Inside Waters, Brown's NASCAR preparations

06 Jun
It has been a big week for Cam Waters and Will Brown as they get ready for their NASCAR Cup Series debuts
6 mins by James Pavey

It has been a big week for Supercars stars Cam Waters and Will Brown as they get ready for their NASCAR Cup Series debuts.

So, what have they been up to as this weekend's Sonoma action gets ever closer?

The two drivers' efforts will be backed by Supercars, with Brown first and Waters fourth in the standings heading to the upcoming round in Darwin. International viewers can follow all the Supercars action next week on Superview.

At Sonoma, Brown will race a MobileX-backed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, while Waters will steer RFK Racing's Stage 60 Ford Mustang, complete with BuildSubmarines.com and AUKUS colours.

Supercars.com breaks down their big weeks since arriving in the United States, which have included crucial practice, and the "American experience."

The workshop

Both drivers touched down earlier this week and reacquainted themselves with their respective teams, Brown completing a 35-hour transit after racing at The Bend last weekend. Before Perth, Brown dashed over to the States with catch up with RCR, while Waters spent time at RFK as he competed in the Truck Series.

RCR is based in Welcome, North Carolina, with RFK's headquarters 70 kilometres south in Concord, which is near Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Both drivers had previously sat in Cup machinery, completing seat fits. However, this week has seen Waters and Brown get into their respective #60 Ford Mustang and #33 Chevrolet Camaro, complete with wrapped liveries and their names on the cars.

Sit fits aside, being in the workshop helps the drivers dive into the finer details of driver comfort, from pedal sizing to seat position. Don't forget, these are left-hand drive cars, so while Cup cars have sequential gearboxes like Supercars, drivers change gears with their right hands.

Teams also provide opportunities for drivers to fine-tune their skills away from the car. Notably, RFK has also published vision of Waters completing a reaction time test using a light board, which measures reaction time, hand-eye quickness and coordination.

Pit stops

Both drivers have completed pit stop practice, which is important given how different stops are in NASCAR versus Supercars.

Where Supercars are lifted by air jacks, NASCARs are lifted by a sole jack man. NASCAR pit crews are only allowed five people over the wall: front tyre changer, rear tyre changer, tyre carrier, gas man and the jack man.

Pit road speed at Sonoma is 40 mph (64.4 km/h), which is nearly 25 km/h than pit lane speed limits in Supercars, something both drivers have picked up on.

“We did a bit of pit stop practice today, which was cool," Waters told Supercars.com.

"Just coming in quick and seeing the guys run out in front of the car and pulling up, and releasing and all that stuff, which is just a little bit different to what we do back home."

Brown added: “I drove the pit stop car which was cool, which is important because it’s so different to what we do in Australia.

“With the guys running in front of you, I’m a bit nervous about not making a mistake in the pits. Driving the car is one thing, but I feel like all the procedure stuff will be the next.”



Because both drivers don’t get laps in their cars until Friday practice, simulator laps have proven crucial. Both drivers had sim time in previous visits to their respective workshops, with Waters and Brown both getting two sessions each this week.

Brown steered RCR’s sim before getting a crack at the Driver-in-the-Loop simulator at the GM Tech Center. Brown was joined at the Tech Center by recent first-time Xfinity Series race winner and three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen, who will be the Queenslander's spotter for the race.

That particular sim, according to GM, is "as close as drivers can get to racing without actually strapping in." In Driver-in-the-Loop sims, tracks are scanned to a very high resolution and feature all visual elements, from individual bumps to unique surface chances. They also offer the motion and G-forces a driver would experience at speed.

Before heading Stateside, Waters has also benefited from Thomas Randle’s Dream Simulation set-up, and with his sim efforts coming with support from RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.

Waters has also spent time with experienced driver Joey Hand, who recently drove Ford’s Wheel Force NASCAR at Sonoma. 'Wheel Force’ cars are named because they are test mules, which measure wheel forces in real time, through sensors on each corner

“The first day that we got in on the Monday, I spent four hours in the sim, which was great,” Waters told Supercars.com.

"I've got another sim session today. It's a two hour session and I'm sharing it with Brad and also got Joey Hand there to help out. He drove the Wheel Force car for Ford at Sonoma, which will be good to chat to him about what he thought about it all."

Content and media

Because both drivers are new faces in the Cup Series, they require headshots in team gear and their new suits, which have been captured at their respective team bases.

Media is also a key part of the week, as Waters and Brown are presented to new audiences, while also creating their own content to publish across their own channels and entertain existing fans.

Brown's team has published a vlog from his opening days in the States, with Waters' journey captured through humorous social clips.

"To come over here to do a road course and to drive a car that makes a lot more sense to me and is a lot closer to what I raced back home, is a bonus, to be honest," Waters explained during a media availability on Tuesday.

"Stepping up into Cup, the level of competition is going to be way harder as well... the truck stuff was awesome. Absolutely had a ball. The challenge of learning a new car and you know, doing ovals as well. I think there's probably a little bit less of an undertaking this weekend, but it's going to be tougher at the same time."

Getting the "American experience"

Both drivers have still managed to get some downtime before their big weekends, ensuring they make the most of their Stateside experience.

Brown celebrated his 26th birthday with a dinner on Wednesday, and was joined by Waters, van Gisbergen, Jessica Dane and Andrew Edwards, Brown's current Triple Eight engineer and formerly van Gisbergen's right-hand man.

Brown also visited Childress' personal vineyard, while Waters headed over to a local firing range, an excursion chronicled in a funny social video. Then, there are the big American meals, which have been keeping the drivers well-fed.

"The American experience has been pretty cool. Went to the shooting range, shot some handguns," Waters told Supercars.com.

"We've had the full American experience with food. We just had a Cracker Barrel breakfast, which I can't move from. People just gave me one of everything."

Waters and Brown will hit the track at Sonoma for a single practice session on Friday (7:00am AEST Saturday) followed by Qualifying on Saturday (8:00am AEST Sunday).

This weekend's race, the Toyota/Save Mart 350, will kick off at 12:30pm local time Sunday/5:30am AEST on Monday, and will be broadcast live in Australia on Foxtel and Kayo.

Waters and Brown will return to Australia after their Sonoma cameos for Round 5 of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship in Darwin. The betr Darwin Triple Crown will be held on June 14-16. Tickets for the event are on sale now.

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