Hall of Famer Neil Crompton enjoyed an opportunity to sample a modern-day Supercar today at Sandown.
Former driver and esteemed broadcaster Crompton turned laps with Walkinshaw Andretti United during a busy day for Supercars squads at the Melbourne venue.
The demand for rides given the lack of running in Melbourne over the last 12 months meant the team called on Crompton as an extra set of hands.
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WAU fielded three cars and seven drivers across the day; Crompton and youngsters Kurt Kostecki and Jayden Ojeda joining full-timers Chaz Mostert and Bryce Fullwood and co-drivers Lee Holdsworth and Warren Luff.
Crompton drove the squad’s spare car, decorated in a split livery representing both the Appliances Online and Middy’s Electrical colours sported by the squad’s race cars.
It marked a return to the team’s ride program for Crompton, who was part of its lineup for such days regularly in the mid-2000s after he retired from racing.
“It was great, the team gave me plenty of mileage [and I was] eager to keep getting back in. I did four stints and plenty of laps,” Crompton told V8 Sleuth.
“When I first got in I thought, ‘far out, this thing is hot’! When I mentally relaxed a bit on it, I really enjoyed it, it was excellent.
“On the first set of tyres I was a pest to everyone on the track, I couldn’t get in or off turn four or nine properly, I just don’t have my eye in to be able to hustle too hard, but it was still bloody great fun.
“The cars generally feel the same as I remember. They’ve got plenty of grunt thesedays. The modern cars are really beautifully stable, they ride nicely and put their paws on the ground really nicely.
“They’ve much nicer in stability at the end of the back straight than the older cars. I’m not driving them hard enough to properly experience it but sufficiently hard enough to get the feel and a general idea.”
Crompton’s day included one hairy moment; a touch from Anton de Pasquale at Turn 1 that briefly knocked the WAU Commodore sideways!
Crompton competed in 185 Australian Touring Car/Supercars Championship races between 1988 and 2002.
His career behind the wheel included a stint as a driver at the Walkinshaw team, then competing as the Holden Racing Team, in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Crompton’s final start in the category came at Sandown, completing a tough 2002 at 00 Motorsport in the season finale.
He added of the ride day: “It was very cool. I’m really thankful to the WAU guys for the privilege. It was nice that it all came together to be able to do it.
“I was quite touched by being given the responsibility of driving it, having some fun and giving some thrills to plenty of passengers.
“The other upside for me to do something like this today further re-enforces to me how clever, talented and fast the current crop of 24 drivers in the Supercars Championship are.
“I had the best seat in the house out there today!”