason there are car accidents is because people watch car racing.

I suspect this argument is born of snobbery: it’s generally assumed that people who love cars are mouth-breathing bogan rev-heads who drive hotted-up V8s, drink Bundy and Coke and have blow-up dolls as life partners.

I am a motorsport fan and Bundaberg Rum makes me want to faint. And the blow-up doll and I broke up ages ago—you can’t date someone who is that surprised, all of the time.

Car racing is incredible. It is a complex team sport full of intrigue, drama, tactics and subterfuge.

When I was working for Rove Live, I was invited to take part in a celebrity race at the Adelaide Clipsal 500. The producers of the show thought it would make a good story. Me? I thought I was going to spend a week driving around in circles and enduring idiots who wanted to talk about mag wheels and fluffy dice.

After a week of training, I fell in love. I learnt it takes an incredible amount of skill and knowledge to drive a race car.

It takes the ability to make split-second decisions and requires a high level of fitness.

Fighting against the g-force in the car is one thing, doing that for hours on end and not becoming fatigued is another. This is the reason so many of the professional drivers spend hours in the gym and riding their bicycles hundreds of kilometres each week: without peak endurance levels they would tire in the vehicle and lose their concentration.

Last year I was invited by V8 Supercar driver, Will Davison, to go for a spin around Eastern Creek racetrack.

All padded up in my fire-proof suit and helmet, we hurtled around the track at speeds that would have thrown me from the car if I hadn’t been strapped in.

I can’t tell you exactly how fast we were going because that wasn’t what interested me.

What floored me completely was how fast Will’s hands and feet moved. His reaction time was freakish. He would be heel-and-toeing the clutch and brake, shifting down through the gears and entering the apex of a turn before I even realised a corner was coming up.

For him, an experienced athlete with years of practice, this is second nature. For me, it was an incredibly graceful thing to watch.

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