V8 ute racer Gerard ‘Maverick’ McLeod warms up his racing preparation with a real life top gun pilot.
McLeod is a Top Gun fan (even his nickname is Top Gun-inspired) and jumped at the opportunity to take a joy ride with former Red Bull Air World Championship pilot Matt Hall, ahead of his final round of the 2013 Auto One V8 Ute Racing Series.
He says it was on his bucket list and was the most unreal thing he has ever done.
“I really didn’t know what to expect before I jumped aboard,” says McLeod. “But knowing Matt Hall’s outstanding international credentials, put my nerves to rest… a little anyway.”
Hall reached 400km/hr at one stage, with a max G Force of 9.5 and says McLeod enjoyed being shown air show manoeuvres and Red Bull race simulations.
He joke that McLeod will do well in his motorsport career as long as he stays away from planes, as he did really well – but only as a passenger.
“We talked about the utes and how it’s quite challenging due to the handling of the cars and the setups, but it sounds like he has his head in the right place and the transition to V8 Supercars is just around the corner for him – he should really stick to cars,” Hall says with a laugh.
While McLeod was blown away with the manoeuvres and speed of the plane, he says he also has a new appreciation for the breathing techniques and the high altitudes the pilots have to deal with.
“The effect that the excessive cornering g-forces have on your body is very full on. It feels like you’re being turned inside out and your cheeks feel like they are going to be ripped off your face.
“It makes what we do on the race circuit seem so one dimensional… what these planes are capable of is utterly insane and I have a new-found respect for stunt pilots,” he says.
McLeod will hit the V8 track next week between 6 to 8 December to close his 2013 V8 Ute Campaign as part of the Sydney 500.