Writer Shane Jones hops into a Toyota 86 Series car for a hot lap with Dean Canto.
Writer Shane Jones hops into a Toyota 86 Series car for a hot lap with Dean Canto. Contributed

Activities at Supercars hit top gear

WHAT had I gotten myself into?

I was in a Toyota 86 race car, strapped in with a five-point harness, and in a racing suit with a helmet on.

I was about to go for a hot lap around Townsville at the Watpac 400 with Dean Canto, a Supercars driver.

He was in the driver's seat, ready to give me one hell of a ride around the tight and tricky street circuit people called Reid Park.

And I was not the only guest passenger.

There were North Queensland Cowboys in other cars in front of me, about to experience the same ride.

Before we headed off I stupidly asked Canto, who will compete with Mark Winterbottom at this year's Bathurst 1000, who was the craziest driver out of the lot taking us out?

"All of us are pretty crazy when we need to be,” Canto said with a smile.

And without much warning, we were off.

Canto ripped through the gears down the front straight out of the pits as I clenched the side rest with my fingers.

After the initial jolt the ride was pretty nice, until Canto hit the brakes.

He left the stopping as late as possible.

The harness came into play and stopped me moving too far forward.

Canto pulled into pit lane and my thumbs were up after the experience of a lifetime. I hoped he said "just kidding” and took off on another lap.

Pushing themselves and the cars to the limit, drivers who compete in the Toyota 86 series form part of the support act of the Supercars Championship that visits 14 circuits in all six Aussie states and one territory.

The Toyota 86 Series visits five of those circuits, and Townsville was the second round of the championship.

It was a weekend of high-octane fun.

The city was abuzz with Holden and Ford fans and every motel and hotel was packed. On the track, the noise was deafening.

From the loud sounds of the V8 engines and other cars, to that rush as the cars drove by with only a fence and gate protecting spectators from the cars, nothing beats a day at the track. There was something for every fan.

Attractions included activities for kids, and performance cars doing burnouts and drifting.

Of course, there was also racing with 400km of Supercars on during the weekend.

But if racing is not your thing and you prefer fine wine and dining, that is also covered.

Supercars offers a VIP experience.

The Hairpin Villa, before the final turn at the circuit at the Townsville 400, was a lesson in luxury.

It included free breakfast, lunch, and drinks with a balcony view where we could view all the action on the track.

For those less inclined to go outside, all the action was also on offer on two televisions.

The villa is ideal for a corporate event or to bring along people who might not be as interested in motorsport.

It is also available for all races including the remaining two Queensland events in Ipswich and Gold Coast and, of course, the pinnacle of Australian motorsport, the Bathurst 1000.

Supercars corporate experience sales manager Jess Golding said the packages provided a way to get any person or racing fan involved in sport.

The food was amazing, the service was first-class and everything was catered for to perfection.

The next round of the Supercars championship will be held in Ipswich in two weeks' time.

Head to corporate.super cars.com/events to view package deals.

The writer was a guest of the Toyota 86 Series for the weekend in Townsville.

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