Jamie Whincup talks tech and cars

Last year Jamie Whincup not only won the Bathurst 1000, but he was also crowned V8 Supercar champion for the first time. We sat down with him after yesterday's launch of the Norton 360 v3 and Symantec's announcement of its sponsorship deal for the Sandown V8 Supercar race.

Last year Jamie Whincup not only won the Bathurst 1000 with his Triple Eight Racing team-mate, Craig Lowndes, but he was also crowned V8 Supercar champion for the first time. We sat down with him after yesterday's launch of the Norton 360 v3 and Symantec's announcement of its sponsorship deal for the Sandown V8 Supercar race.

(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

What's your favourite piece of technology?

Jamie Whincup: Without doubt my Nokia E71 mobile phone — it saves minutes here and there, and makes life so much easier.

What would you say is your least favourite piece of technology then?

That's a tough one ... probably digital speed cameras. The old analog ones were OK because there was a 50 per cent chance that it was going to be out of film, but with the digital ones you're in big trouble.

What was the first tech gadget that you remember playing with?

That would have to be my Atari. My first game was Frogger, but then I got into Pac Man and then California Games. Honestly though what a fantastic console, you could just rip a game out, smash another one in and it would automatically start, without any loading up [time]. Perfect.

Are you an Apple or a Windows type of person?

I grew up with Apples, but I'm on Windows now.

Do you have a favourite website or one that you frequent a lot?

My own, actually, jamiewhincup.com.au. I spend most of my computer time filling my fans in on what I'm up to.

Do you have talkback or forums on your site?

Yeah, we've got forums there. There's also media releases, current photos, blogs, current standings and current V8 Supercars info. We're also adding a shop to the site too.

What gave you the idea to have a personal website?

It's the easiest way to interact with my fans. I'm not sure if it's most cost effective way though — it's quite expensive to run my website, but it's a great way of communicating with my fans, letting them know exactly what I'm up to.

Do you actually interact directly with your fans via the forums?

Yes, I'm there several times a week. And the site's being constantly updated with blogs and info, so they know what my team and myself are up to. And for them, it's the best way to communicate with me.

What's the best thing that someone has said to you on your website?

"Thanks for starting the site." As I said, it costs me a lot of money [to run] and I dedicate a lot of time to it purely for the enjoyment of the fans. This way they can interact with me and share my experience — I've got a very fun and unique job, and I want to share it with as many people as I can. When I see that they appreciate that, that's the reward I need to continue.

Have you ever had any nasty feedback on your site?

Yes, of course. Some people lose sight of the big picture and ask what else I'm going to do for my fans — so I take that a bit personally because I think I go beyond and above the call of duty.

Do you Facebook or Twitter at all?

Although I've got fingers in a lot of pies, I'm not a huge facebooker, myspacer or twitterer. I rarely engage in online chat, unless it's on my website.

What's the most perplexing piece of technology that younger people get that you don't quite comprehend?

Being only 26, I'm not old enough to be at that stage yet. I love my gadgets. So anything newer, quicker, faster or smaller I have to get it.

What's the last piece of tech that you read about that you just had to get on the first day it was out?

The iPod Touch. Although that's been out for a while now...

Still use it?

Yep, almost every day. The quicker we can get rid of CDs the better. At home, in my car or anywhere I go, I just plug my iPod into an auxiliary jack and I've got every song, video or photo I could ever need.

Do you download many apps from the App Store?

Definitely. I love the simple games, like solitaire, blackjack and poker. I also love the apps, such as calculators, as well as currency and measurement converters. I'm a bit of a numbers man; I have to calculate everything.

What piece of car tech could you not live without in a road car?

The stereo. Although it's not the most important [part], it's the one I couldn't live without. The other item I couldn't live without is cruise control.

So then, what, in your opinion, is the best piece of car technology on the race track?

My electronic drink bottle button — I just push a button on the dash and a little straw tucked into the helmet feeds drink straight into my mouth.

Is it water or a sports drink?

I've got 50 per cent water and 50 per cent Gatorade. Just make sure you don't push the wrong button though. Once, I was pulling into pit lane and instead of pushing the pit lane button, I pressed the drink button and nearly choked myself.

How long have you guys had the drink feeder for?

It's pretty new, so maybe 12 months or so. It basically uses a windscreen washer motor, which instead of acting on washer fluid bottle, works on a drink bottle instead.

They should put that system in road cars!

Actually, it's quite hard work maintaining the system because you have to put a new fluid line in after every race, otherwise it'll go all mouldy. Plus you have to wash out the bottle too.

What's the best thing about racing car technology?

The fact that it's actually saved lives on the road, with things like anti-lock braking, crumple zones, electronic stability control and airbags. Formula One was a big developer of technology that's trickled down into road cars and, ultimately, saved lives.

So, what's the worst thing that technology has done for racing?

We [racing drivers] have no secrets any more. Any mistakes we make in the car, such as over-revving the engine or locking the brakes, are all recorded and we get in trouble for it later. Sometimes we wish it wasn't there and we could get away with our mistakes.

Finally, if you had a million dollars and could only buy one car, which one would it be?

It'd be the McLaren F1. Definitely. It's the bee's knees of road cars.

Have you ever driven one before?

No, I've never actually ever seen one [in real life]. I've been able to drive almost everything — Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, etc — but not the McLaren F1, which is probably why I'd choose it.

Thanks for your time.

Derek Fung flew to Melbourne as a guest of Symantec.

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