Last man standing

Steven Bradbury

Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic Gold Medallist Steven Bradbury is the latest recruit to the MINI CHALLENGE Uber-Star ranks. The cult hero who proved the old adage ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ will be racing in Round 2 of the Australian MINI CHALLENGE to be held at Symmons Plains in Tasmania this weekend.

Bradbury, a keen Formula Vee competitor, is eagerly anticipating his latest high speed pursuit and sees a future for himself as a tin-top racer, “the twin scroll turbocharged MINI Challenge cars are really fast and I’m hoping to put the Uber Star car into it’s best ever placing,” he declares.

“I’d love to do well at Symmons and possibly even get a few more opportunities with MINI Challenge, it looks like a fantastic series and I’m very excited about being asked to drive the Uber Star car.”

Let’s hope Bradbury has better luck in Tasmania compared to three-time AFL premiership player Jason Akermanis!

Meanwhile, Paul Stokell is one driver hoping to recreate his success from Symmons Plains last year. Stokell was the Round 1 winner in his DecoRug machine and hopes to build on his early series lead, “we had a great weekend in Round One, everything went according to plan. I feel good coming into Round Two at Symmons Plains.”




Steven Bradbury

The ‘Ice-Man’ Burns to Turn the Wheel

Celebrated Australian Winter Olympic Gold Medallist Steven Bradbury is burning to get behind the wheel and make his MINI Challenge at Symmons Plains Raceway in Tasmania at the end of this month (May 29-31).

The man who became Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic Gold Medallist at the 2002 Games held in Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) has long harboured a desire to compete at an elite level in Motor Racing – a passion that was accelerated with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not long after he won gold.

“I went for a ride in the Minardi two-seater Formula One car at the Australian Grand Prix,” Bradbury recalls, “it’s pretty hard to get motor racing out of your mind with something like that in your memory bank, it was amazing.”

Bradbury returned to Melbourne the following year where he ironically competed in a MINI in the 2003 Australian F1GP celebrity challenge, where he finished second.

“I can’t say I’m thrilled that I finished second,” he remembers, “but the guy who beat me apparently had his own racetrack built in his backyard in Italy, that didn’t help my cause.”

Bradbury is naturally competitive and enjoys the adrenalin of anything involving speed.

“The twin scroll turbo charged MINI Challenge cars are really fast and I’m hoping to put the Uber Star car into it’s best ever placing,” he declares.

It’s not well known outside of Motorsport but Bradbury has been a proven racer in the Queensland Formula Vee (open wheel) ranks where he’s notched up around eight rounds to his credit.

“I’m not overly mechanical,” he admits, “I can’t tell you what to do with the car mechanically to make it faster, all I can do is drive it faster and let the mechanics do their work in the pits.”

Bradbury had big plans for Motor Racing this year, but with some of the effects of economic downturn coming into play the speedy Queenslander had to shelve plans to race V8 Utes.

Not surprisingly then, the chance to drive the “Uber Star” car in the second round of the 2009 MINI Challenge at Symmons Plains later this month was too good an opportunity to turn down.

“I can’t wait. I’ve never raced at Symmons Plains or paid too much attention to it before in terms of racing there but now I’m trying to find a Playstation game this week to learn a bit about the place. It’s a race against time to get as prepared as I can for the drive.”

Bradbury is doing his homework on the John Cooper Works “Uber Star” MINI he’ll drive already.

“I’ve heard that the cars are twin scroll turbocharged, they have phenomenal brakes and they handle brilliantly. I’m keen to get some testing in but it’s looking unlikely that we’ll get time before May 29. I really want to make a good impression.”

Indeed Bradbury sees Symmons Plains as a possible audition to bigger things.

“I’d love to do well at Symmons and possibly even get a few more opportunities with MINI Challenge, it looks like a fantastic series and I’m very excited about being asked to drive the Uber Star car.”

Indeed the Uber Star car concept is unique to MINI Challenge and offers high profile identities from other walks of life to take the wheel and race against the established stars already competing.

Last year’s Uber Star driver at Symmons Plains was PGA Golfing star Stuart Appleby and in rounds before him that seat was occupied by Rugby star Ben Tune, Mini legend Bob Holden, NASCAR star Boris Said, V8 Supercar star Jason Bargwanna and just last round AFL TV presenter John “Sammy” Newman.

Steven Bradbury is the latest high profile identity to take the Uber Star MINI Challenge and will get behind the wheel of his John Cooper Works MINI commencing Friday, May 29, 2009.

It’ll be very interesting to see how “the Ice-Man” handles the predicted wintry conditions at Symmons!

Paul Stokell

‘Cyclone’ Stokell to Touch Down at Symmons

This time last year Tassie Racecar supremo Paul Stokell swept all before him at the 2008 MINI Challenge event held at Symmons Plains Raceway.

His rivals barely got a look in as the Tassie born Queensland based advanced driving instructor took a complete sweep of the event in his Bill Gremos owned DecoRug sponsored John Cooper Works entry.

“A lot of people think that Symmons Plains is actually my home track but that’s not true,” admits Stokell, “I grew up racing at Baskerville and actually don’t have as many laps around Symmons as people think.”

Be that as it may, “Cyclone Stokell” caused widespread havoc and destruction in his MINI Challenge 2008 appearance and after another dominant performance at the first round of MINI Challenge 2009 (held at the Australian F1GP in Melbourne in March) that same storm looks to be a big threat in Tassie on May 29-31.

“We had a great weekend in Round One, everything went according to plan. I feel good coming into Round Two at Symmons Plains,” he concedes.

Stokell’s list of accomplishments in various forms of motor racing is breath taking.

Originally born in Bellerive in the Eastern suburbs of Hobart Stokell raced karts from age 14 where he won three State titles in the “Stock 100” class – it is now known as the “Reed” category.

In 1998 Stokell moved into Formula Vee and won both the State-wide Series and the Tasmanian Championships in 1989 in an interesting car to say the least.

Stokell takes up the story.

“I drove a 1967 Elfin Formula Vee that I rebuilt and maintained myself in the garage at home,” he recalls, “I nicknamed it The Flying Peanut due to it’s erm, attractive appearance.”

It might not have looked pretty but it sure did the job!

A year later the then young Stokell knew he’d have to broaden his horizons and leave the Apple Isle to give this motor racing thing a serious shake.

“I left in 1990 to race the full national Formula Ford Driver to Europe Series and lived with relatives in Bankstown (Sydney) where I worked as a Diesel Fitter at Caterpillar. That was the start of the national stuff I guess.”

Now, Five Australian Championships later Stokell is based in Wellington Point Queensland and is revered as one of the most versatile drivers in the country having steered a staggering array of different marques and models.

Next weekend he returns to Tasmania in his Bill Gremos owned DecoRug John Cooper Works MINI Challenge car with a strong points lead in the 2009 Series so far.

All of Paul’s family still live in and around Hobart so it’s expected a strong support group will show up to cheer on the #27 as Stokell attempts to make it two round wins from two in the competitive MINI Challenge schedule.

Paul Stokell and his DecoRug team mate Grant Denyer will compete at Symmons Plains Raceway between May 29 and May 31.

The 2009 MINI Challenge proudly acknowledges 50 YEARS OF FUN MOTORING in Australia for MINI.

2009 MINI CHALLENGE calendar