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Interview with V8 Supercar Driver – Todd Hazelwood

What are the biggest challenges for someone chasing a career in racing and how did it come about for you?

The biggest challenge in Motor Sport is getting the right people around you. You are forever relying on other people to achieve the dream for one person. The next step out of go-karts meant that my family had to do a lot of fundraising and sponsorship to get me to the next level. Everything we did was from scratch, so it was a lot of hard work from many people around me.

What are the key attributes to make it in your sport?

These days you have to be the complete package. Race smart and hard on the track while also being a charismatic figure and brand ambassador off the track. There are only 24 drivers in a V8 race, so that’s 24 drivers vying for a spot in any race. So you have to be damn good on and off the track to get a place and make it in Motorsport. As a kid I followed the sports superstars and you really admire the ones who are skilled as well as smart on and off the track.

Who is your all-time favourite race car driver and why?

I don’t have one all time favourite but rather a top three. One is my childhood hero who was Dick Johnson. I grew up idolising him as my family did! My second is Craig Lowndes – the smiling assassin. Craig is someone to be admired as he does so much for Motorsport on and off the track. And of course Marcos Ambrose, who I grew up watching him race. Marcos bought a different element to racing, as his ability to be aggressive on the track, showed his level of determination to be the best.

Do you have a mentor to lean on for support and advice?

No, I never had a mentor or a coach. I do reach out to different people for advice on things like sponsorship, but I never have had a mentor in Motorsport. An overall mentor in my life would have to be my dad. He has always guided me and advised me on everything. He always has said to me “there’s a line in the sand, don’t ever cross the line, son and you will be fine”.

What makes an ideal co-driver?

Someone who is reliable and someone who always brings back the car in one piece!

Where would we find you if you aren’t racing or training?

In the shed. I always have a project car on the go and it’s the first thing I go to. I find it relaxing for the head. 

What “project car” are you working on at the moment?

Well it’s more like a long term project car that I’m working on. When I was 12 years old, the family were selling land and items from the shed, off the family farm. I asked for the 1955 Ford MK1 Zephyr that had been left in the shed for many, many years. It was my grandpa’s, so it’s an extra special project for me. 

Which other sports/teams/athletes do you follow?

Cricket. I played cricket at school until I was 14-15 years old and I was always really keen on continuing to play, that was until I got into go-karting. I am a fan of Ricky Ponting and Steve Smith.

What do you do for fitness and how important is cardiovascular fitness for a driver?

Cardiovascular is a huge element of our sport but it’s not really talked about. Racing is like running a marathon, as you lose 2.5-3 litres of fluid every race. Endurance training is key, as you have to manage a high heart rate over a long period of time.

I do a few things to train for this; I do crossfit sessions, sprinting, cycling and I am about to get into mountain biking, as I now live in Melbourne and they have a few good tracks just outside of the city.

How much of an issue is dehydration in your sport and what are the impacts? How do you manage your hydration & diet?

Dehydration is the toughest to manage. The effects of dehydration are physical and cognitive fatigue and you really notice this with mistakes and reaction time. We have a strict hydration plan in place two weeks out prior to a race. You also have 2-3 days of practice prior to a race, so dehydration, if not managed, can hit you really hard on the day. So that’s why we work with a two week plan, but it gets stricter as you get closer to race day.

For my hydration and diet I focus on managing my sugar levels and diet to give me energy, so I can go the distance. I also manage my fluid loss with PREPD. I take a Prime 6-12 hours before my training or race and a Recover straight after. It is important for me to continue the hydration strategy two weeks out, so I can maintain consistency overall in all conditions. The biggest mistake is to maintain a routine/plan for a day or two.

How far from the limit do you keep it in an endurance race? How do you balance speed and durability?

For an endurance race, you really have to pick your battles. Everyone at the start of a race is very tense and nervous and this is where mistakes happen. Once the race is going and there is a rhythm, then you can look at things like – is your car doing the work for you or do you need to push it further. You need to look at the bigger picture and don’t fight battles that will get you nowhere.

You have been competing in the E-Series. Is there a place for simulated racing in the future, as well as live racing?

Yes. The world of motor racing has adapted. Why not continue with E-Series moving forward? It’s a bit of fun and E-Sport is growing at a rate that is very strong. But I don’t want it to take over the real thing! There is nothing like live motor racing.

How close is E-Series racing to the real thing? Are there any real benefits that you can apply to the track?

E-racing has the same element and has a similar technique. But the competition is different in real life. Just being in a car going at the speeds of live racing requires a certain level of skill, that you don’t need in E-racing.

In the world of car racing, what is on your bucket list?

The Dakar Rally would be my dream race, as it includes motorbikes, buggies and trucks. Drivers are not only racing against one another, but also against some of the most extreme desert terrain in the world. 

Jamie Whincup and Will Davison are now regulars at the Noosa Triathlon. Are you in for the next one? – it’s our shout.

Wow, I would never say no, but I would need to do some serious training to get across the finish line!

You became a PREPD ambassador very early on in our journey, why PREPD?

In 2014-15 PREPD was looking for sports people in South Australia to test the product in their given sports field. I also had a friend from motor sport recommend the product to me for hydration, so I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. So PREPD pitched the products to me and I was very keen on trialling the product in my training and racing plan. I used it and immediately saw the benefits from it. So it’s now become my secret weapon. 

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