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Hot lap with Todd Kelly

He drops just one gear and only seems to dab the brakes before aiming the missile for the apex.

I'm strapped into the passenger seat of a V8 Supercar alongside Todd Kelly for a lap of Queensland Raceway.

In the pits, I'm cool and calm. After all, I've piloted race cars, street cars and motorbikes in tests and red-fisted racing rage around the Ipswich “paperclip” track before, so I know what to expect.

Sitting on the starting line with your left foot riding the clutch and shaking like a dog on a toilet stop is the most nervous I've ever been. But right now, I'm fine. 

I chat calmly with Todd and we exchange pleasantries. He heads out of the pits with the limiter on and it's rock-band noisy and mosh-pit hot, but still nothing to be concerned about.

Then he hits the limiter button and starts to accelerate out of the pits. Still nothing. I've driven cars and bikes with a lot more power and acceleration, so I'm not the least bit alarmed. 

But when he turns toward turn one and is still on the gas, I start regretting not making my own pit stop first.

Even though he's not taking the turn at full tilt because he's only had a short run-up from the pits, the G forces are enormous. As he exits the turn, the car skates toward the outside ripple strip and the beach on the other side.

I think I may have just spoiled the Kelly Racing Team's loaned race suit a little. He's still accelerating as we head for turn two and hasn't had his foot anywhere near the brake yet. Then he hits it. If you think the acceleration force is huge, the braking force is greater. Unlike you and me, race drivers don't touch the brakes, they hammer them.

One V8 driver I rode with a few years ago even used two feet to hit the brake pedal. Todd slams the brake and brutally turns the car into the corner. Then he does an alarming thing...he lets the brake go. That's way too early, I'm thinking. The car is fighting grip, biting, then slipping, biting, then slipping...all the way out to that lethal ripple strip again.

We're less than a third of the way through the lap and my racing suit is copping some punishment. Now for the long back straight. V8 Supercars hit about 250km/h here. It's one of the three fastest straights in Australia.

That's fine, but it's the braking markers that are worrying me. The 200m mark comes and goes and Todd seems to have missed it. The sand and concrete wall beyond seem to be looming at a great rate of knots and I have target fixation on the advertising sign on the wall.

Again Todd pounds the brakes and whips the steering wheel into the corner. But he holds the brake all the way into the middle of the corner and slows the car to a sedate pace. I'm surprised, relieved and actually take my first breath.

However, it's short-lived relief as he turns the car toward the exit and slams the throttle to 100 per cent. The infamous paperclip circuit is straight, turn right, straight, turn right, straight, two short left turns, straight, turn right, straight and then repeat.

It's a series of drag races with turns on the end, so all the straights are fast and all the turns are brutal. The complex two lefts at turns four and five are the only time the right tyres get a chance to grip. As Todd turns in, the car doesn't want to follow and it understeers straight ahead.

We're heading for some off-roading, but somehow Todd flicks the back around and slides it sideways into the second left, using all the width of the road on exit and heads down toward the final turn. I take my second breath before all the breath is knocked out of me with the brutal brake and steering application in turn six.

Again we seem to slow to walking pace before he fires it out of the turn and up the straight. That's one lap down and only one more to go, so I figure I've survived the experience and there is nothing left to concern me. But I've forgotten that this time he is approaching turn one with a longer run-up.

He drops just one gear and only seems to dab the brakes before aiming the missile for the apex. Hang on...he's got this wrong. He's had a lapse of concentration and has miscalculated his entry speed. We're going to crash, we're going to hit the sand trap and then roll and cartwheel into the concrete barrier with all sorts of noise and pain and I'll never see my lovely wife and daughters again.

The car squirms, it fights, it twitches, it slides, but mainly it screams in mechanical agony, yet somehow it gets through the corner and stays on the black stuff. I think I blacked out and missed the rest of the lap because the next thing Todd presses the limiter button and we're burping, farting and crackling down pit lane.

I feign bravado and calmly shake Todd's hand, turn the buckle on the five-point harness, exit the car faster than Usain Bolt leaves the starting blocks and head straight to the toilets without even taking off my helmet. I've learnt a lot about cornering lines, late brake application and gear selection from the drive with Todd, but mainly I've learnt to take a pit stop before leaving the pits.