KELLY BROTHERS SPEED UP BATHURST PREPARATIONS WITH F/A-18 HORNET FLIGHTS

Jack Daniel's Racing drivers Todd and Rick Kelly have taken their preparations for next week's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 over the speed of sound.

The brothers have been thrilled with flights in two F/A-18 Hornets courtesy of the Royal Australian Air Force based at Williamtown near Newcastle, New South Wales.

In return, Todd and Rick Kelly took members of Number 2 Operational Conversion Unit, a Fighter Combat Instructor unit that is Australia's equivalent 'Top Gun' and is also responsible for training fighter jet pilots, for high speed rides in their Jack Daniel's Holden Commodores.

The Kelly brothers are both familiar with flying, with Rick taking the controls of a stunt helicopter in Austria earlier this year while Todd actually flew the group up to Newcastle for the day in his Piper Chiefton aircraft.

But the experience of the F/A-18 Hornets was like nothing the pair has ever experienced, both on the race track or in the air.

"I don't know whether to laugh or cry to be honest, it's like nothing else," said dual Bathurst winner Rick Kelly.

"It's out of this world. I've always wanted to go in a fighter jet and it's completely different to what you expect. My body can't handle that sort of stuff. I'm not used to it and you start to feel queasy pretty quickly.

"It was everything I expected and more. I might fly a bit but I wouldn't call myself a pilot after witnessing that. Some of the maneuvers we pulled were just so impressive.

"The acceleration that the thing has got is quite incredible. We went over the speed of sound, which is something I've always wanted to do so for me it was quite exciting."

Todd Kelly, winner of the 2005 Bathurst 1000, experienced quite a different flight to what he is used to in his own plane, breaking the speed of sound and pulling 6.5G while completing air combat maneuvering and low altitude passes.

"I don't even know what to say, I'm still wobbling around," said Todd Kelly.

"Just to feel how sharp it is and how smooth it is when it goes through clouds. Even when you are going extremely fast you can hardly even hear the engines. It's an amazing bit of equipment.

"It's unbelievable how the thing turns and just goes 'bang' and pushes you into the seat. Everything starts to go a little bit black towards the end of a turn.

"It's just insane what these things can do. I expected it to be pretty special but it just blew me away.

"You get out of a V8 Supercar half-buggered after a race, but I'm more worn out just being a passenger in that thing with the G loading."

While Todd and Rick Kelly may have been left slightly worse for wear following the hour-long sortie, their pilots, Squadron Leader Jordon 'Junior' Sander and Flight Lieutenant Nicholas 'Finchy' