Noisy internship to hand V8 team an edge

Queensland students Shannon Chilman and Sam Parker packed earplugs for their internship assignment – supercharging Australia’s top V8 Supercars team with exercise science muscle.

In a first for the V8 category, Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology students from ACU’s School of Behavioural and Health Sciences will provide evidence-based health guidance for the Brisbane-based Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s pit crew and drivers.

The unique professional practical placement will immerse the two interns in the rumbling inner workings of the outfit behind champion drivers Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen at the team which has won six of the past nine Supercars Championships.

“This is an incredibly amazing experience,” Ms Chilman (right) said. “The facilities they have here are top notch and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Both Ms Chilman and Ms Parker’s careers were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Ms Chilman was temporarily sidelined from a personal training role, while Ms Parker was affected by redundancies in the high-performance sport industry.

Now that sport in Queensland is once again revving, opportunities are opening for clinically trained health graduates.

A former competitive Irish dancer from the United States, Ms Chilman saw the internship as a chance to apply her own experience and training. “I was always getting injured so I’m fascinated by how the body heals and how it can perform,” the budding clinical exercise physiologist said.  

 “I’ve always been around the fitness industry but it’s my mission to get into the clinical side. I want to help people, to get them to connect with their bodies.” 

Ms Parker completed her undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at ACU and is now on the way to her masters qualification. “I was always the sporty kid. I wasn’t elite but it was always something I was interested in,” she said.  

“The set-up here at Red Bull is very professional. Everyone exudes high performance and it’s somewhere I could see myself working.”

As part of the research partnership between ACU and Red Bull, crew chief Kris Goos and his team have already participated in fitness testing and movement analysis at the Brisbane campus’s Exercise Lifestyle Clinic and in the biomechanics lab. The experienced wheel man believes he now has the sport science oomph to gain an edge over the field.

The lab’s motion capture technology and support from the interns could deliver strategies to make Goos’s performance safer, faster and more efficient when handling 22kg wheels and 6.5kg rattle guns.

“It’s going to be a massive deal for us,” he said. “With the changes in the rules due to COVID-19 restrictions and short turnarounds, we will take a hundredth-of-a-second. We should be able to shave tenths-of-seconds out of this easy, just by having everyone on the right level.”

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