Behind The Sport - Jarrod Maclean
Hold on to your helmets, hats, toupees & loose change, this Behind the Sport is covering no less than 10 motorsport disciplines & 1 distinctive voice.
Hold on to your helmets, hats, toupees and loose change, this Behind the Sport is covering, Drifting (Local and National) , Time Attack , Drag Racing (Local and National) , Speedway , Motorcycle Road Racing , Motorcross , Supermoto , Karting , Burnouts , Offroad Enduro Racing and Automotive shows such as Motorvation, Motorex, WA Street Machine and Hot Rod Spectacular.
How is that all possible you ask? Soon to be 30 year old Jarrod Maclean aka J-Mac is how. A fixture of not only local West Australian motorsport behind the microphone and in front of the camera, but makes regular trips to cover national events plus he's all about encouraging new talent and keeping the crowd interested without making it cringe worthy.
A man who when he was involved in a horrific car accident had the motorsport family rally around him to assist him emotionally and financially with his recovery, this Behind the Sport outing is going to be a roller coaster of laughs and tears all in one.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE IN MOTORSPORT?
I’ve managed to score roles as a motorsport commentator or event announcer, depends how you slice it and what the gig is .
J-Mac arriving at the Perth Motorplex for Whoop Ass Wednesday / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
WHAT WAS BEHIND YOUR DECISION TO GET INTO MOTORSPORT?
I was brought up from a young age on a diet of V8 supercars, regional burnout comps and occasional trips to the city to check out big Drag Racing meets for Doorslammer and Top Fuel. We never had heaps of money, so being a racer was pretty much out of the question, but Dad campaigned a Buick V6 swapped Navara trayback at Narrogin RevHeads and such. Fast forward to my misguided and rather short university career where I had aspirations of being a print journalist writing for magazines and websites following F1 and MotoGP. I was never going to be a racer but this was a way for me to get as close to the scene without getting into a suit and actually cutting laps and the financial pressures that entails.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH MOTORSPORT?
On a professional level, since I was 20. You guys are smart, you do the math. My first gig was at the Perth Motorplex writing stories for their website for Drag Racing
HAVE YOU DONE ANY COMPETITIVE MOTORSPORT, IF SO PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IT WAS AND HOW YOU WENT?
I’ve entered two race events, both with the Supermoto WA club and both racing postie bikes. My first event in Geraldton was my best with a 3rd place overall, and my more recent expedition saw me come dead motherless last in every race…
5 years ago, someone had the absolutely idiotic idea of putting 10 of the slowest bikes known to man on a go-kart track at Wanneroo Kartway. No power, barely any grip in the tyres and suspension made of wet cardboard. These bikes were an absolutely laughable way to go racing. But you know what? The action is absolutely spectacular. It’s cheap, its harder than it looks and there’s no racing for sheep stations. Play your cards right and it’s a $3000 affair to get everything you need from bike to gear and the necessary licenses to go racing.
I still have the postie bike and intend to compete at the rounds in Geraldton and Lake King. I also took delivery of a CRF450X endure bike and intend to run in Round 2 of the Brookton Pony Express Series, an event I’ve announced for the last 5 years. It’s about time I tried some of these sports.
J-Mac in a place he holds most dear - Perth Motorplex / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING MOMENT IN YOUR CURRENT OR A PAST ROLE IN MOTORSPORT?
The Perth Motorplex has long been recognised as a breeding ground for talent. A place where people can hone their skills and see what it’s like working on camera to a decent crowd. For that, the work I’ve done at the ‘plex will always hold a special place in my heart. But my most rewarding moment would have to be right when I opened the Hi-Tec Drift Australia Live Stream at the iconic Thunder Dome at Calder Park. For an opportunity to host a national series like that and to make the friends and work with truly professional colleagues was really an incredible moment.
YOU RECENTLY WENT TO THE WORLD TIME ATTACK IN SYDNEY, AN EVENT I WAS GUTTED TO HAVE MISSED MYSELF, WALK US THROUGH YOUR DAILY ROUTINE FOR IT?
