When Tim Slade rolls out at Sandown Park next week they could be playing the Bridal Chorus for the first appearance of his CoolDrive Mustang.
It’s a case of ’something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’ for the car that is replacing the Mustang that was almost destroyed in a giant crash at Mount Panorama late last month.
The original CoolDrive plan was to race all year with the car that Will Davison had hustled so impressively for Phil Munday under the 23RED banner, but that was before The Big One at Bathurst.
Repair work on the original Mustang is going to take many weeks and so team boss Tim Blanchard pivoted to prepare the second of Munday’s Mustangs, probably the oldest Gen 2 car in Supercars, to fill the gap.
It’s an inconvenience for the crew but Blanchard believes Slade could be driving a car that’s even better than the Bathurst original at the team’s home race at Sandown.
“Internally we’re quite confident that we’ll have a car that’s in better condition than we did at Bathurst. But we’ll have to wait and see,” Blanchard told Race News.
“That’s the big question, what we’ll roll out with at Sandown. We’ve put a lot of effort into it. It’s a massive effort.”
The second Mustang had been left as a display car, and perhaps for ride-day runs in 2021, but Blanchard and his tiny team have fast-tracked full-scale race preparation.
“We had leased two cars from Phil. One was a display car for promotional purposes, and maybe a ride or two.
“It was ready for a ride day, but nowhere near ready for a race. We’ve had to completely strip it and start from the beginning,” Blanchard said.
“It’s pretty old, but everything going into it is either from the crashed car or completely new. We’re built it up from the ground.”
While the focus at CoolDrive has been on the car, Blanchard said Tim Slade will be back at his best for Sandown.
“He just had a bit of a sore neck. He was alright after a day or two. He’s been spending a lot of time in the workshop, helping the boys.
“He is pretty harsh on himself. You don’t need to say anything.
“I told him at the time that I would much rather he crashed the car fighting for a podium than running around in 20th place. That hasn’t changed.”
But the mechanical plan has changed, with the crew preparing to shift their focus back to the original Mustang once Sandown is done.
“It’s pretty bad, but it will be repairable. There is a little bit of damage to the firewall, but it is all repairable.
“We’ll have a crack at repairing that one once we have the second car ready for Sandown. We’ll be tinkering away in the background.
“The plan is to use the second car for a couple of races and then revert back to the original.”
But one thing has changed, and that’s the financing for season 2021.
“It’s our whole year of budgeted crash damage for the whole year gone in the first race. It’s just part of motorsport, unfortunately,” said Blanchard.
“It’s a fairly big hit. It’s going to be tight, but we’ll make it work going forward.”