Why Brock called Neil Crompton ‘Miss Daisy’
IF YOU pull up at the lights next to former V8 Supercar driver and commentator Neil Crompton, don't expect a drag race. The man who spent years driving on the limit has no interest in traffic light grand prix.
"(Peter) Brock used to call me Miss Daisy because he didn't feel that I drove fast enough when we were driving to a race meeting. I'm pretty placid on the road," he says.
For Crompton, a racetrack and a public road are worlds apart. "Motorsport's one thing and transportation from A to B is another. I don't try and mix the two. Having spent 20-odd years in a race car I'm acutely aware of what can go wrong," he says.
He finds it hard to come to terms with all the "misplaced aggression" on the road.
"I see people behind the wheel do things that in any other circumstances they wouldn't do," he says. Like queue jumping. "They'll go past 72 cars down the left side then expect that everybody is quite happy to sit there while they take what they perceive to be their rightful place at the front of the queue," he says.
"If you did that at a supermarket someone would grab you by the scruff of the neck. It's just fundamentally appalling manners."
His driving style has mellowed but his passion for racing hasn't dimmed. As a teen in Ballarat, he competed in motorkhanas, driving Mini Coopers and HK Monaros.
But at home, fast cars weren't the thing. His father had a penchant for Goggomobils, the quirky German-designed sports cars built in Australia in the late '50s and early '60s.
"Dad had a fleet of Goggomobil Darts. He had a black one, a white one, a red one, a turquoise one," he says.
Crompton's first set of wheels was a modest Hillman Hunter but he lusted after the big locally made sports sedans.
"In that period cars were a very big deal, a big passion item, a must-have. They were a visible accessory in your life," he says.
Makers would have dealer launches of new models behind closed doors at the Ballarat showground. "The brand wars were huge in those days … Ford, GM and Chrysler," he says.
"You'd get a sneak peek through an inch and a half crack in a door of what the new Valiant might look like - a Charger was monumental - or the first glimpse of an XU1 Torana."
Cars then were a passion rather than a commodity. "It's just a generational thing. I think the iPhone's taken that role now," he says.
The Hillman gave way to a light green mid-'70s Torana Plus 4, with go-fast stripes. Aged 25, he bought his first new car, a BMW M3 he later gave to his parents. These days he has a far more sedate RAV4, courtesy of his role running the Toyota 86 racing series.
Neil Crompton calls the opening round of the Supercars championship, the Superloop Adelaide 500, this weekend on Fox Sports and TEN.