Sydney 500: What to pack to win a championship

While J-Dub and Lowndesy will arrive at Homebush in style, relaxed and prepped for a massive weekend of racing, spare a thought for the removalists – the guys who have to pack and unpack two garages full of equipment into a truck every other week.

As if taking two of everything wasn’t hard enough to fit into the Red Bull Racing Australia transporter already, next weekend’s season finale on the unforgiving streets of Sydney requires even more equipment again.

It calls for expertise in the ways of Tetris, so we caught up with a man who spent his formative years playing Tetris and only Tetris on his Nintendo Gameboy to get the low down on the extra pressures that come with packing for Sydney.

You might know him as Haddo, the reasonably attractive taller lad who spends more time with tyre stacks than Bob Jane. By race weekend he’s a tyre and equipment specialist, but most other days he’s meticulously planning ways to fit more equipment into the transporter. And Sydney’s the toughest of them all.

“I look after the B-trailer, the back one, and Wazza the truck driver packs the A-trailer,” says Haddo, who refutes any mention of a rivalry between the two.

“I look after all the stock of the consumable items and spare parts and all those sorts of things.”

For most race weekends, Haddo and Wazza carry at least two of every part in order to be able to rebuild both cars. But with a championship on the line and the unforgiving streets of Homebush awaiting, that just won’t be enough. They’re prepared to have to rebuild the cars twice over.

“We carry enough stuff to completely rebuild both cars but things like bonnets and mirrors, which are used more often, we actually carry four of – or eight for the mirrors. We carry two sets of rear doors and rear guards and for Sydney we’ll be taking eight front bars instead of six.

“And so far as headlights, tail lights and side mirrors go, normally we’ve got eight sets but for Homebush, we’ll be carrying 16 sets. With side mirrors, we’ll be carrying enough for both cars for every session. Street circuits always require more of the consumable items.”

And having both Red Bull drivers in a battle for the championship means even more perishable items will be packed than normal for a street circuit. And then there’s the case of the dreaded split garage…

“We service the cars up at the hall away from the track but we’ve also got to operate out of the pitlane garage which is on the circuit and quite a walk away,” Haddo continues.

“That means we pretty much have to do two set-ups because you can’t push the cars back up to the hall during a race to work on. And all the equipment we only have one of, we need to wheel up and back every time the cars move between the two garages – mechanics’ tool boxes, damper boxes and such. And it’s not a particularly flat spot either – you’re all uphill on the way back from the track.

“I’ve had to pack an extra tub of talcum powder because chafing can take its toll in Sydney – and the drivers think they have it tough!” Haddo finishes with a laugh.

So there you have it, folks. Should J-Dub or Craig suffer serious or minor damage, and anything in between, the RBRA crew will be well prepared to make sure the Red Bull Commodores make it back on the track.

Stay tuned for our race preview on Monday with Car No.1 mechanic Gooey, who will explain what special measures the team has put in place to make sure that if the cars suffer serious damage in Sydney – e.g. Whincup and Courtney in 2010 – why the Red Bull machines will be back on the track first.