What a couple of weeks it has been for Cam Waters with almost half of the Supercars field forced to leave their home State of Victoria, due to the increased presence of COVID-19, thereby forcing border closures and travel bans, creating all manner of challenges to the teams.
With his team, Tickford Racing based close by to a known hot-spot area, Cam and his crew of almost 30 have endured a pretty wild time since early June, when restrictions were swiftly brought in on the back of an announcement regarding imminent travel bans by the NSW Premier … and they simply couldn’t have come at a worse time.
As the news hit, Cam was actually halfway home to Melbourne having just spent what felt like a pretty normal weekend away at his parent’s home in Mildura, before a phone call came through from his Tickford team boss, Tim Edwards alerting him to the fact that in order to keep racing he would need to be across the New South Wales border by midnight that evening. Failing to do so that very night - for both driver and team - would result in the four-car outfit not being able to race at Sydney Motorsport Park (SMP) last time out. Incredibly, even racing at SMP in the first place was a direct result of further travel restrictions and a previously announced, forced 14-day isolation being be placed on Queensland-based teams if they were to enter Victoria to race at Winton, which was due to be contested in mid-July.
So, in an instant Winton was off, due directly to just on half of the Supercars field being based in Queensland, and having to self-isolate - at their own expense - on their return from Winton was simply not possible for a number of reasons: 1] being the cost of accommodation alone and 2] there just wouldn’t be anyone available to prepare/repair the cars for the next event if the team were isolated and in lockdown?
The turbulence of that fateful Monday resulted in a very long day for Cam, as he needed to get from Mildura to his home in Melbourne where his racing gear was located, then turn himself around and to drive up to and across the border at Albury before midnight … and with the team having arranged for him to spend the night at a hotel in Goulburn, Cam ended up enduring a mammoth 12-hour drive. Mind you, he wasn’t alone, with the team having to load five cars and all the equipment needed for a lengthy period on the road into the transporters, and then make their way across the border in the same time-frame.
Initially, Cam and the team thought they had until midnight the following day to cross into NSW, but things soon became clear that this in fact was not the case. Ultimately the entire Tickford crew and its transporters made it, as did all other Victorian-based Supercar outfits - of which there are four based in Melbourne - with team members having to say goodbye to partners, wives and kids without even knowing when next they would be back home again.
The Sydney Motorsport Park event included racing at night on Saturday, which was an awesome spectacle for the category, but after qualifying well in third place and claiming sixth in the first race held under lights, Cam struggled with the unique format of teams having to use both soft and hard tyres across the two-day event, ending up in an uncustomary 13th place at the end of the weekend. He still remains in fourth position in the championship points, but will be looking for a much better run next time out at Hidden Valley in Darwin.
But not before Cam and the team will have to spend at least 14-days in Queensland en-route, with the team leaving Sydney on Monday 20th July, and arriving at the Gold Coast via Coffs Harbour on Wednesday morning. Despite the challenges there have been so many stories of generosity spread across the category with fans, members, sponsors and other passionate parties all doing there bit to make the team’s nomadic existence as comfortable as possible. Food, transport, equipment and vehicle use all among the suite of offerings so gratefully appreciated by the team.
In a unique stroke of good fortune, and indeed generosity, Cam’s team will be based at one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations, Sea World on the Gold Coast, where the cars and drivers will also feature in many of the daily attractions, which will create valuable exposure for all concerned. So keep an eye out for some unique activations.
On the back of running consecutive events at SMP, Darwin’s Hidden Valley Circuit will also run back-to-back weekends of racing, and also in front of a (capped) crowd, which will make the extraordinary effort by all concerned in keeping the Supercars show on the road even more worthwhile.
As is expected, the next events will see further curveballs thrown up but the hub-based protocols and processes, as well as the support of other teams and passionate businesses has created a sense of newfound camaraderie and widespread solidarity, which has galvanised the Supercars community. Despite the challenges and with momentum starting to build more events look likely to be confirmed and announced in the very near future, in spite of the obvious limitations that exist as a bi-product of the current dilemma facing all teams.
The first Darwin race will be held over the weekend of August 8-9, with the following weekend seeing the Supercars back on track and likely to run a different format to keep things spiced up and entertaining. For the travelling circus, there is every possibility the team members will be away from home for some six to seven weeks, but at least those from the Southern state will skip the bitter winter cold, while enjoying some sun and warmth up north, which will be some small consolation for missing loved ones, family and friends.
‘Tough times don’t last, but tough teams do’ is a widely held catchcry being heard within the category of late, as Cam, his team and the Supercars category, as one, do their level best to continue to put on the best show in Australasian motorsport.
We have no doubt all ENZED Motorsport Club members wish them all every success during these unprecedented times.