Former Supercars driver Paul Weel will make a major return to motorsport after a 12-year lay-off in this year’s Boost Mobile Stadium Super Trucks Series beginning with the Superloop Adelaide 500 this month.
Weel was involved in an horrific crash in practice for the Supercheap Bathurst 1000 in 2008 when his stationary car was destroyed after being t-boned at high speed by Chris Pither at the exit of Reid Park.
Weel was airlifted from Bathurst to Sydney after the accident where scans revealed he had a fractured back, split spleen and a punctured lung.
Weel finished fifth outright in the Sepang 12 Hour with the Quinn family in 2009, but has not competed competitively since entering the Australian Safari in 2011.
He stepped away from the sport to concentrate on the development of the family’s PWR Performance Products business in Australia and the US, which has since successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
Weel, who cut his teeth in stadium offroad events before progressing to Supercars, will be one of several drivers involved in a practice and coaching session at Queensland Raceway this morning under the guidance of veteran Paul Morris, who is a former SST champion.
The Gold Coaster is set to make his SST debut in the first round of the Australia v USA Series in Adelaide February 20-23 before races at the Pirtek Perth SuperNight in Perth (May 15-17) and the Gold Coast 600 (October 30-November 1).
A standalone Australian SST championship will run in conjunction with Supercars in Tasmania, New Zealand, Townsville, Darwin and at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“I really learned my trade in stadium off-road racing which is obviously quite similar to SST,” Weel told Speedcafe.com.
“I have driven one of the new trucks at Norwell and they are good fun. I am looking forward to racing guys like Robby (Gordon) and competing without the pressure of something like Supercars.
“I am actually as excited about getting out there as I was when I first started racing, but this time around I’m 40 not 18.”
Weel, who turned 40 last year, raced 11 seasons in Supercars and had a best result of third in Race 2 of the Adelaide 500 in 2003, a best enduro result of fifth with Stone Brothers Racing and Marcos Ambrose in the 2002 Queensland 500, and a best Bathurst 1000 finish of eighth in 1999 with Greg Crick and 2006 with Nathan Pretty.
As well as the SST series, Weel will also be making a return to off-road racing and will compete in the famous Mint 400 in Las Vegas from March 3-8 in a truck prepared by Geiser Brothers in Arizona.
Weel has also purchased a Geiser Brothers machine from Toby Price and is currently rebuilding it in preparation for this year’s Tatts Finke Desert Race (June 5-8) and possibly other rounds of the Motorsport Australia BFGoodrich Off Road Championship.
The 53rd Baja 1000 could also be on his calendar from November 16-21.
“The Mint 400 and Finke are definitely on the schedule for us this year and we will continue to reassess our program as we go,” said Weel.
“We are currently rebuilding Toby’s truck with all the good PWR gear and I am looking forward to giving it a good shakedown.
“Geiser Brothers are a customer of PWR in the US and I am excited about running with them at the Mint 400 which is a cool event.
“I have had some contact about entering an Australian team in the Baja 1000, but we will just need to see how things progress in the first part of the year.”
Weel is expected to run a mixture of brands on his SST this season, including PWR.