Bathurst 1000 Supercars: Newcastle apprentice on steep learning curve at Mt Panorama

Isabelle Kranhold’s friends don’t understand her passion, the one she hopes to turn into a career.

“They’re all girly girls. They’re happy for me, but they don’t understand what it’s all about,” the 19-year-old said on Thursday in the pits at the Bathurst 1000.

The third-year Glendale TAFE apprentice mechanic is working in the Brad Jones Racing garage at Mt Panorama this week, helping out with fire control, cooling down the engine and brakes and pushing the car onto the track.

She made her Supercars pit debut in August with BJR at Eastern Creek and dreams of joining the team full-time after finishing her apprenticeship in 2019.

Isabelle fell in love with the sport while watching it on TV with her father, Shannon, when she was a little girl.

“I’ve always liked Brad Jones Racing, and my dad does as well,” she said.

It has been a baptism of fire for the Edgeworth teenager. Eastern Creek was the first time she had seen car racing live, then she spent much of her first day at Bathurst watching the team try to put Tim Slade’s Commodore back together.

Slade slammed into a wall in The Esses on top of the mountain in the first practice on Thursday, causing severe damage to the rear of the car.

It was a tough break for the team, but Isabelle benefited from seeing how the team went about the repair job.

“It was a shock. Everyone knew that was it for the day. Everyone was calm.

“They were just hoping he was all right. The whole left side hit pretty hard. It was interesting seeing how they put it all together.

“It’s interesting to see how that all comes together, because you don’t see it on TV.

“It’s such a fast-paced environment, and just how quick the mechanics do things is just crazy.”

Female mechanics are a rarity in Supercars pit garages, and Isabelle said she had learned to deal with the male-dominated profession.

“You just get used to it. I do like fast cars, Supercars, so it was always in the back of my mind.

“I have had to gain a lot of strength. I go to the gym to keep my strength and fitness to be able to fit tyres and other heavy mechanical equipment and parts.”

Isabelle will also work for BJR at the Newcastle 500 in late November.

She is completing her apprenticeship at a Newcastle car dealership and sees some parallels between that work and the responsibilities of a race-car mechanic.

“The driver puts a lot of trust in the mechanics.

“It’s like my job, too. When I do brakes or suspension on a car, you have the people’s lives in your hand, so it’s always good to double-check and make sure everything’s perfect before it goes back on the road.”