1. WTAC2019 would see me get out of the hotel after a sleepless night prior (I was nervous as f**k), grab a coffee and a dirty feed of Macca’s and roll into the track at about 7am. After this breakfast of champions, I normally like to roll down pit lane. None of the big name drivers are there yet, but it’s a great opportunity to meet the real workers in the teams, crew chiefs, mechanics, people that really make it all come together. I’ve got a pretty easy manner with people, and the easiest way to find info on how a car’s going or how a drivers coping is to talk to those guys and girls. Attend the driver briefing, meet some of the drivers, but that’s really so I can wrap my head around how the day’s going to pan out and basic operational stuff.
Next up is the team briefing for the announcers and our production team. (Fun Fact: we had 6 commentators/ on screen hosts, but had a crew of 14 staff, including audio, graphics, floor production, director, replay engineer and camera operators). We’ll identify hot topics and stuff we desperately need to get shot for the post-event TV show. The live stream started around 9:00AM, giving us time to go out and pre-record interviews and openers before we go “Live”.
From 9:00AM its completely run and gun. Everything we do after that point is purely reactionary. Someone crashes, we go do the interview. Someone catches on fire, we talk to the officials. If there’s downtime, we head out to the car show and poke around out there. We’re at the mercy of the event by that stage, right up until the pitwalk, where we battled literally thousands of people to get up close and personal with drivers and cars alike.
It’s a total blur, I remember powerskids, the Flying 500 roll-racing event and Matty Hall; RedBull Air Race world Champion taking off vertically at the end of the SMSP straight. And through all of this, you’ve got to stop coming over like a giddy school-kid and remember that you’re here to do a job!
At the conclusion, we chose the end of pit lane and closed out the live stream. It was huge, because as soon as you hear that you’re clear of the stream, you just want to collapse! So satisfying to look back on the event though.
J-Mac catching up with regulars at the Perth Motorplex / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
YOU HAD A BIT OF A RUN IN WITH PAULY FROM FAT PIZZA, ARE YOU TAKING OUT “THONGING” INSURANCE FOR NEXT TIME YOU HEAD BACK TO SYDNEY?
In my defence, I had 20secs to work out what I was going to say, but even still, I made the fatal mistake of not going back over the cast and crew of the FAT PIZZA series, before interviewing Paulie. I asked him how his Mama was, instead of how Bobo’s Mama was. I barely got away with my life, I swear it. Paulie was really good, the man ishilarious, lightning quick witted and just a consummate professional. He was there not only to promote the return of FAT PIZZA, but was working with the Starlight Foundation to help hospitalised kids and their families in need. But yeah, rest assured I’ll be better prepped next time…
AT A REGULAR EVENT, HOW DO YOU “KEEP THINGS INTERESTING” FOR YOURSELF AND FOR THE AUDIENCE?
There is ALWAYS something interesting going on. It’s down to a successful announcer to find out what that is and work out how to convey that to the spectator in a way they’ll understand. I’m not a racer or a mechanic, but I can take the complexities of what a driver or rider is telling me and put it across on a level that newcomers to a sport can understand.
J-Mac commentating at Round 3 of the D1WA 2019 Championship / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CATEGORY OF RACING?
I love drifting. It’s been a recent addition to my repertoire, but I’ve found a sport that’s dynamic, requires skill but also throws away the common concept of “first-over-the-line-wins-a-prize”. The people involved are varied, and although the LS-swap trend has definitely set in on a national scale, there’s still enough forced-induction jap motors to keep things interesting.
IN GENERAL, HOW HAS MOTORSPORT CHANGED SINCE YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED?
Motorsport has benefited and also been hurt by the rise of social media. We can use it to get our chosen sport out there to a wider audience. The downside to that is, who’s going to come to the event if its being broadcast on Facebook live? Also, the rise of the keyboard warrior has set up the potential for some great rivalries and competition, but quite often brings out the ugly side in people. It’s a mixed bag, especially given how fractured and political Motorsport has the potential to be and to become.
J-Mac's voice, smile and swagger is easily recognisable at a distance / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOU’LL KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING?
Tough question. I’ve got a pretty good hit rate with being asked to come back to events I work now. You’re not always going to win them all, but I’d say I’m good for another 15 years at least, provided I can remain relevant. That’s the tough part. No one wants to listen to some old geezer who doesn’t know when to step aside and let new blood through.
