RAC3R

Mazda RX-7 FD3S at Bathurst – All credit goes to The Lowdown for their incredible photography.

At 100,000 strong, the atmosphere around the race track resembled the Ancient Roman’s Colosseum; excited, energetic and predatory with anticipation.

Down the start/finish straight, the pit-lane was busy with preparations for the upcoming race. Drills whirred, cranks creaked under the strain of hoisting machinery aloft, and there was the usual precise, techno-jargon that all engineers and racers understood better than their native language.

Give me a quarter more boost here.

Turn this exactly 2 more quarter screws.

What’s the tailwind like out of turn 5?

Adjust Mode 75, I repeat, adjust Mode 75

Adjust my front brake bias by an extra 4.7%

Button 9 is now used for overtake function.

You are 4 centimetres too left going into turn 14

If the atmosphere, tension and nerves was getting to Daniel Lockeheart, there were no signs of it as he stood calmly in the garage as engineers fussed over his car. At 19 years old, with dark brown hair that was always cut a bit too short, and emerald green eyes, Lockeheart’s attitude belied his youth, with a seriousness that spoke of much more racing experience than he possessed.

He had the scar to prove it too. A long wicked scar ran across his left cheekbone, courtesy of a stray piece of carbon fibre that smashed through the gap in his visor. Even to this day, Lockeheart recalled the number of stitches required to get his face mended.

It didn’t stop him from getting back in the car, and finishing the race though.

Staring out at the crowd, with his headset over his ears, Lockeheart was busy visualising the track layout of Mount Panorama, for the upcoming sprint race to the sounds of Japanese rock, from his favourite game Gran Turismo – Sport, the inspiring lyrics and addicting electronic rock from maestro Daiki Kasho allowing him to create an internal rhythm of how he would approach each corner.

At a length of 6.213km, Mount Panorama was one of the most unforgiving tracks in the world, with iconic ascents and descents that punished drivers for the smallest of errors. With long straights, that dominate Sector 1 and 3 and incredible difficult braking points, with even trickier chicanes and esses for Sector 2, Mount Panorama barely allowed anyone to breathe, before they start another assault on the track.

Earlier that day, there had already been 4 safety car deployments for the Scuderia Ferrari challenge, with their monstrously wide and powerful Ferrari 488 Evo GT3s crashing at iconic locations that have traditionally always claimed drivers, like The Cutting and The Dipper.

The most spectacular of the crashes caused a red flag, suspending the race, after an overly ambitious Taiwanese driver, pushing his 488 to its absolute limit, came flying down the super long Conrod Straight in excess of 270km/h. With horrible misjudgement of his braking in time for the The Chase corner, the Taiwanese driver sent the supercar flying off into the grass and dirt, plowing through multiple speed signage and flipping the car several times, before coming to a bruising and horrific halt.

Through a miracle, the driver survived the crash, with nothing but a sore neck, thanks to the safety features of the car and his crash helmet. However, due to the severity of the crash and damage to the track, Lockeheart’s tuner sprint race was delayed by an hour.

Whilst other drivers chose to peel off their race suits and get comfortable, Lockeheart instead retreated to the simulator at the rear of his team’s motorhome and played with his lap times, punching in his average lap times from practice sessions and attempting to find the mystery tenths that would enable him to get ahead.

By the time the 15 minute warning came, Lockeheart had driven the circuit so many times, to the point he was driving by instinct, the ideal mental state for a driver as it free up his mind to focus on other tasks. As the announcement died away, Lockeheart merely stepped away from the simulator and walked into the pit garage, his mind clear and still focused on the race compared to other drivers who were now struggling to amp themselves up again.

Interior of the Mazda RX-7 FD3S.

With its average lap time of 2 minutes and 14 seconds, the tuner 20 laps sprint race, was still an exhausting and taxing endeavour, as was atypical of your racing at Mount Panorama. After all, Australian racing, was not so much about clean racing, as it was about who could survive lap after lap of assaulting a course that crashed, banged and trashed every part of your body along the way.

The winner of any race at Mount Panorama was delivered by the elimination of lesser drivers, who cannot handle the stress and were simply not insane enough to post competitive lap times.

