Rachael Finch

Flippin’ Finch

It was meant to be a good omen..

It was meant to be a good omen..

My girl supporting Mummy.

My girl supporting Mummy.

First day butterflies.

First day butterflies.

Our space suits.

Our space suits.

Mr Mark Skaife. Champion on and off the track.

Mr Mark Skaife. Champion on and off the track.

Morning bus runs to Sandown.

Morning bus runs to Sandown.

The track we learnt on.

The track we learnt on.

My office for the week.

My office for the week.

A crazy bunch.

A crazy bunch.

A minor prang on day 4.

A minor prang on day 4.

CAMS license holders!

CAMS license holders!

What Robbie McEwen does pre-race. Amazing guy!

What Robbie McEwen does pre-race. Amazing guy!

Our Parade Lap in the Mazda Mx5's. Thanks to Daniel White for my lap of fun!

Our Parade Lap in the Mazda Mx5’s. Thanks to Daniel White for my lap of fun!

Post roll.

Post roll.

 

Last week I got to compete in the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge at the Grand Prix. Yep, hop inside a fast car and race around the F1 track at Albert Park for a spot on the podium. Quietly, I’m super competitive and was determined to get a good result. Everything I’ve been taught about cars – don’t speed, brake slowly, give way, check your blind spot – all went out the window. The opposite applied as I went through driver training, qualifying and then race day. I gotta say, Mark Skaife and his entire team, as well as the team from Grand Prix and Mazda were phenomenal. They gave us one of the best weeks of our lives and I’m so grateful for the experience. The celebs I got to compete against and spend a week getting to know are one-of-a-kind. I met some people who I admire greatly and will always have something special to share with. The adrenaline rush is something I crave even if it is from upside down…

In days 1 – 4 we were introduced to our cars, went through braking & cornering exercises, learnt about the ‘line and length’ of race car driving, studied safety flags, simulated real-life accidents & races with safety cars and asked our instructors lots of questions! We did all our training at Sandown then headed to Albert Park for the final 3 days of racing. The hardest part was getting on the track at Albert Park after feeling comfortable with Sandown. The tracks run in opposite directions and Albert Park is much wider so it meant a different flow in the car.

I may not have got to shake that bottle of bubbles on everyone but I did turn my car upside down… flipped it in fact. It happened in race 1 of the finals going into corner 10, when Clint Stanaway lost control of his car behind me and slid into my back right corner. I then lost control, spun and rolled over smashing into the road barrier. I remember thinking ‘just relax and breathe’. Our Mazda’s were fit for this. My roll cage, seat harness and helmet saved my life. Hanging upside down in my car for a whole 3 minutes felt like a lifetime. I contemplated undoing my seatbelt and opening my door but considered the reaction so decided to do nothing but ‘relax and breathe’. I swear Yoga helped me a lot! I stayed in the same mindset as the one I drove in. All I wanted was for someone to get a message to my husband Misha to let him know I was ok! There were about 80,000 people on ground surely someone saw me… The medical team were amazing, can’t thank them enough for making sure I was okay and that I could repeat my name. As serious as it was it was such a thrill! Totally disappointed that my roll meant starting at the back of the grid for race 2 the next day..!

Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So getting a roll cage in my Nissan Murano for trips to the grocery store now. Don’t forget to buckle up.

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