Olympic Gold Medal winning American swimmer Tyler Clary tested a V8 Supercar at the V8 Supercars Official Driving Experience on Australia's Gold Coast today as part of his development towards a serious motorsport career.
Clary has been on the Gold Coast for the last two weeks competing at the Hancock Prospecting Pan-Pacific Championships where he won his Olympic Gold Medal event - the 200m backstroke - and added a silver and bronze medal to his Pan-Pacs haul.
Despite having never driven a right hand drive car before today, Clary showed impressive speed around the 2.1km circuit at Norwell, which doubles as the V8 Supercars Official Driving Experience and the Performance Driving Centre.
"A couple of times there I reached for the gear shift with my right hand and banged the door," Clary laughed. "The V8 Supercar is a lot bigger and heavier than what I'm used to driving too. I'm happy with the times I layed down for my first opportunity in this type of car."
Clary - based in the home of NASCAR, Charlotte, North Carolina - set the pole position time for the Celebrity Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and has tested at the world-renowned Skip Barber Racing School.
He has some further testing and races coming up at the end of 2014 and after the Rio Olympics, the 25-year-old intends on stepping behind the wheel of a racecar as a secondary sporting career - and he might just wind up in an Australian V8 Supercar.
"I would love to come down to Australia and try to make a career of V8 Supercars," said Clary. "I aim to be in a position to race for a living - we're putting a few things together in the States at the moment, but I'd be very keen to look at racing in Australia on a regular basis if we could make that happen."
The American is an avid viewer of the Championship, which raced in the States in 2013 at the Circuit of the Americas.
"I watch V8 Supercars whenever I can, either on the stream or the television replays, it is an exciting form of racing, it's loud and very popular among the fans.
"Since being in Australia I've seen V8 Supercars posters, flags and merchandise just about everywhere I've been - it's a big deal."
Putting Clary through his paces at the V8 Supercars Official Driving Experience was Dunlop Series front-runner, Andre Heimgartner. The young Kiwi will make his Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 debut in October for Super Black Racing.
"Tyler was impressive, he was quickly up to pace and knows how to handle a racecar," said Heimgartner. "If he wanted to try and make a career in V8 Supercars I think he could."
It was a different experience for Heimgartner too, having an Olympic Gold Medallist alongside him.
"It's definitely a cool experience to meet someone from another elite sport and get the chance to talk about their preparation and how they go about things.
"I think he's a better racecar driver than I am swimmer though!"
Away from racing in the pool and on the track, Clary is a Computer Science Major and a DJ, having performed in clubs in London, Glasgow and Los Angeles. He's been a Grand Marshal for an IndyCar race and a Celebrity VIP Host at WWE Summerslam.
The test by Clary starts off a big two months for V8 Supercars, with the PIRTEK Enduro Cup beginning in three weeks' time with the Wilson Security Sandown 500.
The V8 Supercars Official Driving Experience is the only officially-endorsed V8 Supecars Driving Experience in the world.
V8 Supercars fans get the chance to Drive in a V8 Supercar just like their heroes, Ride alongside one of the instructors or Race in a group scenario.
The facility doubles as Queensland's leading driver training facility, the Performance Driving Centre.