In the mad panic to leave Victoria for New South Wales, Nick Percat was left with little choice but to take his dog Nelson with him on the road.
On Monday it was announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews that the border with New South Wales would close on July 7 at midnight.
Shortly thereafter, the New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed its border would be closed to Melburnians from July 6 at midnight.
That led to a last-minute border dash by Erebus Motorsport, Tickford Racing, Team 18, Kelly Racing, and Walkinshaw Andretti United across state lines.
Percat and fellow Melbourne-based Brad Jones Racing driver Todd Hazelwood were among the drivers to leave, making the move up to Albury in a matter of hours.
“Brad rang just after the press conference by Daniel Andrews and we made a decision pretty early that we were going to come up and live in Albury with BJR,” Percat told Speedcafe.com.
“For Todd and myself, we’ve had to move away from home so to speak, but we’re at the team’s home base. It’s a bit more normal than if we had to go to Sydney Motorsport Park.
“I literally cleaned out the fridge, got Nelson, went and picked up my karts and engines, and headed up the Hume.”
Percat said he didn’t hesitate to take his labrador with him despite not knowing how long the pair would be away from home for.
The pair have taken refuge with Macauley Jones, who also has a few pets of his own, including a duck and two chickens.
Nelson has his own Instagram page with over 2300 followers and was a regular feature in the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries alongside Percat.
Percat said he’s looking forward to having his dog around amid the tumultuous period and hopes he can take him to Sydney Motorsport Park and complete a track walk.
“Everyone knows we are a package deal,” said Percat.
“It was funny when Brad said ‘how quickly can you pack, what do you need to do?’ I said I just needed to grab my suitcase and my dog and I’ll be up. He knows Nelson comes everywhere.
“At short notice, to be honest, I run a pretty small selection of people that I let look after him. We don’t know if this is going to be two weeks or two months.
“It’s a big ask for someone to look after your dog indefinitely.
“I think I’ll take him to Sydney and stay with some friends there while I’m racing. He’s on the road, it’s pretty fun.
“Hopefully I can take Nelson to SMP and do track walk with him, that’d be fun. He is the star of the show.”
Percat said he could be away from home for “a couple of months” but has no definitive end date amid changes to restrictions.
The 31-year-old said he’s fortunate he can base himself out of Albury and train with team-mate Macauley Jones.
While he’s bought his kart with him too, the closest track to Albury lies on the Victorian side of the border in Wodonga.
“I’ve got all my training kit, Heath (Meldrum) has written me a programme for when I’m away when I’m not training with him one-on-one,” said Percat.
“The good thing here is that a lot of things are open. I can go swimming, do all my runs. Macauley loves his fitness and training. It’ll be good.
“It definitely spices things up. If there is any reason or a good time to drive for BJR it’s right now. I’ve come up here and it’s all normal. I’m not trapped in a hotel. It’s alright.”
Percat paid tribute to the other teams affected by the move, especially those who had to relocate to hotels in Sydney.
“All the Victorian teams that have relocated to Sydney into a hotel, full credit to them,” he said.
“Just doing what I’ve done is big enough, but what they’ve done is huge. It’s a credit to all of them that they’ve just jumped in a car or on a plane and are doing it.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship returns with the Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint on July 18-19.