IRWIN Racing Team 18 driver Mark Winterbottom took part in a tour of central Queensland to the Rolleston Open Cut Mine site prior to the Sandown SuperSprint in August, including a visit with local school children.

In partnership with major Team 18 partner Fuchs Lubricants and long-time customer Glencore Coal, Winterbottom embarked on a 3,600km round trip from the team’s Melbourne base to Glencore’s Rolleston mine, located 140 km southeast of Emerald, in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

The 2013 Bathurst winner and 2015 Supercars champion was accompanied by Anthony Ficarra (FUCHS Channel Marketing Manager), Robert Fryer (FUCHS AISEA Mining Division GM) and Steve Joy (FUCHS Glencore Account Manager) on a visit to the Glencore mine and Springsure State School.

“We rolled onto site after a couple of plane trips to get there. The flight from Brisbane to Emerald was full of mine workers, I was probably the only one without a high-vis shirt so we stood out quite a bit!” Winterbottom explained.

“We landed, drove in, signed on at the gate and everyone was buzzing that we were there which was a really cool feeling, there were people wanting to stop and take photos before we even got through the gate.

“We were given our own cabin which was a pretty impressive setup, so we lived like they did on site for the night, ate with all the staff and trained with them. It was cool to see from their perspective what they do every day and live like they do for their seven days on site.”

Whilst onsite, Winterbottom and the Fuchs team got to witness first-hand the incredible machinery that rely on Fuchs lubricants to extract tonnes of thermal coal each year, including a dragline with a bucket capable of shifting over 200 tonnes of overburn in a single scoop.

“Coal is what’s driving the country and at the moment it’s booming more than ever, so for them to shut a drag line down for 30 minutes for us to get a walkthrough and capture the moment was a very rare experience and a huge sign of respect for us being there.

“The magnitude of the operation was incredible and the way Fuchs looked after us was second-to-none, they make sure you fit their values and it was amazing to see how they look after their customers through these sort of programs. The people at Glencore couldn’t be friendly enough and they treated us as one of their own.”

Following a day of learning on the job, Winterbottom starred at a dinner and meet and greet with Glencore staff, discussing some great moments from his Supercars career and signing a range of posters and memorabilia to Supercars fans who work at the mine.

Some lucky Glencore employees also won tickets to see Winterbottom and the Fuchs-sponsored #18 IRWIN Racing Team 18 Holden ZB Commodore in action at the Gold Coast 500 this October.

“It’s amazing how our sport is truly national, whether it’s country towns that are hours away from a track, they still watch Bathurst, they knew exactly who we were, the races we’ve been to and you don’t quite realise the reach of the sport until you go to these regional areas and see how engaged and knowledgeable they were.”

The final stop on the visit was the Springsure State School, where local children from surrounding schools got to ask questions to Winterbottom, check out the IRWIN Racing show car and receive gifts from the team.

“The Springsure school visit was great fun and it was fantastic to see how Glencore support their local communities through the schools and towns surrounding the mine. It was great to check out their engineering shed where they build their own pedal cars for competition, for a small school they had a lot of knowledge!

“The kids were really engaged. We were asked lots of questions, showed off the show car, and these towns wouldn’t have seen a Supercar driver or race car before given they live so far away from the race track, so it was really enjoyable to see their reaction to us being there.”

Fuchs Channel Marketing Manager, Anthony Ficarra, said the trip was a great success to engage with engage with the staff and students in regional Queensland.

“The reception ‘Frosty’ received from the staff at the site and the local school was incredible, to see their interest and engagement spoke volumes for how far the sport reaches across the country.

“Mining and motorsport share so many synergies, from working on complex machinery at the forefront of technological advancement and working together in a high-performance team to achieve continued success, it’s a fitting partnership that we’re proud to facilitate to bring value back to our organisation and our partners.

“Overall, the trip was a huge success for all involved and was a great way to leverage our partnership between Fuchs Lubricants and Team 18.”

Winterbottom sits 12th in the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship with four events remaining, following results of eighth, 12th and fifth at the Sandown SuperSprint.

Winterbottom and the #18 IRWIN Racing Team 18 Supercar is next in action in New Zealand for the Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Raceway on 9-11 September.