We catch up with Jennifer Mullan who made her international motor racing debut at the Phillip Island Classic, Australia in part one of her Diary of a Racing Driver Down Under
Part One – Phillip Island Classic, Australia
It still hasn’t fully sunk in but just two weeks ago I was racing a Formula Ford around Phillip Island in Australia!! I don’t fully know if I have the right words to describe this experience but I’m going to give it a go! The opportunity to go to Phillip Island came about when in 2014 I was racing at the Walter Hayes Trophy in Silverstone and I met a guy by the name of Chris Davison. He also raced a 1984 Reynard just like mine back in Australia. To cut a long story short, we got chatting and kept in touch after the event. One thing lead to another and before I knew it we had put a plan in place for me to travel to Australia in March 2016 to race in the Davison family team, Ecurie Australie. I would be driving Chris’s own car alongside his daughter Claire who was also in a 1984 Reynard, amongst others lined up in the team.
The weekend before the event my right hand man Paul, and myself jumped on an Etihad flight in Dublin to make the 10,000 mile / 23 hour journey to Melbourne arriving on Sunday night Australian time. I’m not keen on flying as it is but 21 hours on a plane was nothing short of torture! Within about 30 minutes of landing I had quickly forgotten how bad it was and the excitement kicked back in. After about two hours of being in Australia I found myself already sitting in my chariot for the weekend; “Black Beauty” as we made a quick pit stop at the workshop on the way into Chris’s farm where we would be staying.
By Tuesday we had settled in nicely and we got our first real taste of Australian weather, it was 34 degrees outside but there was no time for sunbathing, everyone was flat out in the workshop making race seats for myself and UK Formula Ford legend Rick Morris and getting us comfortable in our cars. It was quite a struggle doing this in what were probably temperatures of over 40 degrees inside the shed. It was quite the contrast to when we pour seats at home in the winter in the freezing cold. Everything went to plan and we were all loaded up by Tuesday evening ready for departure to Phillip Island on the Wednesday morning.
Driving in the gate of Phillip Island on Wednesday afternoon was just a surreal feeling. I expected to be jumping up and down with the excitement but to be honest I was a little numb, I just couldn’t believe I was actually there. As the guys were unloading the cars, Richard Davison arranged for Myself and the two UK drivers Rick and Gaius to be brought around in one of the organiser’s cars for a few laps so we could see which way the circuit went. I had been watching YouTube and driving a few laps on the computer but nothing prepared me for seeing the real thing for the first time. Only when you drive the track do you get a feel for the camber of some of the corners and the undulation of the circuit. It was quickly apparent that this was going to be a high-speed circuit and it was going to be important to carry a lot of speed and momentum around the very long lap.
Thursday was practice day and we had three short sessions to learn the track but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pack the rain and sure enough the whole day was a wash out. It did allow me to get a feel for the track and get back in the swing of being in a Formula Ford again after five months, but with the rest of the weekend forecast to be dry, it didn’t really have much other benefit. We were able to get signed on for the weekend that afternoon and once that was all done I was able to relax a little as that was it now, all paperwork etc. present and correct. Next up, qualifying on Friday morning.
Check out Part Two here
5th April, 2016