Bathurst to Morgan Park: Stories from inside the safety car
IT WAS pummelling down rain at Bathurst and word came through that a tree had fallen down on one of Australia's most challenging racing tracks.
Brad and Berenice Stratton were told to scramble, starting up the safety car and racing out to slow down the field and prevent a tragedy.
Heading up Mountain Straight, they drove the Lamborghini safety car and slowed down the drivers to 80km/hr before stopping them at the top of the mountain.
After a half an hour wait, the tree was cleared and they gave drivers the sign that the thrilling race could restart.
Mr and Mrs Stratton have driven the safety car for the Bathurst 12-hour race, V8 supercar support categories around Queensland and about seven times a year lend their driving experience in Warwick.
Hailing from Brisbane, they travel to the Southern Downs to volunteer at Morgan Park Raceway events as well as the Leyburn Sprints.
Mr Stratton started racing cars when he was about 18 years old but about 20 years ago was offered a chance to take out the safety car for the indy cars on the Gold Coast.
With a background in rally driving, Mrs Stratton started sitting behind the safety car wheel about nine years ago.
"You've got to be ready all the time, it's nerve wracking," Mr Stratton said.
"They can just scramble you and you've got to get out and slow the field down."
Mrs Stratton said the couple had seen many crashes at all levels of racing.
"I think people don't understand why safety cars are needed," she said.
"But they need to slow the field down and contain the field when there's an incident so drivers can pass safely through the track.
"It's a serious job, we're not just driving around the track. If you get scrambled have to contain the field."
Driving exotic cars is also part of the deal, as the couple have driven a Porsche, Audio and Lamborghini as safety cars.
They mostly drive the car together for major events, but when they're at Morgan Park Mr Stratton races while Mrs Stratton takes on safety duties.
Volunteering their time to support Warwick motor sports, Mrs Stratton said it was the adrenaline rush and friendships that keep them coming back to the track.
"When the chips are down everyone helps you out," she said.
"Morgan Park is a great track, it's challenging with lots of turns," Mr Stratton said.