JIMMY Vernon is a man in love, in fact he is so much in love he was screaming with joy on Saturday morning.
The 19-year-old who has dreams to become a professional race driver was one of a host of competitors who relished the chance to drive at the iconic Mount Panorama circuit in the Bathurst 6 Hour.
After missing out on 2016’s inaugural edition, Vernon recruited last year’s Class D winner Mark Caine to share his seat in a Toyota 86 GTS for a tilt at the endurance race.
“Last year I was kicking myself that I wasn’t doing it because it was such a fantastic event,” Vernon said.
“The vibe you get when you come to the circuit just instantly lifts your spirits, it makes you remember why we do this sport. Yes I am still seeking to become a professional, so I am taking it very seriously, but at the same time, it brings you back to reality when you come to a place like this. You do this sport because you love it, it’s like a drug.”
Caine, who got his first taste of the Mount Panorama track in 2015, knows exactly how Vernon feels.
“Two years ago was the first time I raced here and it was a one hour race then, it was actually the first time I had raced full stop,” he said.
“I finished something like 17th and I was just happy to push the car back, I was elated I survived. I was skipping around and yelling ‘Yay, I did it’, because it was a bucket list item.”
After going from 36th on the grid, the duo went on to place 19th outright and second in class in Sunday’s race.
While the duo had to work hard behind the wheel given both the large size of the field and the testing nature of the track, Vernon did have a moment on Saturday when he was able to take in his surrounds.
It came when the third practice session was red flagged and Vernon had just clocked a two minutes, 39.609 seconds lap.
“After I set that really, really good lap time, I didn’t radio it in, but I was screaming in the car because I was so happy,” he said. “Then the session pretty much got red flagged straight away, so I had a whole lap to drive conservatively, I got to take the whole track in, all the landscape. It put the enjoyment way back into racing.”