Tim Slade is “very proud” to achieve 400 career race starts, with the milestone coming exactly 14 years after his Supercars debut.
Race 1 of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship at the Thrifty Newcastle 500 will be Slade’s 400th career start.
He will become the 21st driver to reach 400 race starts, and the first driver to start his 400th race in a season opener.
The South Australian-born driver is also the first driver to start his 400th race with a different team to his 399th start.
The Nulon Racing recruit debuted with Paul Morris Motorsport in 2009, having made no prior starts as a co-driver.
It was a baptism of fire — Slade had to wait five races until he greeted the chequered flag — but he has since carved out a long career.
In 14 seasons, Slade has recorded 184 round starts, two wins, two poles and 17 podiums.
Slade finished fifth overall with SBR in 2012
The most recent of his 17 podiums came in Newcastle in 2019, in what was his final start with Brad Jones Racing.
The BJR split loomed to bring an abrupt end to Slade's full-time career, and the Shell V-Power Racing Team paired him with Scott McLaughlin for Bathurst.
It led to a seat with the Blanchard family's CoolDrive Racing team, which Slade headed for 2021 and 2022.
Podiums proved elusive in the blue Mustang, but Slade demonstrated his smarts as one of the best racers on the grid as he gained over 100 positions in 2022 alone.
It was with BJR, however, that Slade won his two career races at Winton Motor Raceway, where he also grabbed his most recent pole.
The 2023 season comes after Slade’s wife Dani welcomed the couple’s second child, with PremiAir Racing based up the road from Gold Coast local Slade.
“The anticipation is certainly high ahead of the Newcastle 500,” the 37-year-old said.
Winton wins in 2016
“With it not only being the first event of the new season and this new Gen3 era, but also the first event for me personally with PremiAir Racing.
“For my first race with my new team to also be my 400th race start with Supercars overall is pretty cool, and I am certainly very proud to be able to mark this accomplishment this weekend.
“With the introduction of Gen3, it is a new playing field in so many ways for the entirety of the Supercars field, while the competitiveness and intensity within the category will be even further enhanced.
“The 2023 season is certainly going to be exciting, and I can’t wait to finally get it underway this weekend while I fly the colours for Nulon Racing in the #23.”
Slade’s 400th start will come in a PremiAir Racing-built, Nulon-backed Camaro at one of the most gruelling street circuits in Supercars.
However, Slade has form in Newcastle — along with his 2019 podium, Slate also raced to the podium from the midfield in the 2017 opener.
PremiAir Racing Team Principal Matt Cook cited the Gen3 era as a new dawn for the team, and was excited to help ring in Slade’s 400th start.
Newcastle podium in 2019
“This is certainly an exciting new era for Supercars with the new generation of cars, and we can’t wait to have them on track and racing this weekend finally,” Cook said.
"Practically nothing from the old generation of cars is transferable to the Gen3 cars, and up and down the pit lane, everyone is still learning.
“What can be guaranteed is that we are heading into a weekend of many unknowns, and I think we can expect some fascinating racing.
“We are super excited to finally sink our teeth into some racing after such an intense development and build program over the last few months.
“To do so with Nulon Racing on board for both of our cars makes it extra special, as does the fact that it will be Tim’s 400th Supercars race, which is quite an achievement!
“Wherever you are this weekend, I strongly recommend watching the racing as it unfolds because it will be fascinating indeed.”
Cars will hit the track at the Thrifty Newcastle 500 for three practice sessions on Friday.
Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.