Murray Bridge speedway driver Rory Jackermis earns gig as Supercars Championship engineer with Team 18

At the age of two, Rory Jackermis ran away to the speedway.

His family home was just down the road on Murray Bridge's east side, and his dad found him staring through a gate into the pits.

He would cross that fence when he grew older, then another and another - until Tuesday, when he stepped into the pits at The Bend Motorsport Park as an engineer with a Supercars Championship outfit.

There he was in Team 18's garage on the pre-season test day, as drivers Mark Winterbottom, Scott Pye and other engineers hurried around, fiddling with two Holden Commodores before they roared out for another lap.

Like any other child who was into cars, Mr Jackermis had wanted to be a racing driver.

He found his outlet at Murray Bridge Speedway, starting with a V6 sprint car, then a speedcar with his dad's British racing green livery.

His on-track successes were few and far between, he said, but the format gave him an opportunity to develop his own parts and test them out.

"Whilst it was a very small-budget operation, there was a lot that I could learn," he said.

"That was what I wanted to get out of it."

He also took part in Formula SAE, a national racing competition for engineering students, with the University of South Australia, then Flinders University; and got his first professional experience with sports sedan team Steven Tamasi Racing, who went on to win the national championship.

That opened up more opportunities, including with R-Tek Motorsport in Australian Formula Three.

"Last year, my first full year with the team, we won the Australian championship and went through the season undefeated, which was a feat never before done," he said.

"That was a pretty exciting year."

It was not long before he landed a full-time job with Team 18, which will run two Commodores in the Supercars season starting in Adelaide this weekend.

As a data engineer, it is his job to model any conditions which might affect upcoming races; to collect data in the workshop and out on the track; and to help the team use it to determine everything from mechanical calibration to pit stop strategy and driving style.

"We'll do preparation, including things like looking at what sort of weather you might get over the weekend ... maybe track changes and things like that, essentially making sure everyone has a good idea of what to expect for the weekend to come," he said.

"We have to present data to the other race engineers and make sure they ... better understand what changes have been made to the car, setup changes and things we've tried.

"I need to be able to look at things like the fuel burn rate and figure out how far we might be able to get in a race, and what the best strategy might be in order to get home at the end of a race in the best possible position; and also looking at what the driver might be able to change in their style to make sure that they're getting the most out of the car."

It could be stressful at the pinnacle of Australian motor sport, he said, but it was exciting to see how far team members push each other to achieve their best.

Winterbottom finished 13th in Team 18's only Supercars Championship entry last year, while Pye - racing for another team - placed one position higher.

The championship will return to Tailem Bend for The Bend 500 in September.

This story Murray Bridge speedway driver earns gig as Supercars engineer first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.