Driven and unstoppable, it’s clear this relentless winner of podium titles has only one goal in mind when it comes to the world of motorsports and that is winning. Currently holding six championship titles, four Bathurst 1000 wins, 69 pole positions and 100 race wins. Jamie Whincup is one of very few drivers to hold titles for both Ford and Holden.
With his father and uncle both into motorsports, it is no surprise that Jamie grew up with a love of it too. At the fresh age of seven, Jamie was given a go-kart to play around with on the weekend. Since that day his love of motorsport didn’t slow down.
On his 15th birthday, he won the Senior Formula A karting title, having held countless rookie and junior titles before taking home the Australian Formula Ford Championship trophy later that year.
He made the leap to V8 Supercars in 2002 after being spotted by Garry Rogers and claiming a full-time position with Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2003.
However, Jamie said it wasn’t really until 2005 that he got to turn his passion into a full-time profession. “I got sacked at the end of the year (2004), decided to take the year off and then miraculously I got back in,” said Jamie.
That miracle was Tasman Motorsport team and he hasn’t looked back since – winning events at Sandown and Bathurst that year where he was spotted by Australian motorsport newcomer, Roland Dane, the main owner of Triple Eight Race Engineering.
In 2006, he decided it was time to rock the world of motorsports, winning the first race of the season and taking home his first Bathurst 1000 title. And that was just the beginning. Jamie went on to win back-to-back titles and make history with team mate, Craig Lowndes.
Since becoming a part of Team Red Bull, 2014 saw Jamie claim his fourth straight Championship.
Jamie currently sits at the top of the leader board with a record breaking 6 Championship wins, 4 Bathurst wins, 70 pole positions and 100 race wins.
B.O.B.: What got you into motor sport originally?
J.: My father and uncle were involved in motor sport. When I was seven-ten years old, we would go Go Karting. It was a little hobby, something we would do on the weekend. So it started off as a hobby and ended up evolving into my full-time profession.
B.O.B.: When did you decide to make it a career?
J.: It’s probably not until you can call yourself a professional, when you are able to make it a career. When you make a living out of this, that’s the time you can say you are a professional. For me that wasn’t until 2005. Then I got sacked, had a year off and eventually got back in. It wasn’t until a year after that I could start calling myself professional.
B.O.B.: Can you give us a quick run-through of a day you would be working on?
J.: It starts with physical training. You do it every day because the car is so hot to drive in. We also do around 120-150 days a year of promotional activity all over the country. We do another 20-30 days of workshops, helping young engineers. Then we have 4 race weekends a year. They last about 6 days each – we typically leave around Tuesday and get home on Monday. This weekend I was back on Tuesday, so it was a whole full week. But yeah, usually it’s 6 days. When you look at it, there is not much time left to be a normal person… But I still have my responsibilities (like my baby) and I catch up with family and friends to stay sane. It’s pretty full-on.
B.O.B.: What do you like most about your job?
J.: To be honest, probably days like today when we give people the opportunity to have a little preview of what we do. We make their week or their month through that! It’s a bonus and a great part of what we do.
B.O.B.: What’s something people don’t know about V8 racing?
J.: One thing that I know is that we don’t put big wheels and a big engine in; we absolutely start from scratch. So, there car who had a ride in, we’ve built from scratch in Brisbane. We bolt all the major components of the bar work. Most of these components have been designed on a computer and then printed off. 90 percent of the car we’ve designed. So that’s a big part that people don’t understand, but it’s one that we thoroughly enjoy because we feel like it’s our car.
B.O.B.: Can you tell us a little bit about the car we were in today? Was it one of the normal race cars?
J.: Sure, sure! The car we drove today was the twentieth or twenty-fifth edition of the Holden Sandman. Holden and Red Bull wanted to make a little bit of an edition car. We turned the car into a wagon – or a Sandman, as we like to call it. We’ve put a little more power in the engine – it’s got close to 700 horse power, and our cars usually have about 640. We took away the sequential gearbox and made it pedal shift and recently we’ve put a rear wing on it, which now has got quite a good downforce. It’s a very cool car, but more for a show than go.
B.O.B.: What is racing with Red Bull like compared to other race companies?
J.: That’s a really tough for me to answer because I don’t really know what goes on, but I can take a guess. With Red Bull, we’re a big tight-knit family that love to go racing. We keep it quite raw. It’s a lot of money involved these days, a lot of television, there’s a big fan base. What’s critical is that motor sport is about a group of guys and girls working back at the workshop, coming up with the best car they possibly can and trying to get to the finish line first. That’s what we do and what we love. It’s a drug-like feeling that money can’t buy and once you get this feeling, it’s in your life forever.
B.O.B.: Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments? We know you’ve just won your one-hundredth race – would you say that’s one of your proudest moments?
J.: Yeah, for sure, for sure. We had some great wins. The proudest moments are the ones when there’s awesome team effort and everyone absolutely maximises, achieving their potential. We had a couple of race winnings where everyone from the drivers to the strategy people did a wonderful job and we won that race through teamwork. That’s probably a good summary!
B.O.B.: What was it like to win your first race?
J.: My first race was with Triple Eight. I joined them in 2006. We went to the one of the biggest events. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but everything fell into place. The car was fast, a few people crashed and somehow I was leading the race and ended up winning it. It was a great day. Ten years later I’m here winning my one-hundredth race.
B.O.B.: What’s your opinion on the motor sport industry in Australia at the moment?
J.: My opinion is that it’s strong. The concept of motor sport, grabbing an everyday car – whatever car mommy and daddy take to get the kids to school or whatever you take to get the groceries – whatever it is, we will put it on the track and race it. There is a lot of young kids coming through, especially when it comes to Go-karts.
B.O.B.: Have you ever driven in any other cars?
J.: I’ve had really limited experience, but one of the highlights of my life was a full lapse in a car around Melbourne Park. I got that opportunity from an old sponsor from Vodafone. Great life experience. I’ve been able to do an event called the Race of Champions this year, where I’ve driven really cool cars. Today we often see teams coming with different kinds of cars.
B.O.B.: In the history of V8 Supercars, who is your favourite driver?
J.: I’d probably say Craig Lowndes. He’s the man and the greatest of all time. Even when he’ll retire, he won’t stop going!
And who else would you look up to if you’re already a legend of the track? None other than team mate, Craig Lowndes. Craig is the only other centurion of V8 Supercars with 105 V8 Supercar wins to his name.