After watching on the sidelines his whole life, one McLaren Vale man got to live his dream and race at Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Gil Slade, father of Supercars driver Tim Slade, has been a fan of motorsport from an early age.
The 65-year-old can remember going to watch the 'Great Race' when he was about 16-years-old. "I never had the chance to race, because I never had a race car that was in a category for Bathurst. In those days, they only had the one race every year," Slade said.
Once Tim was born 1985, he set his sights on getting him to the top level of motorsport in Australia. It was an ambitious task as motorsport is often a competition of the biggest bank account rather than the most talent.
Luckily Tim's talents and determination won in the end, because they would have never won the bank account competition. Tim ended up making his Bathurst debut in the Fujitsu Series (a Supercars development series) in 2007 and went on to secure a seat in the main series. He currently races for the Albury-based team Brad Jones Racing and is competing in his 12th season this year.
"When you first see your surname above a pit bay at Bathurst, that is a pretty big achievement," Slade said.
He said he was sitting at the airport having a beer after Tim won his first two Supercar races at Winton and saw a Hyundai Excel racing car come up for sale. It was in a moment of excitement from the successful weekend that he decided to have a go at racing again after a 20-year hiatus.
"They are a great little car for the money and they have just boomed in popularity Australia wide. It is seen as a great category for budget racers or for young up and comers. It was just so much fun, couldn't believe how much fun I was having."
When the opportunity came up to race in the 2019 Federal Tyres Circuit Excel Bathurst Challenge at Mount Panorama as a support category for the 12-hour, Slade was very excited.
He said he got one piece of advice from his son, "keep it flat". "While it is daunting and hard to get a fast time, it (the circuit) flows beautifully. I realise why everyone loves the place so much," Slade said.
Slade realised on the last day that one of the rear brakes was not working, but he admitted it was his fault and that was the way motor racing goes sometimes. He finished 30th out of 55.