Today we welcome the beginning of the legend of the 99 Psycho Clowns F1.
You could feel the tension in the air.. it wasn't immediately evident, well how could it be, this was the 99 Psycho Clowns outfit - arguably one of the most professional teams in Australian motorsport, a team where fun is the key, yet behind all the broad smiles, and the in-jokes, was a level of quiet uncertainty...
Since he kicked the team off two seasons ago, Daniel McMahon has very quickly taken the sport of ski racing to an all new level, yet whilst so many teams were quick to enter themselves at the pinnacle and make sweeping statements about how they would be the next world champions, McMahon chose a lesser walked path, and worked his way through some of the 'junior' [yet still high profile] classes of competition, whilst testing at a rate that would make even messrs Cranny and Houston [clown] green with envy.
In essence, he earned his stripes, before planning an attack on the outright Super Class, with plans to tow an outright contender to the Open Mens world championships in 2013 in the US. And in true Psycho Clowns form, McMahon went straight to the top, to one of Australia's greatest ever ski racing exponents - reigning world champion Wayne Mawer - to attract him back into the sport and work him into fitness to go after one more world crown, one that could very well be, the first of many for the 99PC team.
As with any great Australian legend, the story had to begin somewhere, and that somewhere was Geelong's Corio Bay on a bright, still August morning for the opening round of the Victorian Grand Prix Series, set to a world championship circuit racing format of one hours racing, plus a lap.
99 Psycho Clowns F1 -
Whilst everyone was going about their normal routines, across in the 99PC camp it was more than just 'another day', it was the day that multiple world champion Wayne Mawer would return to competitive skiing after a serious back injury 12 months ago and it would be the maiden voyage of the team's new flagship, the mighty 99 Psycho Clowns F1 Velocity V7, complete with Mercury's new 1350 twin-turbo V8 and Mercury 8-drive out the back.
It hadn't been an easy debut with the F1 Velocity (model F7), teething problems in getting the package on the water meant that they arrived at Geelong well behind where they wanted to be.
'My plan was to have 100 hours testing under our belts before we got too serious with the new boat,' Daniel admitted, 'but this year's world championships are just a few short weeks away, and the best preparation is race miles, so we're here to break in the boat and get some laps on Wayne's legs...'
They may not be towing Mawer in the world championships this year, but McMahon and the team are scheduled to tow a number of British skiers at Moreton Bay in early September, so it was vital to get laps.
99 Psycho Clowns F1 -
Prior to Mawer's run though they had Chelsea Blight on the back for a run at the women's F1/F2 race, the new Velocity running flawlessly to take second, beaten only by Psycho Clown's F2 team with Rick Love at the wheel (Love joining the F1 team for men's as observer for Mawer), and F2 world championship favourite Trudi Stout on the ski.
'The boat ran flawlessly,' McMahon beamed, 'although there were a few teething issues. There's no windscreen, so we're copping a bit of wash, and the solenoid on the pump failed, so we're not carrying any ballast, so we were higher in the water than we'd have liked. It also took me a little while to sort the trim tabs, and that made things exciting for a while, but apart from that, it was a great start.'
For the F1/F2 mens race though, against one of the favourites for this year's world title - Peter Procter behind Hellbent - things improved again, 99 Psycho Clowns F1 running second to Procter, the only team not to go a lap down in the one hour plus a lap endurance event.
'That was brilliant,' McMahon beamed afterwards. 'The package is pretty impressive. We needed some ballast for sure, and it still took me a few laps to sort the trim tabs and get them right, but once we did that we were comfortably over 100mph pace, and our last five laps were our fastest.'
For Mawer it was all smiles, the reigning world champion coming through happy and unscathed, Psycho Clowns the only team within reach of world-champion elect Peter Procter. 'My goal before the start of the race was to make sure we weren't lapped, so we did that,' he grinned.
'The endurance was there, but the spring wasn't - I'm not surprised - it has been a long time since I've competed under that format (Belgium 2009).
'It was a great boat to ski behind. We could have gone faster, as it took Daniel a few laps to sort the trim tabs, and then we got caught on the inside with some of the slower boats, but once we got to the outside, the pace picked up and it was surprisingly comfortable.'
It had been a long day, and as the sun started to set on the parting teams, it was clear that the 99 Psycho Clowns team had taken a solid first step forward in their plans to be the 2013 world champions.
99 Psycho Clowns is proudly supported by iSH24, Velocity Boats, Ash's Spoked Wheels, Rob Storum Photographics, H2O Graphics, Mercury Racing, Task Brothers Racing and Race Paint.
99 Psycho Clowns website