45 minutes of long, precise and daring manoeuvring was required by Lockeheart to make up his poor qualifying session starting 7th out of 15 racers. Despite the monumental task ahead of him, Lockeheart was not unduly worried.

His race pace, was something else to behold, and his team knew better than to question Lockeheart’s inherent ability to find gaps where none seemed possible. He was typical of Australian racers …. daring, brash and bordering on insane, but fair on the overtakes and Lockeheart knew he had the machinery to climb where none others could.

His car, a heavily modified Mazda RX-7 FD3S was a 90s JDM that still enjoyed strong competitiveness in hillclimbs and descents. With its iconic rotary engine, providing near perfect power-to-weight ratio, low slung body and precise handling, the Mazda RX-7 FD3S was going to make places over the other modified cars.

But the question was, how many?

As the 5 minute warning came through the garage, Lockeheart stepped into his white RX-7 and listened to the iconic rumbling of the rotary engine at idle. A cross between a growl and a burble, the sound was deafening in the garage, as Lockeheart revved it several times to ensure everything was working well.

Brap … Braappp! Brap .. Brap, Brap, Braappp!

Giving the thumbs up to his engineer, Lockeheart felt the car being lowered down to the floor and waited for the signal from his pit crew, before peeling out into the sunshine and the rough track that only a country like Australia could create.

The starting grid for the Tuner GT Championship, with this final sprint determining the championship leader.

Cheers from the grandstands came through in a muffled roar as they filtered through his distinct red/black crash helmet, and he slid in behind the slipstream of the car in front, a grey BMW M3.

However it was really the top 3 cars that warranted his attention, a dark purple Nissan R33 GTR that belonged to a Japanese racer: Tak Nakigama; a matte red Audi Quattro TT helmed by a young German, Ben Waldorf and the racing green a Porsche 911 that belonged to an Australian, Jordan Chaser. Each car was third, second and first respectively and fine racers all.

It was the Porsche he feared the most though. If Waldorf’s Audi and Nissan of Nakigama could not keep him busy, there was a very good chance, the insufferable braggart at the wheel, Jordan Chaser, would get a clean getaway and pull away on the straights, where the Porsche’s horsepower would outrun anything behind it.

Behind the visor, Daniel Lockeheart scowled at the thought of Jordan Chaser winning the race. Never mind the fact that this race was going to determine who was going to earn a spot at a top level team next season, or that the prize money was enough to cover his rent for 7 months … losing to Chaser was more humiliation than he could bear. Especially after the rude send-off he had given Lockeheart after scoring pole position in the qualifying.

Sighing, Lockeheart looked down at his dash and noted everything seemed OK. Chaser and Lockeheart had a long history and none of it was pretty but his job right now was to catch the man, when he was a full second and a half behind.

As the 20 cars slowly trundled up the track for their formation lap, many began weaving along the straights, attempting to bring more heat into their cold tyres and get them switched on in time for the race. Keeping an eye on the gauge that indicated the tyres’ temperatures, Lockeheart heard his race engineer’s voice over the radio in his helmet.

Just a reminder, 7th position is on the left side of the track when you come to the grid.

Copy that. replied Lockeheart curtly.

As they came through the fastest right-hander that indicated the section known as The Chase , Lockeheart saw Chaser’s green 911 turn left into Murray’s Corner. A strange premonition came over Lockeheart, as he had this strange feeling that his race would depend on a late lunge into that corner.

Shaking it off, Lockeheart heeded his engineer’s advice and parked his Mazda RX-7 on the left side of the track, the inside line as they came to Hell Corner.

The race was now about to begin.

One of the most challenging tracks in the world, Mount Panorama is famous for the Supercar championship and my screams of rage as I scrape the walls and mess up my exits in Gran Turismo: Sport. Many races have been abandoned and sessions ending with me tossing my simulator wheel aside in frustration.

T minus 10 said the race engineer in Lockeheart’s ear.

Silence descended over the grid, with only the rumbling of many different engines to soothe the tension. The crowd’s energy was now suppressed, their excitement now under a bubble of anticipation. People put their food down to watch the start, chatter died away and all eyes were now eyeing the cars on the grie.

