The AC/DC singer Brian Johnson is as comfortable in a race car as he is on stage, and he has big plans to fuel his first love this year.
AC/DC frontman prepares for the tour he loves best, in a vintage racer
After more than two years on the road with AC/DC, I'm hitting the road again. Well, more like the track than road. We had over five million people come to see the band but I'd be pleased if 500 come to watch me do what I like best: racing.
It's going to be quite a year. My season will start in Florida, where I live.
The first race is the Palm Beach Raceway. I'm going to race the Royale RP4, which is a wonderful British sports racer. It was built in 1971 but it's still very competitive today. It has a 1,600cc engine, and it's very quick.
The races here in the States are to get the juices going, gets me sharp and all of that. Because the summer is when it's going to get fun. I've just bought a 1965 Lola T70 with a Ford V8 engine. I can't wait to get in it. It was a gift to myself; I'd always wanted one. There weren't many of the Mark 1s, there were only 15 made. Six of them have been destroyed and I got chassis number 15, which was the last one.
It was used by Paul Newman as a training tool in the movie Winning. That was used as a camera car also, so it's got some history. It's been raced in California and I bought it from this lovely old gentleman up in Connecticut, who's had it for 30 years. It cost us a lot of money. The guy said, I want a quarter of a million dollars for it, and I thought that's cheap! Usually they go for about $600 000. And when he delivered it and my team boss went up and he said, "Brian, it's the real article, it's genuine, it's unbelievable!" So I went up there and had a look and all there was was this black tub and nine cardboard boxes! So I said, "A quarter of a million dollars for that? Are you nuts?" And he said, "You don't understand, it's one of the last ones." And I said, "Well what are we going to do?" And he said, "We're going to rebuild it, from the ground up, to make it the best Lola in the world."
The plan is to spend the summer in Europe for some racing there and then I'd love to bring it down to some of the Australian vintage racing series. Hopefully we'll get to the Goodwood Revival, Silverstone, we're trying to get into Donington and Classic Le Mans.
When I am in the UK, I'd love to meet John Surtees. He drove chassis number one. I'm very proud that I have the same type of car as he had. I'm not going to be anywhere near Surtees, but I'll give it a crack!
In some of the races you really do need a co-driver because some of them are over three hours long. It's in the rules, you have to get another driver, so maybe I could ask my friend David Coulthard to join me on those! He'd be a good co-driver. Davey 'The Ringer' Coulthard.
About four years ago there was a TV show called The Race and they asked me to participate, and I did do. And DC [Coulthard] and Eddie Irvine were the coaches, and they just taught me so much. They were just fantastic guys. DC instils so much confidence in you when he talks. He's just a quiet, calm man. He said to me, "You know Brian, you were in the purple, when you race round, on the computer." I said, "What does that mean?" And he said, "It's good when you're in the purple. I believe you could step up a bit and have a bit of fun."
I didn't really think he was serious, but late last year we were talking about a race series I could do. Australian V8 Supercars came up all that I said I'd love to have a shot in one of them, just to try it.
I love the atmosphere with the audience in the rock concerts; translate that audience to the race track. It would be amazing. I've tried the Nascar at Indianapolis. I just loved it.
Like Nascar, the V8 Supercars have a lot of power, and all the cars are pretty equal so that's what makes it so exciting to watch. But it's more exciting than Nascar. When you hear the big V8s coming by - that's what you want to hear! That's what gives you the goosebumps, a little shiver down the back. And when there's about 50 of them coming at you - man! That's rock'n'roll, right there!
[Johnson has been offered a drive in the V8 Supercar series for the upcoming season and is sorting financing.]
I'd like to think I could [qualify]. I'd certainly give it my best. I certainly wouldn't shy away from it and I'm not timid when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a car. I like to do it properly. Like Coulthard says, people who just jump into cars and go fast are idiots. You learn the car, you take it easy, where your brake points are, get comfortable with the car and then you learn to make that car do what you want. As far as your limits are concerned, when you're a younger man you've got no fear, you're quick. When you're an old fart like me, you just stay steady and try to go as fast as you can and wait for other people's mistakes. That's how I like to race. Those V8 utes look fun as well. I would mind having a crack at one them little buggers.
And with the band's standing in Australia, it's always nice to know there might be a few people who might come along to see it, but who knows, they might just come to see me make a twit of myself. I think it would be wonderful.