He may be a staunch Ford man but there was no way Richard Mara was knocking back a hot lap in a Supercar, even if it was in a Holden.
The Cooks Hill resident and his wife scored a last-minute spot in a corporate box for the Newcastle 500 on Friday.
A mad motor racing enthusiast, the 39-year-old was lapping it up being trackside before it got a whole lot better when by chance he ended up doing two practise laps – with Jamie Whincup no less.
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“We were just sitting at the table and they came around and were asking people what their weight and height was,” Mr Mara said.
“Then they asked me. I didn’t know what they were asking me for and then they said, ‘He’ll fit’, and told me I’d be able to go for a hot lap in one of the Supercars.”
At first he thought it was a joke but it became reality when getting suited up for two laps with the eventual Newcastle 500 and Supercars 2017 champion.
“I’m a Ford fan but there was no way I was passing up a ride in a Supercar, and with Jamie Whincup as well, who was at the top of the leaderboard and had a chance to win the whole season, that was amazing,” he said.
“He was focused. He didn’t hold back.”
Hitting speeds of around 200 kilometres per hour could only be described as “scary”.
“You don’t realise how fast you’re going until you get to a corner,” Mr Mara said.
“They’re hardly braking and you’re thinking, ‘There’s no way that this car is going to make it around the corner’.”
It was not only a fast ride but a bumpy one too.
“When you go at the speed they’re going, you can feel every little bump,” he said.
“My helmet was banging against the roll bars and you get shaken about the whole time.”
The once-in-a-lifetime ride gave him a new appreciation of the drivers.
“There was one part in the course, once you go past the ocean side, when you come around the corner and all you can see in front of you is wall and you can’t see the exit,” he said.
“The first time we came around there and I saw the wall I thought, where is he going to turn.
“There were some places when I thought, ‘There’s nothing I can do, I’m just in his hands, I have no control over this and something could go wrong just like that and we could hit a wall … and I don’t want to go out in a Holden’.”