The intense feud between abrasive Australian Supercars star David Reynolds and the Kiwi king Scott McLaughlin is laid bare in a compelling behind-the-scenes television series debuting on New Zealand screens tomorrow night.
Inside the Line – A Season with Erebus Motorsport was commissioned by Australia's Fox Sports and is making its world premiere in Sydney tonight. It follows a full season of the Aussie Supercars series through the eyes of the Penrite Racing Team and its top driver Reynolds.
The eight-episode series debuts on Sky Sport 5 8.30pm tomorrow and is similar in vein to the successful Netflix series on Formula 1 titled Drive to Survive which focuses on the big personalities within the sport with fly-on-the-wall footage from the pits through to the corporate board room.
But the personalities within Inside the Line like Reynolds and Penrite's "bogan" owner Betty Kleminko loom larger even than life than their F1 counterparts. An explosive rivalry with McLaughlin is also a running theme with the two drivers having it out in a confrontation in the pits after an on-track encounter in Queensland last year.
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The Kiwi two-time Supercars champion and last year's Bathurst winner clashed with Reynolds during the opening lap of the Townsville 400 last July and immediately after the race went to the Penrite team pits to complain, only to meet with a hostile reception from the entire Penrite team.
"I just wanted to know what happened," said McLaughlin of the incident. "I just felt the hit in the rear, so that's how it is. Honest, I went down there and got yelled at left, right and centre by the whole garage pretty much."
The cameras captured the fiery exchange between Ford's McLaughlin and his Holden opposite and Penrite's volatile racing boss Barry Ryan whose brooding and occasionally boorish behaviour is also a recurring theme through the series.
The Townsville incident was a tipping point in a tension-packed feud between McLaughlin and Reynolds which escalated at the Sandown 500 in November after the New Zealander controversially won the Bathurst 1000 the month before.
Reynolds repeatedly taunted McLaughlin throughout the year with a range of allegations including that his Ford Mustang had an unfair mechanical advantage over the rest of the V8 fleet and that explained the Kiwi's dominance (McLaughlin won a record 18 races in securing his second Aussie Supercars V8 crown last year).
He also claimed McLaughin was "boring" and "precious" and had become "corporatised".
McLaughlin has preferred to describe his relationship with Reynolds as a "rivalry…a good rivalry" but did admit the acrimony last season. "In a sport you're going to get to a point where you don't like someone. You can't like everyone, that's just BS," he says on the series.
The stoush with McLaughlin is just one of a number of compelling incidents within the warts-and-all series and shows why behind-the-scenes content within major professional sport is now becoming almost as prized by fans as the live event itself.
Reynolds, a 10-year plus veteran of Supercars who was nicknamed "Crazy Dave" early in his career, has long been a controversial figure in Aussie Supercars. The 2018 Bathurst champion has been called a "lovable larrikin" at best but also "toxic" and "divisive".
While his irreverent personality – he once threatened to strip naked on a victory podium – and compulsion to run his mouth makes Reynolds a captivating figure within Inside the Line, he's by no means the sole star.
Kleminko owns the Penrite team. With her short peroxided hair and tattooed bulldog-like arms, Betty Is a long way from the contemporary owner of a sports team. She's straight up and down in more ways than one, but mixes her authority with her own brand of tough love (which often isn't so tough).
"I was all for doing this," Klimenko said of the series. "In the beginning it was a little daunting, but once you got used to a crew they were really good about it and it just became part of every weekend. I forgot about them half the time. I'd go to the bathroom and leave my mic on by mistake!
"I think people will love it because they're going right behind the scenes. Not just right into the garage but de-briefs, the personal lives of the people who make up Erebus. They're going to see what makes us tick. Every team is different and this is how we do it."
Between Reynolds and his hijinks and Kleminko's curious Mama Bear persona, Ryan comes across as the boss from hell.
He manages to make the fiery Team Haas boss Guenter Steiner of Drive to Survive fame look like a demure churchgoer. Ryan outdoes Steiner in terms of F-bombs in just one episode. He has just two moods – smouldering and exploding.
At one stage, the pit crew fret aloud during a race about the car running out of fuel.
"Someone won't be here tomorrow if it f***ing runs out," Ryan scowls.
Another time, the camera catches Ryan lashing out over a rival driver: "F***ing Paul Kelly needs a f***ing punch in the face."
The release of the series comes as Supercars racing is put on hold amid the Covid-19 outbreak with Supercars also launching a 10-week online All Stars E-series, out of the pit lane at 9.30pm on April 8 available on Sky Sport 5.
The Inside Line series will also be an annual production, with a new team to feature in the next series based on events of the 2020 season if it gets under way.
Inside the Line debuts on Sky Sport 5 Wednesday night at 8.30pm and on Sky Sport Now.