Lockeheart flexed his fingers over the wheel of his precious car and found himself murmuring under his breath, as was his habit

Keep it clean. Keep it clean. Clean.

To his rear right, was a eager 8th placed, Taiwanese racer, Tim Wu in his yellow Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, its chassis jumping about as Wu revved his engine aggressively.

His immediate front was taken up by the tail-lights of the 5th placed grey BMW M3 he was shadowing the entire formation lap, driven by an Egyptian, Ishan Koury, a fine racer that had recorded many battles with Lockeheart.

Meanwhile his front right was blocked by a 6th placed orange Holden V8 Commodore, whose engine rumbling was familiar enough to anyone who had the unpleasant experience of being drawn into an impromptu street drag with one at a traffic light and driven by a bogan stereotype, Sam Jones, with his mullet hair peeking out from underneath his crash helemt.

Lockeheart knew his car did not have the acceleration to storm past the Commodore, but if he could draft behind the M3, and judge his braking point right, he could take the Holden in Hell’s Corner.

The 5 dark lights began to flash red, 1 second at a time … one after the other …

5

4

3

2

1

Then they disappeared.

Note the incredible list of decals on the side of the RX-7, each of them indicating the source of the parts in this vehicle. I have always loved RE Amemiya after-market parts and this car exemplifies why I love that brand so much.

Within two tenths of the lights shutting off, Lockeheart slammed his foot down, the rotary engine roaring with all the muscle of its’ 255 brake horsepower and slammed his stick shift into first.

Within seconds, he was shifting into second, and flying down the main straight, following the M3 incredibly closely, with only 2 metres separating the cars from a collision.

Then every single car’s red brake lights lit up, as they approached Hell’s corner.

Up ahead, Chaser had a poor start, mistiming his shifts as he struggled to pull his Porsche 911 away from the pack.

Smelling blood, Waldorf in his Audi nudged closer to Chaser, as they went almost side by side into Hell’s Corner, Chaser desperately trying to protect the inside line, whilst Waldorf struggled for grip around the outside.

Bang!

The two cars touched, bumper to bumper, as the TT’s nose nudged the rear of the 911 and Chaser twisted his wheel to and fro viciously to correct the incoming spin at 90km/h. The over-correction was costly and Chaser cursed Waldorf’s name loudly as the Audi came alongside and overtook him.

The curse became even more pronounced when Nakigama’s GTR also came blazing past, the mighty roar of the Godzilla’s powerful engines screaming in his ears. Slamming his foot down furiously, Chaser punched his 911 down the Mountain Straight, not caring about the small bump that scraped his underside, desperate to regain his lead.

Meanwhile in the pack, Lockeheart had timed his small drag race to Hell’s Corner perfectly, the slipstream behind Koury’s M3 giving him extra speed to out-run the more powerful Commodore. The rotary’s engine kept an running commentary of Lockeheart’s actions with exhaust fire and brapping noises, as he turned the RX-7 into the corner and out-braked Jones’ Commodore by a clear car length.

To both the M3 and RX-7’s delight, Cho’s 86 had gone wide on the exit of Hell’s Corner, the rear wheels of the Toyota scrabbling for grip as it touched the grass. Lockeheart mimicked Koury’s acceleration down the Mountain Straight, as they zoomed past the struggling 86.

Pacing himself and pleased with 2 overtakes, in the space of 1 corner, Lockeheart settled down his heart-rate and focused on following the Egyptian’s BMW through Griffin’s Bend, and then upwards towards The Cutting, the sharp lefts followed by a more sweeping vertical right hander.

As the pair of cars rocketed up the mountain, Lockeheart did his best to keep the car planted and grippy, preferring to not risk drifting his car and destroying the tyres too early. As they reached the peak of the mountain at McPhillamy Park, and begin their slow, technical descent, Lockeheart noted that Koury made a mistake at the Skyline that would compromise the entire flow of his rhythm through the Esses.

Koury had braked too late.

White smoke billowed out from the rear tyres of the M3 as Koury desperately tried to avoid the wall, the car screeching horrifically and filling the cockpit of the RX-7 with the smell of burning rubber.

As the M3 veered raggedly to the right, Lockeheart, without fear nor hesitation, kept his foot steady and the car fast through the smoke of the burning rubber, jinxing his chariot to the left, on the inside line of the corner.

The M3 crunched into the wall, with Koury scrapping the side of his M3 and shattering the left side mirror. Somehow the car managed to right itself, but was now damaged in the most iconic of Mt Panorama ways, the wallrider scar.

Koury’s mistake though, meant that Lockeheart now had nothing between him and the top 3 drivers, with Waldorf still in the lead, Chaser’s 911 having barged its way back into second and Nakigama’s R33 itself only 2 seconds in front.

Clean air, clean laps. whispered Lockeheart inside his helmet, the sweat and perspiration of his concentrated effort soaking into his Nomex balaclava.

The RX-7 slowed down into second gear, as Lockeheart steered the front of the car into the most difficult corner of the track, Forrest’s Elbow, a near blind hairpin, with a steep descent. The turn seemed to last forever, but as the nose cleared the apex, he punched the accelerator, correcting the car as the rear slid out a tiny bit.

It was now time to tackle the Conrod Straight, and achieve top speed.

The rotary engine roared, as the rev indicator went to the red limit, then flicked down as Lockeheart shifted up. Within seconds, the RX-7 was carving a hole through the air, at 240km/h, nearing its absolute top speed, before Lockeheart lifted his foot ever so slightly to swing the car to the left, to prepare for the fast right hander that would end with The Chase’s chicane of left and right turns, a move designed to bring cars from their top speed down to a crawl of 80km/h.

Conscious of the Ferrari 488 that came before, but aware he had to be committed, Lockeheart blasted through the sweeping right turn and then slammed on the brakes, as he approached the turn, downshifting expertly mid-way through the corner, so he could reserve speed. Short shifting as he approached the right turn, he kept his revs high as the car screamed the last 200 metres to the final corner, Murray’s Corner that led onto the main straight.

The braaaaaaapppp of the rotary’s engine thrilled every single spectator on the grandstands as they watched the white RX-7’s front left wheel deftly cut the corner perfectly, millimetres away from the wall, and come shooting through onto the main straight, flames shooting out the exhaust as the engine fired its way up into high revs again accelerating the low slung car across the finish line in a blur of ferocious speed.

Cheers followed the car as it braked hard into Hell’s Corner and once again began its ascent into Australian bushland racing.

The Lowdown has a talent for finding the best modified vehicles, with owners that have an serious eye for aesthetics. Am proud to say that the company is based in Melbourne and that their website is quintessential car porn.

Gap to car in front, is 5-tenths. You are within 2 laps of getting Nakigama. Hunt. Him. Down.

The race engineer’s voice echoed in Lockeheart’s head, as he roared past Hell’s Corner for the 13th time. After the heroics of the first lap, the race had settled down, with drivers now concentrating on maintaining smooth rhythms through turns and chicanes and bumps. Koury in his M3, for a time had mounted a challenge to Lockeheart’s pace, but after 4 laps of chasing, was unable to keep the iconic black strip of the Rx-7’s taillights in view and dropped back to manage his tyres.

On his side of the cockpit, Lockeheart ignored the threat, choosing to focus on his laps and listen to his race engineer as they told him when to brake later and when to relax, to conserve his tyres. Thanks to his smooth and consistent driving, the RX-7 was in a serious contention for a podium finish, with Nakigama’s R33 now within sight, just disappearing around the next corner, as Lockeheart chased.

By the end of the 15th lap, Lockeheart was now within 2 tenths of Nakigama, the 4 red tail-lights of the R33 taunting him only metres in front.

As they both cleared Hell’s Corner, and proceeded down the Mountain Straight, Lockeheart kept his RX-7 directly in the slipstream of the much bigger purple car and felt, rather than saw, his car get closer and closer to the rear bumper of the R33.

With just 200 metres to go of the straight left, Lockeheart jinxed his car to the right, taking inside line to Griffin’s Bend, as Nakigama began his braking early.

Carrying more speed, Lockeheart waited for a heart-stopping second as the rear of his car cleared past Nakigama and downshifted, as the RX-7 screamed in high revolutions into the corner, the front right clipping the off-camber kerb and the RX-7 roared again, as Lockeheart upshifted, and put his foot down, the white paint of his car, millimetres from wall-riding out the exit and to the complete shock of Nakigama, was already halfway up towards The Cutting by the time he accelerated.

The victorious roars of his crew came through the radio, as Lockeheart smiled in relief at the daring move and began to negotiate the next series of turns.

Yes mate! Fucking yes! OK, Waldorf and Chaser up next, they are only 9 tenths ahead! breathed his race engineer heavily into the radio, as he struggled for air after his exuberant cheering.

By the time the 20th lap came, Lockeheart was eyeing the Audi of Waldorf’s as it cleared its way through the Esses, Chaser finally overtaking the German on the prior Lap 18, down the Conrod Straight.

It was also at the critical point of the race, where all the drivers were suffering from massive degradation on their tyres and lap times were increasing, as the cars were unable to push their limits any further. Wallriding was now more common, with Tran’s Impreza and Wu’s yellow Evo X retiring in the pit lanes after extensive damage to their front bumpers and side doors.

Other racers like Koury’s M3 and Lowry’s brown Golf kept going, but due to their wallriding scare, were unable to post competitive lap times, falling prey to calmer heads like Suki Fujiwara, the only female racer on the grid, whose pink RX-8 was now entering into the Top 5, her car now attacking the rear of Cho’s 86.

It was also time for Lockeheart to take advantage of the unique properties of his RX-7 FD3S. With lap times such as they were, drifting was now a viable option, although Lockeheart would have to use it sparingly to save the grip for the long straights.

It was this weapon that Lockeheart intended to use for the two cars that separated him from victory.

Is there anything more pleasing to a gearhead than the sight of a beautifully crafted machine, against the backdrop of a gorgeous landscape and road? The answer is no.

Lap 21 commenced and Lockeheart was still behind Waldorf, his Audi employing dubious defensive techniques that restricted passing. As they roared past the spectators standing at Quarry’s Corner, Lockeheart knew that he was running out of laps to hunt down Chaser who was maintaining a strong 5 tenth gap between himself and the two cars running behind him.

Still pressuring Waldorf, Lockeheart began to feint his car to the inside as they passed Reid Park, the Germa gamely blocking the move with a blatant block that covered the entirety of the track.

Lockeheart backed off, braking for a nanosecond, as he allowed Waldorf to retain the lead into Turn 7, before again baiting Waldorf with a move that was never going to work in Turn 9.

Waldorf took the bait, again, blocking Lockeheart’s feint, moving his Audi over to the left, leaving the right side of the track clear into Turn 10.

As the two cars came through the small straight that separated Turn 9 and 10, Waldorf began to brake for the dip into Turn 10, maintaining his left side of the track.

But as he downshifted cautiously, the brap, brap, braapppp of Lockeheart’s rotary engine filled the cockpit of the Audi and the German could only watch in astonishment, as at nearly 100km/h, the RX-7 FD3S came drifting to the right of him!

The white Mazda blazed past in an arrogant showman display of driving skills and insane desperation, and Waldorf could only watch, his mouth agape as the Mazda continued sideways down the track, tyres screeching and burning, before performing an inertia drift the other direction, the car’s long nose facing the right direction, just in time for the Skyline’s Turn 11 right hander.

His astonishment and fear of a crash, had inevitably caused the Audi TT to slow down and by the time he recovered from his shock, Lockeheart’s Mazda had already gong through the Esses and begun slowing down for The Dipper, a full 6 tenths ahead of the stubborn German.

The cheers that came through the radio, was only matched by the flabbergasted screams of delight from the entire circuit as they watched the replay of the overtake in slow motion, each race-fan’s attention now focused solely on the image of the white Mazda RX-7 FD3S chasing down the racing green Porsche 911.

As Lockeheart sped down the Conrod Straight, and into the final corner, a Mexican wave followed his progress, the crowd now fully invested in his pursuit of a win.

I remember seeing this car for the first time, and just admiring the overall curvature of it all. It is such an undeniably attractive chassis and in spite of its age, still remains a stunning representation of Japanese automotive aesthetics.

Lap 24 of 25.

