IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom has lifted the lid on his 2021 helmet design, celebrating 30 years of racing with a tribute to his first ever helmet.
The 2015 Supercars Champion and 2013 Bathurst 1000 winner has traded his usual colours for a replica of his very first helmet he wore as a junior in go-karts, featuring a striking purple and yellow theme recreated by local Sydney designer Trent Rogers of 6Star Custom Paint.
The Sydney-born driver found his love for motorsport when he was nine years old at the Sydney Kart Racing Club 30 years ago, and it was then when his mother, June, surprised him with a specially painted helmet during a family trip to the United States.
Winterbottom went on to become one of the best karters of his generation, picking up ten Australian Karting Championship titles and 25 state titles.
The local karting battlegrounds of Australia was also when Winterbottom first raced against the likes of future Supercars rivals Jamie Whincup, James Courtney, Will Davison and Team 18 enduro stablemate Michael Caruso.
Winterbottom also shares a long relationship with helmet designer Rogers, when the pair met as team-mates in the senior factory Tony Kart team. Rogers has since designed Winterbottom’s helmets for the last seven years.
In 2021, Winterbottom enters his third season with Team 18 after recently signing a two-year extension of his contract to stay on with the team through to the introduction of the Gen-3 regulations in 2022.
Winterbottom will hit the track in the IRWIN Racing Supercar for the official pre-season test at Winton Motor Raceway on February 16, before the first round of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship at the Mount Panorama 500 on February 26-28.
Mark Winterbottom, Driver – #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“For 2021 I’m really excited to reveal my 30-year anniversary design with a modern spin on my very first helmet,” said Winterbottom.
“Helmet designs are always a special item for drivers as it’s the only thing we truly own, and my first helmet is one of my proudest possessions that sits in my cabinet at home.
“I ran this design for a few years in karts. As a karter your pride and joy is your helmet, so to have a paint job that was unique and different at the time was really cool.
“Karting for me started out as pure fun and for the love of driving, then it grew in competitiveness to national and international competitions, but you never thought it would lead to a professional career in Supercars.
“Karting teaches you everything you need to know to be a racing driver and that’s when I raced against some of my current Supercar rivals for the first time. It was the best way to kickstart my racing career.
“If I can have half the success in my Supercar helmet as I did in my original karting helmet then we’ll be set for a great year ahead.
“Trent from 6Star Custom Paint did a ridiculously-good job with the design and execution. It means a lot to me and I can’t wait to wear it proudly when we go racing this year.”
Trent Rogers, Owner – 6 Star Custom Paint
“Mark approached me with an idea to celebrate his 30 years in motorsport by bringing his very first helmet design back to life,” said Rogers.
“We tried to keep it as close to the original as possible with some slight changes to accommodate his sponsors and to flow with the modern helmet shapes.
“I actually raced go-karts with Mark when we were younger around 25 years ago.
“He’d already been racing karts for about seven or eight years and I started a bit later in life, but we raced together in the same team for Jim Morton and Tony Kart and we’ve had a great relationship since then.
“He eventually pursued his motorsport career while I pursued my interest in art, and through my sign writing and spray painting background it lead me to start painting helmets and I’ve been painting them for Mark for the last seven years.”