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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Clarke

I was the only Aussie journo there

In case anyone needs to know, I was the only Australian journalist on the ground for Shane van Gisbergen's monumental win on the streets of Chicago. I can talk stats - first winner on debut since 1963, sixth race winner not born in the US, etc - and I can talk about the media conferences like everyone else. But I can also give you more. 

I was excited by the idea of the Chicago Street Race, so I got on a plane. I've met some amazing people on this trip who will be friends for a very long time - Kevin Lee is just one. 

I'm an old-school journalist, I don't believe in sitting in the media centre and waiting for social media to give me a story, I want to work it all out for myself. 

It is why I spoke with Matt Herman from Enhance Health on Saturday, and why he sought me out on Sunday to tell me he wants to run SVG more in 2024. Matt told me on Saturday he is a winner and he wasn't there for anything else, and pre-race on Sunday he was justifiably confident and excited. By Monday morning his company was on the front page of newspapers all over the USA. 

He's an entrepreneur that wanted to back Trackhouse Entertainment Group Racing which he sees as a disrupter of NASCAR just as he is a disrupter in health insurance. Tracckhouse in just its third season is emerging as a powerhouse of NASCAR, and Enhance Health is the largest health insurer in the USA. This is a powerful partnership with massive potential.  

We'll have plenty of coverage in this next issue of Auto Action and the one after about the significance of the win, and also of the Chicago Street Race which battled some of the worst weather I can remember at a race track to deliver a fairytale win and change NASCAR forever at the same time. It was such a good event it even started converting its Chicago-based critics. I met the bloke who hatched the plan for this 10 years ago. 

I have plenty more to tell you about my US adventure, so stay tuned and remember, I was the only one there. I can't always report on everything I am told, but often it frames what I can say. 

This has been a great adventure. I've loved seeing this Shane van Gisbergen, he made me proud to be here and I can't ever remember being so excited and engaged in a race win. I have always appreciated him as a race driver and believe he is one of the best in the world - and he proved that - and now I think I have seen a little insight into what people like Mark Dutton have been telling me for years, that we don't see in the Australian media. 

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