Saturday Sleuthing: Under Sandman's skin

  • 13/12/2014
  • By V8 Sleuth
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

As V8 Supercar race fans and teams alike made the trek to October's Castrol EDGEGold Coast 600, Red Bull Racing Australia caught everyone off guard with the unveiling of the eye-catching Tribute Edition Sandman ride car.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Holden Sandman, Triple Eight Race Engineering worked in secret for six months to complete the beast - complete with carbon fibre surfboards! - to pay homage to the car's history as Australia's popular beach lifestyle vehicle.

It made plenty of headlines and occasionally it was referred to as having a race-winning pedigree as a former race car.

But which racer was it from the Red Bull Racing Australia fleet? What did it achieve in its time on the track and who steered it?

Today on Saturday Sleuthing we go 'beneath the skin of Sandman' to fill you in on what this chassis was before it became the silver rocket.

Truth be told, it actually ended up having a very, very short racing life of just over half a season, but it was a half-season that set up an historic championship victory.

The chassis beneath this impressive new machine actually started its life as 888A-032, the third 'Car of the Future' chassis constructed by Triple Eight but the first to be a Red Bull Racing Australia car. The first chassis - 030 - was the Triple Eight team's prototype that broke cover testing in 2012 and later became the XBOX wildcard entry at Bathurst last year, while the second car - 031 - headed to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport and was driven by Dean Fiore. 032 became Jamie Whincup's #1 Red Bull Racing Australia Commodore VF in 2013 and was built as part of a batch of the new generation of cars by Triple Eight with crew from LDM and Tekno Autosports involved in building the batch of chassis.

Whincup gave 032 a shakedown at Queensland Raceway in mid-February last year before it took part in the Sydney Motorsport Park test day and made its racing debut at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.

It took until Pukekohe in New Zealand for Whincup to break through for a race win for his new car but then he went on a roll, claiming five race wins from seven starts across Barbagallo, the championship's inaugural appearance at the Circuit of The Americas in the United States and Hidden Valley in Darwin.

The reigning champion would win another race at Queensland Raceway to make it a total of eight race wins and quickly give the new car a winning pedigree all of its own.

As it would turn out, only Whincup ever raced this particular car. His endurance co-driver Paul Dumbrell had a taste of it during the co-driver practice session in Townsville - his first drive of a V8 Supercar since winning Bathurst in October 2012 - but no one other than J-Dub steered 032 in a race.

Whincup ended up having his last start in the chassis at Winton in 2013, leading the Saturday 60/60 Super Sprint race before driveline failure took him out.

He was given a new chassis for the Sandown 500 - which won on debut - and this car, which had been marred by a persistent vibration during a pre-event test, was retired from racing duties and deregistered with V8 Supercars. But it proved to play a crucial part in setting up Whincup's fifth championship victory, which allowed him to join Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife in the 'five-time' club.

He raced 032 for nine rounds and 27 races (as well as the non-championship Albert Park event) and it had helped put him 55 points in front of Will Davison come the end of Winton when it was withdrawn from active racing service.

With 15 podium finishes and 11 pole positions from 27 championship races, it was a car that did its fair share of work as the team worked to learn about the new generation of V8 Supercar racers and their unique characteristics.

The team retained it and work began on converting it into the Sandman 'panel van' in April of this year. It features an F1-inspired fly-by-wire throttle system and six-speed paddle-shift gearbox, meaning that this former V8 Supercar racer has some technology within her these days that she most certainly didn't have in 2013!

Future plans include for Sandman to feature a larger 5.7-litre engine that will punch out over 700 horsepower and make for an impressive ride for anyone lucky enough to climb aboard!

So for anyone lucky enough to score a ride aboard the Sandman Tribute Edition, just remember that although you won't be in a V8 Supercar race, you'll be aboard a chariot that knows what it takes to win one.

Well, eight actually!

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Saturday Sleuthing returns next week for the final edition of 2014 where we'll focus on a car that featured in one of the biggest accidents in V8 Supercar history.

If you have a suggestion for a car story, some information or want to give some feedback, contact the V8 Sleuth via the following methods:

Email: aaron@v8sleuth.com.au
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To visit the V8 Sleuth's website: www.v8sleuth.com.au

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