‘I WON’T BE FAKE’: WHINCUP OPENS UP ON ‘WHINGECUP’

Jamie Whincup faces the grandstand at Sandown in 2008. Pic: an1images.com

THE official release of Jamie Whincup’s new autobiography is edging closer – and V8 Sleuth has an exclusive excerpt.

Co-written with Scott Gullan, Jamie Whincup: Drive of a Lifetime can be pre-ordered in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop ahead of its release on November 30.

Whincup gives a frank, in-depth look at his journey from junior karting to a seven-time Supercars Champion and four-time Bathurst 1000 winner, sprinkling in a bit of his own philosophy towards life among candid stories from throughout his career.

One of the topics he opens up on is how he handled fans and the media when he became a regular fixture at the front of the Supercars field, admitting that he now looks back at some old interviews and cringes.

Enjoy the edited extract below.

‘How dare you not stop. We’d waited two hours.’

Welcome to another day on social media. This one was a Facebook message from an angry mother because apparently I’d ignored her little Johnny and didn’t sign his poster when

I was on my way to start a race.

Obviously I didn’t see little Johnny, or it was at an inappropriate time where my focus was on getting to the garage to prepare for what I was paid to do.

Unfortunately this had become a regular thing. I was getting attacked more and more on social media and while I told people I didn’t look at it, I did have a scroll every now and then. I certainly had an understanding of what was going on. While there was a little bit of frustration, I was more trying to understand what was causing it.

Jamie Whincup signing autographs with teammate Craig Lowndes and friend Will Davison. Pic: Supplied

To be fair, I didn’t help myself.

The thing was, I didn’t sign up to be a good guy. I didn’t sign up to be a role model and I certainly didn’t sign up to be a media performer.

In my mind I signed up to drive a Supercar as fast as I possibly could and to work with a team to design and build a car that wins Triple Eight races.

As more attention came my way with the more races I started to win, I didn’t handle the media very well. If anything, I went out of my way to do a bad job. My theory – which in hindsight was ridiculous – was that if I did a bad job then they wouldn’t want to talk to me again.

In reality, I was making it very easy for the fans and the public to hate me. I did a really good job of giving someone who might have a 50–50 view on me every opportunity to say: ‘He’s a wanker.’

People said I was arrogant. I was. I don’t regret that and I certainly don’t regret doing whatever I needed to do to get the most out of myself because that helped me to win championships. But there was no gain for me to do a bad job in the media and come across in a way that wasn’t really me. There are interviews I’d watch back years later and cringe at how I’d behaved.

The problem was I didn’t have the skills back then to deal with it. Ironically I had the perfect person beside me to learn from.

Whincup and Lowndes on the Bathurst podium in 2007. Pic: an1images.com

Craig Lowndes was the ultimate fan favourite, loved far and wide by everybody. He’d learnt how to deal with the spotlight by leaning on the greatest of all time, Peter Brock. So he put a big emphasis on his media profile and fan interaction, whereas that was a low emphasis in my books.

I simply had it in my head that if I drove the racecar as fast as I possibly could and provided entertainment for people then I was doing my job. I hoped they would be inspired by somebody taking this 600-horsepower piece of machinery to the racetrack and trying to get the most out of it.

I thought the drama of making mistakes, coming up short and then trying again excited the fans. Things like ending up in the gravel trap, hitting the wall, crashing into somebody, getting a drive-through penalty and even losing a tyre.

I hoped people were entertained by someone trying to explore the limits, which is what we did every race weekend. We were out there exposing ourselves and being vulnerable because we were having a crack, and if someone was having a couple of beers on the couch on a Sunday afternoon watching a dog-eat-dog Supercars duel to the very end, then that was real entertainment.

That was my job.

I figured the biggest reward for the fans and the best thing I could do for the sport was to provide that entertainment. To drive fast and win races – and I’m not sure I was capable of doing that and always getting out of the car and being Mr Nice Guy.

Whincup performs a burnout at Sandown in 2008. Pic: an1images.com

It can be very tough because at times you’ve got a fan base that actually wants something different to what you’re genuinely feeling in that particular moment. A lot of them would like to see me get out of the car and say: ‘Oh it wasn’t quite our day, we tried our best but there’s always next year.’

If I said that I’d go home that night, look in the mirror and say: ‘You spun some shit to be Mr Popular.’

I wouldn’t be true to myself, I’d be cheating myself to try and look good in front of others and say what I thought people wanted to hear, rather than actually telling the truth.

This was why I started being called ‘Jamie Whingecup’ on social media.

If an official made a decision that stuffed up a race, for example a flag marshal was too slow doing their job, then I would say it. If that’s how I feel, that’s what I say. Bad luck if I step on some toes.

That wasn’t whinging, that was just calling it as I saw it, because at the end of the day I love the sport and I want what’s best for it. If there are issues I’ll highlight them and, more importantly, I won’t be fake.

Click here to pre-order Jamie Whincup: Drive of a Lifetime from the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.