MUSCLE: Safety car communications driver Berenice Stretton has volunteered at Queensland Raceway for 20 years.
MUSCLE: Safety car communications driver Berenice Stretton has volunteered at Queensland Raceway for 20 years. Cordell Richardson

'Scrambled': What it's like driving the Supercars safety car

A HUSBAND and wife combination behind the wheel of a striking red Ford Mustang will be keeping thousands of horsepower in check this weekend at Queensland Raceway.

Berenice and Brad Stratton are the dynamic duo steering the Vodafone safety car during the Supercars' support category races.

Mrs Stratton communicates with the tower and takes control of the race after an incident is reported on the circuit.

This weekend marks two decades as a volunteer at Queensland Raceway for Mrs Stretton, having started back in July 1999.

"It was a new event and it was special," she recalls of the first Supercars race in Ipswich.

"It's been interesting to see how the event has grown over the past 20 years and the crowd has grown."

For the first 10 years Mrs Stretton was a scrutineer at the circuit before moving into the course car team in 2009.

"It can be pretty stressful," she said.

"You're not just out there cruising around.

"If you're scrambled to an incident and you've got to get out in the middle of the pack to slow the field down it can be stressful, but it's very exciting at the same time.

"That's why the driver has to be a skilled competition driver."

 

Berenice Stretton has  volunteered at Queensland Raceway for 20 years.
Berenice Stretton has volunteered at Queensland Raceway for 20 years. Cordell Richardson

The 54-year old started her career navigating rally events in the '90s before her and Mr Stretton built their own MX5 racecar.

"I do smaller events and it's really enjoyable," she said.

The Queensland State Official of the Year in 2004 will be inside the Mustang during this weekend's support category races.

She expects to be busy, despite the simple layout of Queensland Raceway.

"It's quite a technical track to drive and if you get it wrong it can bite you," she said.

Most people working on the event side of a Supercars round are volunteers, all paying for their passion.

Mrs Stretton keeps coming back for the faces.

"It's exciting to be a part of an event of this calibre," she said.

Dawn at Bathurst creates goosebumps in course car

QUEENSLAND Raceway will create plenty of excitement on-track this weekend, but for Berenice Stretton, nothing will compare to her real motorsport love; Bathurst.   

Mrs Stretton is the safety car communicator at all three of the state's Supercars events; Ipswich, Townsville and the Gold Coast.   

Her favourite Queensland circuit is Townsville; a concrete canyon with a mix of dedicated parkland.  

Mrs Stretton, like most motorsport junkies, rates Mt Panorama at Bathurst on top of the list.   

Unlike almost all fans, though, Mrs Stretton has memories of her special role in the course car on race weekend.   

"The highlight of my career would be doing the rolling start at the Bathurst 12-hour," she said.   

"You're coming over Skyline at dawn and the sun is starting to come up over the mountains and you've got 40 snarling GT cars behind you.  

"It's just goosebumps.  

"That is the pinnacle of our job and all our hard work and experience pays off to start an international motor race."   

This weekend she has promised to keep an eye on the crowd, watching its enjoyment.   

"It's interesting when you're driving around the track and you see the faces of the people," she said.  



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