A Day At The Racers

OK, so today was something a little different…
(Post contains many images, so it’s after a page break. It’s your bandwidth I’m thinking of…)
Quick disclaimer for ethical purposes: I travelled to Brisbane and toured through the Triple Eight racing team headquarters as a “guest” of Symantec, a Triple Eight sponsor. Make of that what you will. As this is my blog, though, you won’t find the disclaimer neatly tucked away in tiny print at the bottom of the page. Just because.
Anyway, as that disclaimer probably made clear to you, I spent the day (literally just the day; an early flight there and late flight back) in Brisbane at the team headquarters of Triple Eight Race Engineering. The Wikipedia page can tell you more about Triple Eight and V8 racing in general than I ever possibly could, or would ever be likely to, but that’s life.
Now, I’m not a big V8 fan. Heck, I’m not much of a fan of motor racing at all, but I can appreciate stuff that’s well made, and people that drip passion. And if there’s one thing this team seems to drip, it’s passion.
Well, they might drip other stuff, I guess. Some questions are a little too personal to ask, even for a journalist.
I couldn’t quite take photos of everything on offer — it’s a bit too close to the start of the race season, and this is a sport where (so we were told) marginal fractional percentages are often the margin of victory, so some tweaks and modifications are bit on the top secret side. The odd thing there is that I could well look at or take a photo of a widget or particularly sized nut that meant sweet diddly to me, but would be revealing to those in the know. Anyway — on with the photoblog!

A fairly imposing building. In an industrial estate. Motor racing — it’s all about the glamour!

My famous person claim to fame for the day: V8 racecar driver Jamie Whincup. Some people I know would be dissolving in excitement at this point. I was just queuing up many arguably daft questions. As mentioned up front, motor racing and engines aren’t really my thing. And some of the answers I got were as revealing in a lot of other ways anyway…

We could show you the top secret CAD design here in a photo, but then we’d have to kill you.

I may not know much about cars, but I have the feeling that adding wheels to it might improve speed markedly.

My inner geek rejoices. While the Triple Eight upstairs offices could be any cubicle farm with a reasonably open layout, the PCs themselves have had superflous neon lighting added to them. Just because.

The neckbrace part of the helmet. My inner Pro Wrestling Geek was wondering whether I’d survive asking Jamie to growl out an “oooh… whadda rush!”, Road Warriors style. Speaking of my inner Pro Wrestling geek, every time somebody said “Triple Eight”, I kept wondering where The Game was. I think I need help.

The machining room. Only the finest automotive parts are milk fed.

Some work is clearly needed on miniaturising the Triple Eight Triple Heart Bypass Valve. But prototypes are progressing nicely.

Want your own Machining workshop? It’ll cost you — a claimed $450,000 per machine. I think I’d rather pay off my mortgage, if that’s all the same to you.
Leave an unlocked car around some of the shadier suburbs of Brisbane, and this is what happens in mere minutes. Well, OK, maybe not. The claim is that while it’s ostensibly a Holden, anywhere from 80-90% of the car is actually built in these workshops, rather than on a Holden factory line.

Even I can appreciate the engineering tolerances they’re talking about here. Within 1mm is unacceptable. Within the thickness of a piece of paper is apparently “barely tolerable”.
It’s a busy workshop with bits being sliced and diced on a regular basis, so there’s plenty of floor scrap. I did ask if they recycle, and apparently this is so, with the aim to have at least 50% of the cars recyclable within the next few years. Admirable stuff, although I’m not sure that I buy that E85 petrol is entirely “green”. It’s still being burnt, after all…

Oh, what I could do with this toolbench. Surprisingly little, actually. I was lucky to survive High School metalwork with all of my fingers intact.

“And this button controls my iPod”
Well, OK, maybe not. Although there is a button on the steering wheel that supplies drinks. No joke.

Inevitably, in any group of given products, there will be an unnecessarily pink one. A V8 workshop was not somewhere I expected to find one, however.

V8 fans, you will watch this car hoon around tracks this year. Probably with the engine in it, at least most of the time.

I can feel relieved. The car seat I’ve purchased for my five year old son is the spitting image of this one. And I don’t plan on crashing into anything at any speed, let alone 200kph!

There’s something innately attractive about bright blue pedals.

My inner kludger likes the fact that amongst all the precision tooling, computer modelling and race day testing, the thing holding the suprisingly flexible bonnet up… is a broom. It’s that great “yeah, stuff it, that’ll do” attitude at play.

Not that I’ll ever drive an actual V8 Supercar. Heck, I probably can’t even afford this model one.
There’s a fortune to be made for the person who invents car sunscreen. The labels fade very quickly — apparently replaced every time the cars go out, lest they fade, as this older model (out in the Triple Eight carpark) has done.

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