I had quite the weekend on August 27th/28th. It started out extremely early…rather too early for my liking – in fact I still consider it the middle of the night waking up at 6.15am..it wasn’t even light yet!
This was due to the fact Johnnie Walker, the world’s number one selling Scotch whisky gave 48 Malaysians the once-a-lifetime opportunity to Step Inside the Black Circuit and experience the real taste of the high pressure world of motor racing (1 of those people was me!). The Johnnie Walker Pit Crew Experience took place at the Sepang International Circuit, home of the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Anyway after dragging myself out of bed I hit the highway to get to Sepang by 7.30am, the traffic was surprisingly good and it was a very cool and pleasant morning. We did hit a bit of a jam at the exit from the highway towards KLIA/Sepang as there was an over-turned lorry leaving just enough space for us to squeeze past.
We still reached Sepang in good time though, registered ourselves and got down to having some breakfast. After that it was time for the briefing, at which point I started wondering what I’d gotten myself into! I was glad to see some familiar faces in my team though (Henry Golding and Megan Tan from 8TV) and some friendly new faces (Ivan, Sharil and Christina).
This little booklet was JAM PACKED full of info we had to read and digest, the most important thing was reading each of the Pit Crew roles and allocating them out to people with suitable skills. I ended up as the Race Engineer – the ONLY member of the team who can talk directly with the driver during the race, analyzes the feedback on the car and makes the decisions regarding wing angles and tyre pressures. These settings are then relayed to the mechanics who make the adjustments.
Our team (Team Sharper) ended up with Henry & Megan as the Mechanics, Ivan as the Team Captain, Sharil as the Data Engineer and Christina as the Team Coordinator. We worked really well together! Here’s us busy at work in the pits.
We had to weigh the car, calculate the fuel load, after some practice laps we had to discuss and change wing/tyre settings and calculate how much fuel we’d need for the 10 lap race. All fuel calculations are done by weight rather than volume. We also had to make sure the car met the minimum weight requirements by adding 6kg of ballast.
Here’s me having some serious discussions with Simon Sharper, the real big boss and the guy who actually knew what was supposed to be going on. We took our team name from his surname 🙂
Then of course we had to learn to do an actual pit-stop, we weren’t allowed to do the refueling part but we really had to change the tyres and were timed whilst doing it! This is when we were learning the procedure and who would do what, me being the biggest..got the heavy rear jack – which wasn’t actually that heavy. So through-out the pit-stop I just had to stand on the jack to make sure it didn’t flip up and break anyone’s face.
We started off doing it in about 36 seconds, then took that down to 35 seconds which apparently was a pretty good time. After a few practice laps, we adjusted the car got ready and went out for qualifying. Which we won of course! After that it was time to suit up and get ready for the real pit-stop challenge and the 10-lap race. This is us getting all serious in our racing suites.
Credits to our superb driver Robbie Kerr as well – even if he does have a habit of wondering off and disappearing whenever he gets the chance.
And well then it was time to get it on! First up our pit-stop challenged, we rocked out an awesome 31 second tyre-change and left the other team standing.
You can see the end they aren’t even close to finishing 10-15 seconds after we’ve finished! And then of course we won the race as well, the other team car stalled due to a wheel being improperly fixed during the (super slow) tyre change..but we were already 2 laps ahead anyway.
It was a stressful, tiring, bloody hot but epically enjoyable day at the track! Surely a once in the life time experience for any motor-sports fans like myself. Then came the scoring part of the challenge, after all it was a contest between the two teams. Apparently there were around 300+ points up for grabs and we were graded for absolutely everything, including the storming fast tyre change (without mistakes), winning the race due to superior car settings and communication and so on.
BUT WE LOST.
I have no idea why, apparently we didn’t talk enough or something? But we didn’t need to, cos we had it together – everyone knew what they were doing. You don’t see the dudes in the F1 pit hanging around chatting do you? No – they are getting things done! The scores were our team 240 the other team 243, oh well – I had a great time nevertheless – and great job Team Sharper!
This is our official team picture after it was all over.
This was followed up on Saturday night by the Black Circuit at Swedish Marque in KL. Man that was a banging party! Johnnie Walker, the world’s number one selling Scotch whisky also invited Malaysians and guests from as far as Singapore, Moscow, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Paris to Step Inside the Black Circuit Lounge for the ultimate party of the year at the stylishly modern Swedish Marque.
The DJ’s were great (Andrew T, Goldfish and Havana Brown) and the Johnnie Walker Black Label was flowing non-stop. I honestly didn’t really take any pictures because I was busy having fun! That’s how good it was.
Everyone who was everyone was there, all kinds of celebs, TV hosts and musicians. The super hawt Havana Brown was really rocking the party, loved the tracks she was laying down.
Here’s an awesome video from the party by Johnnie Walker.
Here’s us rocking out at the party!
Everyone partied hard, and partied all night long – can’t wait for the next Black Circuit event.
Sunday of course, I was exhausted from the all the excitement and took a well deserved rest. What a weekend!