Lockeheart’s mind was now melded completely into his machine. Every single turn was taken even smoother than it was before. The sensation of driving was instinctual, guttural and beautifully balanced. Even the car’s slight wiggles as the tyres struggled for grip, were corrected within a microsecond. After a single lap, it was clear to all, who had the superior pace.

By the time the RX-7 had climbed to the peak of Mount Panorama on the 24th lap, the distance between Chaser and Lockeheart was now within 3 tenths of each other.

Less than 2 car lengths apart.

Game on.

Lockeheart harassed the 911 all the way through the Esses and even managed to nudge his nose past the 911 on the entrance of Forrest’s Elbow. However the 911 was not a machine to be underestimated lightly, the superior horsepower on the precision driving machine instantly checking the RX-7 in place, as both cars rocketed down the Conrod’s Straight.

But it was in the turns where the RX-7 shone, and the crowd were on their feet, as they watched the RX-7 shoot through the chicane of The Chase and gain on the 911 as they approached Murray’s Corner.

They entered the corner, end to end.

Chaser, in his desperation, braked checked Lockeheart. Slowing down more than necessarily, intending for the RX-7 to ram into the back of his 911.

Lockeheart’s green eyes widened, as he recalled the odd feeling he had before the race, in the formation lap.

Man and machine reacted instantly, and Lockeheart spun the wheel, sending his car into a drift, around the rear of the 911 and on the outside.

Boos turned into yells of encouragement as the crowd watched the white RX-7, flames brapping and smoke shredding from the tyres, almost overtook the 911, the two cars crossing the line side by side.

The final lap was now commencing.

Do or die.

The 911 entered Hell’s Corner for the final time, ahead.

The RX-7 completed the same turn, a nanosecond later.

The sounds of the rotary clashed with the aggressive growl of the Porsche all the way down the Mountain Straight.

The RX-7 once again, shows its nose alongside the 911 as they enter Griffin’s Bend almost side by side, the 911 only just edging out the RX-7 as they shoot through The Cutting, then Quarry Corner, up past Reid Park, and into Frog Hollow.

Chaser’s breathing is erratic and his heartbeat is pounding away nearly at the same beat as his engine.

Lockeheart’s breathing is shallow but controlled, the rear lights of his prey all he can see, as he probed for any opportunity.

Then, there it was, at the most critical section of the race, where Lockeheart had seen the most luck swing his way.

Skyline, Turn 11.

Chaser, panicked, stressed and desperate, unaware of the stress his tyres had gone through after 25 laps of hard racing, not caring and frantic for breathing room away from Lockeheart, over-committed into Skyline

Realising a nanosecond after his fatal error, Jordan Chaser slammed both of his racing boots into the brake pedal and yanked hard on the handbrake.

But the tyres had no grip, regardless of how much braking power the 911 possessed.

A huge lock-up occurred, as the wheels refused to spin, and the smoke that came from the rubber burning clouded the track.

Daniel Lockeheart didn’t even pause. He went to the inside of Skyline and neatly overtook the POrsche, as the poor 911 wall-rode for an excruciating 2 seconds, before Chaser managed to peel it away.

Through The Dipper the RX-7 flew, right, left, right, left before slowing down for Forrest’s Elbow.

As Lockeheart came to a crawl around the Elbow, he briefly checked his rear view mirror and within a heartbeat of realising what was going to happen, punched his accelerator harder than he had ever had, as Jordan Chaser came back at him, intent on vengeance.

The 911 almost slammed into the back of the RX-7.

Lockeheart and Chaser flew down the Conrod Straight, both cars whining as they were pushed to their limit for the final time. The 911 roared in Lockeheart’s mind, as it came alongside the RX-7 and was about to overtake him.

NO! screamed Lockeheart in his mind.

But then they had to slow for the fastest right turn on the circuit, and both cars were side by side when they approached the final chicane: The Chase.

It was then Lockeheart did the unthinkable.

He yielded the lead to Chaser. He allowed the 911 to pass him into the final chicane

Chaser braked harder than he had ever done before as he tried to set up his car for a good exit out of final turn of The Chase.

But he had mistimed it all wrong, and he was upshifting poorly as his 911 neared Murray’s Corner. Chaser though was confident. Lockeheart had let him past, he was going to win. No matter what he did, poor entry speed into Murray’s Corner or not, the race was his.

