Lee Holdsworth is a man of speed and accuracy. He has been behind a wheel since the age of seven when he began racing go-karts. Fast forward to age 17 and Lee was already racing in the Commodore Cup, an impressive feat for someone still on their P plates. In 2006, Lee turned his passion for driving into a career when he scored a full-time position with Garry Rogers Motorsport driving in the Supercars Championship. The following year Lee won his first Supercar round at Oran Park.
2016 marked Holdsworth’s 11th year racing Supercars where the 33 year old drove the #18 VF Commodore for Preston Hire Racing. Earlier this season during the Triple Crown in Darwin, Holdsworth suffered several injuries from a collision leaving him with a fracture in his right knee, two fractured ribs and a fractured pelvis. Thankfully there were no permanent injuries, and he quickly overcame this challenge to return for the Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.
Holdsworth is one of the fastest drivers on the track. Pulsar, the designer of quality timepieces, recognised the potential of Lee and the Preston Hire Racing team, and signed on as one of their key sponsors. This partnership sees Pulsar branding front and centre on the Supercar and Holdsworth, with the entire team fitted with the latest Pulsar chronographs. It’s the perfect partnership because everyone from the pit crew through to Holdsworth understands that every second is a new challenge.
We sat down with Lee to find out where he finds his need for speed:
Racing is both physically and mentally demanding, how do you usually prep your body and mind before a race?
Everyone has a different approach with their pre-race preparation. In the lead up to an event I like to know my fitness is in peak form which helps my mental preparation too. In the hours prior to the race though, we are smashed with sponsor commitments and appearances so it’s important for me to wind down and start focusing on the job at least 30 mins before strapping on the helmet. Usually I’ll go see my physio for a massage and listen to some music in the transporter.
What sort of fitness regime is required for a driver in the Supercars Championship?
It’s important to be both mentally and physically prepared to endure the conditions we experience in the car. My training involves high intensity workouts working in the higher end of my heart rate (150-190 BPM) to simulate the same sort of BPM as in a race. Usually starting off with a weights session, followed by a run, swim or bike ride.
What’s going through your mind while you’re racing? Does it ever wander?
So much is going through your mind when your on track, mostly subconscious thoughts like brake markers, when to change gears, your turn in points, hitting your apex’s, etc. but then there are also conscious thoughts such as deciding when to make a pass, giving your engineer feedback on the car balance, making adjustments to the brake bias or roll bars, etc. There’s so much to think about when you’re racing that you can’t afford for your mind to wonder. A small lapse in concentration can have big consequences.
How do you combat mental fatigue during endurance races like the Bathurst 1,000?
The Bathurst 1000 is known as one of the toughest racing events in the world. To push 100% every lap without making a mistake which can be mentally draining. Doing this for 6 hours would be impossible if you didn’t allow yourself to have small breaks. These breaks are often referred to as micro breaks and we have them on short straights where concentration doesn’t have to be so intense. It gives your brain a chance to reset before the next sequence of corners.
What’s been your proudest moment on the track so far?
My proudest moment on track would probably be winning the first race for Mercedes Benz in the Supercars Championship in 2014. It had been a very difficult development period for the team so to bring home the winning trophy was such a cool way to reward everyone for their hard work.
Obviously, accuracy and timing are incredibly important, how difficult is it to measure your performance as you’re racing and learn from it on the fly?
You always know whether you got the most out of your own performance and generally you feel you may have left a few hundredths of a second on the table. It’s really important to be able to measure your own performance every lap of every race so you can do a better job of it the following lap or race.
What is it about Pulsar’s new limited edition chronograph range that makes it fit so well with racing?
Well the watch takes direct inspiration from the motorsport world; from the piston shaped crown and carbon fibre dial to the Supercars logos on the clasp, case back and dial, right down to the racing helmet box. The watch also features a chronograph built for the accuracy and precision of motorsport.
You started racing in the Commodore Cup at age 17. What advice do you have for young people hoping to race professionally?
Never lose sight of your dream and be prepared to sacrifice. Pick up small sponsorships through go-karting or the lower ranks of car racing and try to build relationships with those sponsors so they develop into something bigger. You will need them to support you on the journey if you want to make it as a professional driver.
Earlier this season you suffered some quite serious injuries that left you wheelchair bound for a while although you stated that the crash left you without any mental scars. How do you go about returning to the track after from a crash like that?
I guess I’ve always been aware of the dangers that racing imposes, so to me it was just something that was inevitable at some point in my career, especially after so many years without sustaining any injuries. It’s definitely not something that has left a mental scar for me, just a physical one!
Is it difficult to return to normal road rules after an endurance race?
I often get asked this question and to be honest the answer is no. I’m in a completely different mindset when in a road car. When the helmet goes on that’s when I switch into my racing mindset.
And finally, once the season is over, how will you spend your down time?
I spend a lot of time away from home throughout the year so the xmas period is a time to kick back, eat what I want, drink what I want, and spend time with family and friends. I’ve got a 4 year old daughter and expecting a little boy in the coming days so it’s exciting times in the Holdsworth household.