For me, Jamie Whincup is Australia’s greatest ever Supercars driver. In his 20-year career, he won an incredible 124 races, stood on the podium another 143 times, and qualified in pole 84 times. Above all else though, it’s Whincup’s seven championship victories that truly make him stand out above the rest.
Now 40, Whincup is the Team Principal and Owner of Triple Eight Race Engineering, the team he spent 16 years of his career at. He also remains a co-driver in both the Supercars Championship and GT World Challenge Australia.
In 2021, Jamie Whincup released his memoir Drive of a Lifetime, giving fans behind-the-scenes insights into some of the most memorable moments from his illustrious career. These insights are made extra special, given that Whincup has no social media and is known to stay out of the public spotlight. Personally, as a lover of sport, getting to know the man behind the legend is always something that I love, and this book does exactly that.
The book is divided into 12 chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of Whincup’s life and career. We learn about his early days in go-karting, the challenges he faced upon first entering V8 Supercars, and the key moments that propelled him to become a championship-winning driver. Whincup’s writing is honest and engaging, and he shares intimate details about his personal life, including the sacrifices he made and the relationships he built along the way.
This memoir feels different from others I’ve read. Whincup seamlessly ties his racing experiences to personal life lessons and reflections. He talks about the importance of having a positive mindset, the role of hard work in achieving success, and the impact of mentors in his life. These insights are not just valuable for aspiring drivers, but for anyone who wants to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
One of the most intriguing sections in the book comes in Chapter 6 – Car V. Driver, where Whincup recounts the 2014 Bathurst 1000, one of the most dramatic races in Australian motorsport history. In this chapter, Whincup gives readers an inside look at the highs and lows of racing at Mount Panorama, and the crucial moments that ultimately led to his team’s heartbreaking defeat.
The chapter begins with Whincup and his co-driver, Paul Dumbrell, leading the race with only a few laps to go. They had dominated from the start, and victory seemed within their grasp. But then of course, disaster struck. Whincup made a critical mistake, misjudging the amount of fuel left in his car and running out just metres from the pit lane. The team frantically tried to refuel the car, but it was too late. They lost valuable time and fell to fifth place, handing the victory to their rivals.
Whincup’s description of this moment is both gripping and heartbreaking. He conveys the intensity of the race and the pressure he was under to perform, as well as the crushing disappointment of coming so close to victory only to lose it in dramatic circumstances. He also reflects on the lessons he learned from this experience, including the importance of staying focused and calm under pressure and the need to always be aware of the fuel levels in your car.
What makes this chapter so intriguing is how Whincup engagingly illustrates what goes on during a big race. He talks about the strategies his team used, the challenges they faced, and the decisions they made in the heat of the moment. He also discusses the relationships between drivers, co-drivers and teams, and the camaraderie and rivalry that exists in the world of motorsport.
A more general but still fascinating aspect of the book is Whincup’s in-depth look into the world of V8 Supercars. Whincup shares stories about the intense competition, the gruelling training regimen, and the teamwork required to win races. He also talks about the challenges of balancing the demands of racing with his personal life, and the strategies he has developed to maintain his mental and physical wellbeing.
Among the highlights of the book are the stunning photographs that accompany the text. From action shots of Whincup tearing around the track to candid moments with his family and team, the images provide a visual feast for readers and enhance the storytelling.
All in all, Drive of a Lifetime is an inspiring and uplifting memoir that will appeal to not just motorsport fans but anyone who enjoys a good underdog story. Whincup’s passion for racing and his commitment to excellence shine through in every page, and his positive attitude and growth mindset are infectious. Whether you’re looking for motivation to pursue your own dreams or simply want to experience the thrill of V8 Supercars through the eyes of one of its greatest champions, this book is must-read.
Photos by Anthony Lewsam