BY NOW people reading this website should be well aware of the journey Scott McLaughlin took to come to this point in his still young life.
For starters he was the youngest to ever race a Supercar.
A Development Series champion after just a few years on the scene.
That moment when he got the call up to fill in for an ill Alex Premat in Sydney, making his solo debut on a tough street circuit and acquitting himself superbly.
The famous ‘Jandal’ moment in Adelaide when he showed no fear in putting his Volvo where no one thought it would be – up the inside of the champion, Whincup.
The swearing on live, national television that followed.
The coming of age with GRM’s fast Volvo and the first real signs that he would definitely be a champion of the future.
The enormous life decision to leave the comfortable surrounds of Garry Rogers’ team and take a gamble with the to-that-point unsuccessful DJR Team Penske.
The fun banter on social media when he ‘lost’ his teammate after No. 17 failed at Bathurst last year.
The utter domination of qualifying for two seasons now.
The heartbreak in his eyes when the championship was ripped from him last year.
And, of course, the way he rebounded so magnificently this season.
These moments and many more are the makings of our new Supercars Champion.
Motorsport exists to crown champions: they are the ultimate exponent of what the sport is all about – going as quickly as you can to cover a given distance in the shortest amount of time or in the fastest way possible.
Motorsport is about pushing the limits and being crowed a champion means you’ve pushed them more than your nearest rivals.
Champions are great because of that – they are often on a slightly different level and it explains why so few are able to climb that mountain and so many fall agonisingly short.
It’s also the reason why champions are so important. A ‘good champion’, whatever that may be, represents the sport for the next twelve months. They are the poster-boy of the series; the basis on which all the promotions and marketing are invested and, of course, the target for everyone else to beat.
If the champion is not up to the job of carrying that load then the whole sport suffers.
It’s a rarity, these days, because the commercial interests and media demands are so heavy that most who reach the highest level are at the very worst adequate performers when it comes to fulfilling their duties as king of the castle.
In Scott McLaughlin, though, I feel like we will have an outstanding ambassador as king.
The young Kiwi who celebrated on Sunday may be slightly more reserved and.. contained than he was when he was driving a Volvo, but not far beneath the Penske polish remains a 25-year-old kid living his dreams – with all the personality that goes with it.
In the space of 24 hours we saw so much of Scott McLaughlin that covered so many aspects of what makes a truly great champion.
His admission of ‘freaking out’ before the final race resonated with many who have felt pressure before a potentially huge life moment.
His breathless interview on the FOX Sports’ panel post-race on Sunday showcased his incredulity that he had actually done it. It was honest, emotional and raw joy – and almost disbelief. You could see how much it meant.
Then, less than a day later, filling the championship trophy with 40 Chicken McNuggets showcased the fun to be had when you know you’re the best. Who hasn’t dreamed of doing that, I ask you?
Later that night, all polished, suited and booted and with his fiancé’ by his side, he was the clean-cut Penske driver who spoke eloquently and with passion about what he and his team had achieved.
Professional, fun, relaxed, passionate, intense and emotional all in the space of what I imagine he would call a ‘pretty mad’ 24 hours.
But everything you want a great ambassador for your sport to be because all at once he is a total pro yet totally relatable to the everyman on the street, too.
Scott McLaughlin will be a sensational champion of motorsport in this part of the world for the next 12 Months and will unquestionably do great things for the positive image and promotion of our game.
A good result for so many, indeed.