MOUNT Panorama is his home track, but Brad Schumacher was still pinching himself last week that he was part of the Bathurst 12 Hour field.
The driver line-up for the annual enduro oozed class with not only big names from the Australian Supercars series amongst those tackling the Mount, but international GT3 racing stars.
There alongside them was Schumacher.
Though the Ginetta Australia entry he raced was a GT4 car and not in the same league as those who battled for outright honours, to be part of a international event of that calibre for the first time in his career is something Schumacher won’t soon forget.
“It was certainly an experience,” he said.
“I did have to pinch myself when we went to the first drivers' briefing. When I sat down and here we've got van Gisbergen, Lowndes, Whincup, Chaz Mostert, Davey Reynolds and that’s just your Australian drivers, there were also the international drivers.
“You go into this briefing room and I was sitting there thinking ‘Yeah, I’m definitely under qualified to be sitting in this room at the moment’.
“But everyone was really nice, it was actually amazing how many of those drivers knew who I was - maybe because I was the local boy - and a lot of them, in particular Lowndesy, came up and said 'Best of luck Brad'.”
READ MORE: Schumacher earns a Bathurst 12 Hour podium
READ MORE: Lowndes receives official recognition
When it came to luck it was a mixed bag for Schumacher and his team. Their cool suits didn’t work, the ABS, traction control and dash system failed and staying out of the way of the faster GT3 entries was tricky.
On the flip side, he joined co-drivers Jimmy Vernon and Aaron Love on the podium at the end of the day as they placed third in class.
The experience was good enough to make him keen for more Bathurst 12 Hour starts.
“I would do it again without a doubt. But I'd probably not do it in a GT4 car, it was hard work continuously looking in your mirrors, it makes it difficult to set a lap time,” he said.
“Even when there’s not a car behind you, you are checking your mirrors before you go into every single turn and that baulks you really.
“A lot of the guys were actually quite rough as well, there was a lot of bumping and rubbing racing that happened with us.
“Particularly across the top, if you stepped off line a little into the marbles, the rear end of our car would be going everywhere then you’d have the guys behind you come up and give you a bit of a nudge to push you a little wider.”
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Aside from enjoying having a hard-earned trophy in his possession, Schumacher also believes in the future he will be able to claim he once drove with a star.
He was impressed with the skills 16-year-old Love – the youngest driver in Sunday’s 12 Hour – and is predicting big things to come in his career.
“He doesn’t have a drivers’ licence ... but he just got in the car and went zero to hero in no time, he was straight up to speed in it,” Schumacher said.
"I was thoroughly impressed and I honestly believe he will be someone one day. I said to him 'One day when you are driving Supercars and are famous, if you don't say hello to me when I see you in the paddock I'm going to be pissed off'. He laughed and said that would never happen.”