Tickford Racing driver Thomas Randle experienced a ‘hot lap’ of a different kind at the weekend at Bathurst 1000.
CAPTION: Tickford Racing driver Thomas Randle in the front seat of an EC-135 helicopter at Mount Panorama during the Bathurst 1000. Story by Sub Lieutenant Jess Gould. Photo by Leading Seaman David Cox.
Switching out his Ford Mustang for an EC-135 helicopter, the V8 Supercar driver got a bird’s-eye view of the Mount Panorama circuit with the Commanding Officer of 723 Squadron, Commander Sam Dale, at the controls.
When the opportunity arose to represent the Navy at the Bathurst 1000, it was an opportunity Commander Dale couldn’t turn down.
With a background in motor racing in various forms, he has kept a keen and lifelong interest in motorsports.
“I think it is important to highlight the parallels between motorsport and military aviation. Managing risks, making high-speed decisions, and working in a team are all key elements across both endeavours,” Commander Dale said.
“That’s why it is great to take an aircraft to Bathurst – we’ve got dozens of young people just like Thomas Randle in our classrooms and aircraft, training for their own great race, and we’ve got room for plenty more.
“I’d encourage any young people watching the Supercars to consider a career in Navy aviation – there are openings for pilots, other aircrew and technicians, and it is similarly challenging and rewarding as competing at the highest levels of motorsport.”
Far above the track on which the Supercars cover 1000km each October, Thomas Randle got a turn at being in control of the EC‑135.
While the training helicopter might be more akin to a Formula 3 or other junior categories of a racing car, the unique perspective gave Thomas a leg-up over his competitors.
It was not the first time Navy and Tickford Racing have come together.
An industry outplacement for technical sailors has been in place since 2011, proving a successful and mutually beneficial program.
Tickford Racing CEO Tim Edwards said the skill, passion and discipline the Navy sailors brought was a major benefit.
“We’re learning from them; they’re learning from us,” Mr Edwards said.
A small team of personnel from 723 Squadron set up a static display of the EC-135 aircraft from October 6-9, engaging with the public at the Bathurst 1000. Similar support will be provided to the MotoGP at Philip Island from October 14-16.