So Jordan Chaser gingerly took Murray’s Corner … much slower than he needed to.

It was then, Lockeheart initiated his plan. He knew, deep down, that the 911 was going to beat him down the Conrod Straight. So this was his only chance. The only time he could catch Chaser off-guard. When he thought he had gotten the final jump over Lockeheart.

The 911 had just begun its left turn onto the straight, to the boos of the crowd, when to their utter shock, delight and disbelief, Daniel Lockeheart’s white RX-7 FD3S drifted around the outside of the 911, the wheels smoking hot rubber on the tarmac of the road, and as both cars found their grip for the final tiny drag race, Daniel Lockeheart with his high revolutions and perfect timing on the upshift, nudged his car a mere 10cm ahead of the 911!

To the spectators, it looked like both cars crossed the line together, but when their eyes ventured up to the leaderboard, it was D. LOCKEHEART that was at the top!

Daniel Lockeheart had won, by a margin of 0.003.

3 thousands of a second.

The roar of a ballistic crowd and his team shattered everything Daniel had managed to build up for himself before and during the race and everything came out in a yell. His joy, his fears, his excitement, and his relief

YESSSSSSSSSS! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YEEESSSSSSS! screamed Lockeheart through the radio, his voice jubilant and echoing through the garage as his team of mechanics hugged each other in a big huddle, jumping up and down ecstatically.

YOU ARE THE MAN BRO! You are the goddamn man! I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT MOVE. You had us so bad with that fake-out out of Turn 22. Insane! screamed his race engineer.

Daniel Lockeheart laughed. Ah man. WE DID IT! YES! Great job today boys. The car felt unbelievable. This one is for us.

As Daniel waved to the crowd on the cool-down lap, through the open window of his Mazda, he looked down at his car, and patted the steering wheel gratefully.

Thank you car. whispered Daniel.

He was now a King of the Mountain. A race winner at Bathurst. A champion.

Author’s Note

Another surprisingly long short story, clocking in at 5K plus words, this one was mostly inspired by my constant re-reads of Hover Car Racer by Matthew Reilly in my teen years. I couldn’t put that book down, such was Reilly’s way with words and my already strong obsession with racing. I tried to do my own imitation of his fast paced writing, but honestly, I doubt anyone can copy his frenetic style.

This one is a love letter to racing, and what I have always loved and raced in video games. I am a self-confessed fan of 90s JDMs, having watch Initial D an unhealthy number of times and falling in love with their aesthetic, despite poor performance in comparison to other cars. Nowadays, the love is less obsessive, but I still harbour a strong soft-spot for them.

In reality, a 911 drive by someone capable, would easily smoke a RX-7 FD3S but then that is half the fun, imagining a scenario where a humble JDM, modified and restored with care and love, could go toe to toe with a high performance vehicle, costing twice as buy. After all, it’s usually the pilot that makes the final crucial difference between winning and losing.

A confession: I have actually never been to Mount Panorama, in Bathurst, but have always wanted to go, after hearing so much about the track and its quintessential Australian nature. I can already attest to the difficulty of the track, mostly judging from the endless number of laps I have put on it, in Gran Turismo – Sport.

I chose this track, because of its hill-climb and sharp descent, as well as iconic straights that can play to the strengths of a lot of different cars. However, that said, it is indeed a power circuit, hence why the Australian Supercar Championship is always held there (and why the 911 was able to stage such a late comeback, despite the wall riding).

Heavy inspiration was drawn from The Lowdown.com an automotive lifestyle brand that is based in Melbourne. I have been a fan of theirs, ever since exploring their high production videos on Youtube and am grateful for all the photos they have taken over the years, many of which are now wallpapers on my PC. I can only express my envy at some of the project cars that they have covered over the years and it was this feature that inspired me to use the RX-7 FD3S as the hero’s car.

As always, I hoped there aren’t too many grammatical mistakes and that you enjoyed reading this.

~ Damocles.

One last glory shot of the RX-7 FD3S, moving at speed at night, it’s luminous paint and black accents looking absolutely resplendent. Nothing beats a drive a night.

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