Chatting Supercars with Chad Neylon

Hi everyone! First post of 2024!

I’m very excited to share my interview with Supercars commentator, Chad Neylon.

Fundamentally, this blog doesn’t just stem from my love of Formula 1. It’s a love of bikes, cars – basically anything with wheels that goes fast. I’m always excited to learn more and gain knowledge of different forms of motorsport.

A big thank you to Chad for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to talk. It was great to develop my understanding of Supercars and it’s evident how passionate you are about the series.

While it’s now referred to as Supercars, you may know the Australia-based series as one of its former names, such as ‘V8 Supercars’ or the ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’. Top speeds average an impressive 250km/h. But much of motorsport is fast, so you may be thinking – ‘why Supercars?’

Credit: Supercars

“I think a lot of the reasoning is just how unique our series is. You’ve got NASCAR, F1, GT3 racing, sportscar racing, but Supercars is something completely different. It’s kind of a mixture between a lot of those different series. . . the DNA of it is big muscle cars . . . – Mustangs and Camaros, so they look mean, right? And they’ve got huge amounts of horsepower. They don’t have a lot of grip or a lot of aero, like a Formula 1 car. They slide around and they bang doors. The racing product itself is pretty cool.”

Then there are the locations, in which Chad takes a lot of pride. He listed Bathurst as “our absolute best” and spotlighted Adelaide, Townsville, and Surfers Paradise as “our core street circuits [which] provide excellent racing for our category”.

The Supercars team does tourism pieces at these picturesque locations on the calendar. These showcase the scenic backdrops of the series’ races, allowing fans to immerse themselves in the surrounding settings.

Bathurst 1000. Credit: Walkinshaw Andretti United

“. . . those tourism dollars are hugely important to Supercars because you’ve got a government that’s willing to use Supercars as a platform to show people all over the world – ‘hey check out Queensland – beautiful beaches, skyrise buildings, what a cool place’. Then you’ll go . . . to New Zealand. . . [whose] government is so strongly supportive of Supercars because this is an outlet to show, particularly people in Australia, ‘look how beautiful our country is’.”

When speaking to Chad, I found myself wanting to learn more about these tourism pieces. Broadcasters used to incorporate these more into F1 media, but they’ve disappeared over the years. I find it quite unique that Supercars really spends the time to connect with the fans and bridge the gap between the TV and the viewers.

But the racing itself is enough to hook millions worldwide, with high “risk versus reward”.

“. . . There’s concrete walls. . . there’s action, there’s crashes, there’s everything you want to see from a cool racing series. . . the racing product is properly hard racing – pushing and shoving.”

Credit: InSyde Media

“I love NASCAR because it’s uniquely American. I feel like Australians have a racing product in Supercars that is uniquely Australian. Its identity being so Aussie . . . is why I feel like international viewers would love it so much. . . I think the racing product and the drivers behind the wheel are excellent and worth watching wherever you are in the world.”

The creation of ‘SuperView’ has made watching the series outside of Australia and New Zealand easier. The series’ streaming platform allows international fans to view races after they’ve been broadcasted.

Supercars has also skillfully navigated the switch to video-based content, with a YouTube channel of more than 200,000 subscribers. On the platform, fans can catch ‘best radio’ snippets, race highlights, press conferences and more. Chad enforced the point that this engagement is echoed in their social media numbers too.

“It is very passionately supported here in Australia, we’re lucky to have a huge fanbase.”

“I think there’s 1.1 million likes on Facebook, so that’s pretty handy given that it’s a domestic category here in Australia. And the population of Australia is only 26 million . . .”

In my research for speaking to Chad, I came across an interview where he stated he believed the Supercars coverage could be up there with “some of the best motorsport TV in the world”. I wanted to know why that was.

“We have a limited budget compared to Formula 1, NASCAR and MotoGP, who I consider the best broadcasters – with Supercars. But I think if you compare dollar for dollar – the output that Supercars is able to produce, I think we do a really good job. The simplest answer I can give you is that we do an excellent job at showing how fast the cars are. . . the camera positions play a huge part in that – lower camera positions, camera positions closer to the racetrack, highlight the speed when a car flicks past the camera at that breakneck speed . . .”

Chad with Bathurst 12 Hour Winner & Supercars commentator Neil Crompton. Credit: Chad Neylon

“Job 2 [is to] tell the story. We’re quite lucky to have a really good broadcast team of drivers who have raced in the series before, broadcasters who have a lot of experience in other racing series and that gives you the ability to be able to get in there and talk to these drivers.

“Finally, it’s the access the drivers give us. In Formula 1, they [drivers] get out of the race car, they have a chance to cool down. And then eventually . . . they go off into the TV pen . . . and they do the full lap around. Whereas Supercars, it’s only us and we’re quite lucky in that respect. As soon as they get out of their race car. . . you can be straight in there with an interview. That access to the drivers is pretty rare and in having that, you end up being able to tell the story for the viewer a lot more comprehensively and with a lot more passion and emotion in it. I feel like that’s what makes good TV.”

From learning about Supercars, what’s clear about the series is the dedication the racers, team crew, and broadcasters possess. Chad summed it up best as a product that is “so Aussie”. It’s obvious this series is a source of much national pride.

Again, I’m thankful to Chad for his time and words. I’m interested in staying tuned next season and keeping up with another series in this wonderful sport.

Thanks for reading – more posts to come soon!

Cover Image Credit: Supercars