Let’s be honest, some team-building exercises are, at best, a day away from the humdrum of the office. But when you’re a brand like Infiniti, as the name suggests, there are no boundaries as to what can be achieved by bringing the right people together.
So when Derek Palmer, team principle of the newly formed British Touring Car Championship squad, Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing (ISOPR), contacted Infiniti UK asking for some help to train his crew of injured former Para’s, it took just one swift call to the Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 team in Milton Keynes for the invitation to be sent out.
“It is great having the BTCC team, Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing, at our factory and using the similarities between the two teams as an opportunity to learn,” said Infiniti Red Bull Racing team manager Jonathan Wheatley.
As part of their preparation for the season opener at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time, the former Para’s were shown first-hand how to prepare, both as a team and individually for the rigours of a long and gruelling season. This included a session in Red Bull’s state-of-the-art gym, where crew members were taken through a series of exercises adapted to meet the challenge of their individual injuries.
ISOPR’s program for the year involves training their rookie crew, not only for the specific mechanical jobs associated with running a professional motorsports team, but also the environment around it: the logistics, the forward planning, even the mundane-but-vital details like keeping everyone fed, rested and fit. Coming to the factory was designed to give them a few things to think about ahead of the season.
“I had to keep pinching myself today,” said former paratrooper Mike Lewis, injured by an IED in Afghanistan after two deployments in Iraq. “I’ve watched the Infiniti Red Bull Racing guys change tyres on the Formula One car for years on the TV, and today I not only watched them in action, but worked alongside them. It’s been a privilege.. a wonderful experience, and to get a glimpse inside the secret workings of Infiniti Red Bull Racing will certainly fuel us towards making an impact in the BTCC.”
“It’s been a privilege. These guys are the best at what they do: of that there is no question. Sure, we don’t need to carry out pit-stops in the BTCC, but we’ve all learned so much today about how important it is to work as a unit, and as a team.”
Lewis’s views were mirrored by ISOPR team principal, Derek Palmer Sr., “This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.. It’s clear, just having spoken with the guys, that they’ve taken a huge amount from the time they’ve spent working with the Infiniti Red Bull Racing crew, who I need to thank for giving us this unique opportunity.”
“We may be coming into the BTCC as newcomers, but we are definitely prepared for the challenges which we’ll understandably face in our first season.”
The BTCC team, who will be driving Infiniti Q50s in the series, have been entered with the aim of raising awareness and funds for Support Our Paras, the official charity of the British Army’s iconic Parachute Regiment.
The team are employing injured paratroopers to prepare the cars, and have a long-term goal of eventually training an injured paratrooper to compete behind the wheel.
Credits: All photographs copyright of Getty Images for Infiniti.