Lowndes & Whincup’s mid-season shenanigans

This mid-season break is nearly over and we’re so close to hitting the Hidden Valley circuit that we can almost smell the E85 fumes and hear the roaring engines. Oh wait, that’s just the cars being run up downstairs. Maybe we should invest in some improved ventilation…

Anyway, with close to four weeks already having been and gone since Winton, there’s been a lot happening in the Red Bull Racing Australia team. It’s times like this when the gates are unlocked and staff members are given permission to roam more freely than Maria in the Salzburg hills. But then also like the Sound of Music, the staff who have ventured out to frolic in the grass are brought back to reality with a bang and reminded that that much happiness is only allowed in small doses.

Speaking of singing nuns in Austria, that’s exactly where Mr Whincup disappeared to post-Winton. For a bloke who dislikes leaving the loving arms of Elizabeth (the No.1 Red Bull Holden for those not on first name terms) his European trip was quite the adventure.

J-Dub’s travels kicked off in style as he rubbed shoulders with the superstars at the Monaco Grand Prix. It was then off to Austria via St Tropez where he managed not to acquire a layer of orange or any plastic surgery.

Nestled in – you guessed it – the hills of Salzburg, there’s a legendary location us mere mortals can only dream of visiting. With more toys in one place than the biggest rev-head would really know what to do with, Red Bull HQ and Hangar 7 are apparently like the ultimate man cave on steroids.

Couple the visits there with a guided helicopter tour from the man himself, Felix Baumgartner, and Jamie might be starting to think this whole V8 Supercars thing is a bit of an anti-climax. Just kidding, J-Dub would still choose the streets of Adelaide over the mountains of Austria any day.

“I got some serious Red Bull Europe hospitality,” he said. “I checked out some unbelievably good toys and just really enjoyed Austria. It’s a fantastic place, it’s very clean and has fantastic food, so I really enjoyed my time just chilling out and seeing Europe for the first time.”

Meanwhile, Craig took a more Mad Max than musical classic approach to the break, heading off on a two-wheeled road trip to watch the Finke Desert Race. Setting off from Birdsville with Daryl Beattie and a group of sand-loving bikies, he travelled across the Simpson Desert and over to Alice Springs to clock up about 2,000km and probably a very sore backside.

“We went down and had a look at the Finke race, which is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Lowndesy.

“The buggies, the cars and the bikes were all really impressive riding over the track. We got to walk some of it, but didn’t get to ride any of it unfortunately. Just to see what they do and how they go about it is incredible.

“It was a huge experience, but I was happy to get home away from the dust. Riding a bike across the Simpson and watching the Finke race is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’ve ticked a big box.”

Luckily both drivers are back in the RBRA shackles and it’s off to Darwin we go. Not long now!