DO YOU HAVE ANY GOALS WITHIN YOUR ROLE TO MOVE FORWARD OR DO OTHER THINGS IN MOTORSPORT?
My biggest goal at the moment is to try and nurture new talent. WA has a drought for people with a knack and a drive to do this kind of work, and there are many codes of motorsport and racing, where the old-boys club seems happy to stick to what they know and what they’re comfortable with. I want to have a solid crew of commentators that are made up of guys and girls around me that can really shake things up and bring some new blood to the table. People that are multi-skilled and can be as effective in the commentary box as well as the pit-lane, or in front of camera and in the paddock.
J-Mac says he'll wander off into the sunset before becoming one of the old guys that no-one wants to listen to / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT MOTORSPORT RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Investment. Motorsport needs investment, and on a scale never seen before. Tailem Bend and the work and strategy shown by the Shahin family proves that there is the possibility of improvement and new opportunity, it just needs to be spent wisely. It’s just a shame there aren’t more Gary Miocevich’s (Perth Motorplex) and George Gambino’s (Hi-Tec Drift Australia) in the world.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WHO WANTED TO GET INVOLVED WITH MOTORSPORT IN A MEDIA ROLE?
You’re going to start from the bottom. You’re going to do the early starts, the long days. You’ll cover the coffee breaks and do the shit jobs and you’ll make stuff all money. But one day, someone will be sick, or someone will be at a wedding and won’t be able to fill a role, and that’s where you come in. Fill the gap, be what they want and prove to them and yourself that you’re the right person for the job. Reach out to industry professionals. I still regularly talk to my commentary mentor Matt Naulty and have never been turned away for asking questions.
And ask the goddamn dumb questions. Constantly seek self-improvement, because the moment you think you’re at the top of your game and there’s nothing more you can learn, you’re no longer at the top, or if you are, you don’t deserve to be anymore.
2 YEARS AGO YOU WERE INVOLVED IN AN HORRIFIC ACCIDENT, AFTERWARD YOU SAID THAT IT HAD CHANGED YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON RACING, WHAT CHANGED?
I had a head on collision with a driver under the influence of drugs at an estimated 170kmph combined velocity. Riders and drivers across many different disciplines regularly exceed that without batting an eyelid. I realise now more than ever the importance of safety features in these sports. We have people like Brent Peters from Luxe Performance doing everything he can to try and make safety affordable, yet still safe, and we still see people taking shortcuts with cages, seats, harnesses and helmets.
J-Mac discussing a new project at Whoop Ass Wednesday / PHOTO: BeardySnaps
AFTERWARDS YOU WERE AWAY FROM THE TRACK FOR SOME TIME, WHAT DID YOU MISS MOST ABOUT NOT BEING THERE?
The track is the closest thing I have to a church, and racing is where I’ve made my friends and it’s where I feel most comfortable. After the accident I was stunned by the outpouring of support and empathy from the motorsport community. No matter what the motoring discipline, the common thread throughout every scene is the people. They’re irreplaceable and some of the very best humanity has to offer.
YOUR FIRST EVENT BACK, WHAT WAS IT? HOW WERE THE EMOTIONS?
I cried. I remember hobbling through the door to the commentary box at the Perth Motorplex and thinking “I’m home”. We had an awesome show that night and it was amazing to be back.
It’s been two years since the crash. For my family it feels like yesterday, and my mum still wants me to slow down and take better care of myself. I feel like it has consumed me enough and its time to move ahead. But man, what an experience. I was pretty lucky hey? Lucky to have a beautiful family, amazing friends and so much support. Not everyone gets that opportunity.
A MASSIVE THANK YOU TO J MAC FOR THE CHAT, HE MENTIONED THAT IF ANYONE IS KEEN TO GET INVOLVED AND WANTS TO SEE WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT, HIT HIM UP ON HIS FACEBOOK PAGE AND GET SOMETHING ORGANISED! HE'S A HUGE SUPPORTER OF UP AND COMING TALENT.
J-Mac having a laugh in the staging area of Perth Motorplex / PHOTO: BeardySnaps