Crows speedster Charlie Cameron received a taste of life in the fast lane of the V8 Supercars series in a recent meeting with Brad Jones Racing driver and Crows Ambassador Tim Slade.
Rarely outdone for pace on the footy field, Cameron was treated to a guided tour of Slade’s team garage, wandered the starting grid of the Clipsal 500 track, and even sat in the cockpit of Slade’s Freightliner Commodore.
Cameron sampled some of the technology available to V8 Supercar drivers while behind the wheel, as well as to engineers and the crew on the pit wall and in the garage.
The 21-year-old holds a special interest in cars and motorsport. He was a second-year apprentice mechanic in Perth before being drafted by Adelaide as a rookie in 2013.
Cameron said he was blown away by the opportunity to meet Slade and experience life inside the V8 Supercars paddock.
“It was pretty cool for Tim to show me around the garage,” Cameron said.
“He (helped) me sit in the car and showed me what happens inside. It was a dream come true.
“I wouldn’t mind going for a drive for a lap!”
A lifelong Crows fan who grew up in Adelaide’s south, Slade said it was a privilege to give Charlie an insider’s view of the sport.
“It was cool to show Charlie around today,” he said.
“He was pretty interested to get in and have a look at the car and the whole setup of the garage. It’s always nice to show someone round who appreciates cars and motor racing.”
Slade played school and club footy with the McLaren Vale Eagles while juggling his burgeoning motorsport career in his early teens and has always held a passion for the game.
“The guernsey in primary school football was Crows colours, and so it was at club football at McLaren Vale as well,” Slade said.
“I always loved my football. I loved getting out there with my school mates and then again after school.
“It’s no different to motor racing really. I really loved the team environment. It’s pretty awesome achieving success when you’re within a team.”
Slade’s success on the track continued as the years went on, as did his demanding schedule. He was forced to make the difficult decision to give away the Sherrin and focus on life on four wheels.
“I got to a stage in Under 16s there where my football started to suffer as a result of being away every second week go karting with Dad somewhere around Australia,” Slade said.
“That was the point where I probably realised that motor racing was something that I wanted to make a career out of, and to ditch the footy boots and focus more so on the motor racing.”
It’s proved a successful choice for the now accomplished V8 driver. He’s notched countless points finishes, nine podium placings and a pole position to become one of the series’ most consistent performers. Slade will be aiming to crack his maiden win at his home race this weekend at the Clipsal 500 in what will be his 100th round start.
Slade now resides on the Gold Coast and travels across the country to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship every year.
Despite his busy schedule, Slade said he always keeps an eye on Adelaide’s progress and is excited about the season ahead.
“I’ve been a Crows ambassador for a couple of years now,” he said.
“I definitely keep an eye on the Crows. I got to know a couple of the guys, and I took Scotty Thompson for a ride around here actually a couple of years ago.
“I always keep an eye on him. He’s had a long and successful career. It’s good to see him, I guess as an older boy, still doing as well as what he is. It’s good to see the young guys come through as well and doing as well as what they are.”
Slade and fellow V8 Supercars star Nick Percat were invited back to Adelaide’s West Lakes training facility on Thursday morning to meet with players, coaches and staff.
The pair spoke with Senior Coach Don Pyke and sampled a training session from the sidelines as the players were put through their paces.
First Practice for the Clipsal 500 begins on Friday at 10.25am ahead of the three-race weekend on Saturday and Sunday.