IF Aaren Russell never drives again in the Supercars series, he will always have this weekend’s Newcastle round to one day tell his grandchildren about.
And there’s no doubt in the Newcastle driver’s mind that his first event at home will be “amazing”.
But as the excitement builds to the biggest weekend of his career, Russell still found time on Wednesday to lend a mate a helping hand.
Russell was in the area for support class teams filling in as a crew member for friend Matt Palmer, who races in the Dunlop Super2 series and was setting up for the weekend’s action.
“My brother [Drew] works on the team with them, he’s the team manager for Matt Palmer, and it’s a bit of a favour to him,” Russell said. “They are a bit short on personnel for today and they asked if I could go give them a hand.
“Matt helped me out when I moved to Melbourne last year. He housed me for a couple of months so I had no worries helping Matt out.”
Russell, who will drive a VF Commodore for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, was “pumped” as the Supercars finale drew closer and teams offloaded their equipment on Wednesday ahead of practice on Friday.
“I just got in here and actually rode a lap of the track,” he said. “I picked up a Harley this morning from Fraser Motorcycles to have for the weekend. I’m so excited now.
“The atmosphere here already, everyone is smiling. I just had a chat with the crew and they are pumped. They just can’t believe the area we’re racing in.”
Russell is 51st in the series from only seven starts this year after being picked up late in the season.
The 26-year-old is hoping to push his claims for another deal in 2018 but was focused on soaking up the experience of the first race ever held in his home town.
“This is something I’ll be able to take to my grave,” Russell said. “Even if this is the only chance I get, it’s going to be an amazing weekend.
“We’ll always push to be finding something and looking for next year, but if it doesn’t happen, well, I can at least say I was at the first one.
“I can tell my kids and their kids that I was one of the first people to race around Newcastle.”
And Russell was excited to see the home-town support.
“I definitely have the home fan advantage and I know what Novocastrians are like, they definitely get behind their sports people and sports teams,” he said. “I’m very much looking forward to having everyone here and supporting me. They will all still support their favourite driver but every person here will want the bloke from Newcastle to do well, so I’m pretty pumped about it all.”
“Even from kind of trying to be an outsider looking in, this event blows my mind.
“It’s really dawned on me today that we’re racing Supercars around Newcastle.
“It’s probably a bit hard to get into the track, there’s a little bit of walking there, but once you’re here, everything is already here.
“I’m looking at all the merchandising alley and everything, they are all setting up, and it’s just going to be an incredible race.
“This town just deserves something like this.”