American billionaire Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying technology is nothing, what is more important is faith in people.

"That they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them."

Motor racer Brad McDonald of McDonald Equipment Ltd, aka TradeZone Wanganui, repaid that faith tenfold for childhood friend Earl Bamber as his new Porsche racing team won the Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race in New South Wales earlier this month.

It has become a true Whanganui racing success story as Earl Bamber Motorsports engaged McDonald to provide all the tools and equipment for their two-car garage in Bathurst, and he then flew over to set up the workshop and ultimately joined the pit crew for the event.


Prior to this assignment, McDonald had plenty of experience in the motoring industry, helping setting up tent garages many times at New Zealand tracks in the early days of his and Bamber's careers, while having also travelled to Asia when his friend was first making waves internationally in the Porsche Carrera Cup.

However, nothing could have prepared McDonald for the excitment, and pressure, of winning Bathurst with a brand new team, as Bamber stepped out from behind the wheel to put on the headphones and direct co-drivers Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner to the checkered flag.

Whanganui's Brad McDonald, left, with co-driver Dennis Olsen after Earl Bamber Motorsports won the Bathurst 12 Hour
Whanganui's Brad McDonald, left, with co-driver Dennis Olsen after Earl Bamber Motorsports won the Bathurst 12 Hour

"He phoned for a catchup, like he usually does, and said "I've bitten off more than I can chew, I usually turn up and the tools are there'," McDonald recalled about how he got the job.

McDonald came up with customised tool boxes to house the team's equipment, and then had to organise the garage in such a way that two very busy crews would be able to move around freely without getting in each others way – the speed of making car adjustments and repairs just as important as the driver speed out on the course.

"We basically made this gear, and put them in the toolbox at this order."

McDonald wanted the engineers, who would be working frantically on the vehicles, to be able to reach back into their toolboxes and grab a specific item without needing to even look.

"You're watching, [and thinking] 'have I done my job right?'

"Probably one of the most nerve wracking moments for me, was when the German engineers put the wheels on the car," he said.

They snatched up the rattle guns, which had not been the exact tool McDonald had set for that task, meaning he was worried about the time it would take and whether the wheel nuts would hold.

"Then they dropped the wheels and put it out on the track.

"I thought, 'oh well, if they're happy'."

Quick tyre changes are their own art form in motor racing.
Quick tyre changes are their own art form in motor racing.

McDonald had put 12 days work into preparing the garage, and was delighted with how it all functioned, as Bamber told him at the Friday dinner before the race he received no negative feedback from the team, which included staff from the powerhouse Porsche factory.

Still, the Whanganui-based McDonald had felt quite "naive" about the scale of the task and the added limelight, as television cameras covering the event were constantly in the garage, filming the crew working and then their reactions to events happening on the track.

"It was a bit of an eye opener.

"It was quite...not intrusive, but something to get used too."

Bamber has been back in contact and McDonald will be joining him for EBM's next event, which is in Japan in August.

"It took me a couple of weeks to get over the last one."

McDonald is the sales manager for McDonald Equipment Ltd, which was set up by his parents Avon and Vicki in 1990.

Not all instructions in the garage were complicated.
Not all instructions in the garage were complicated.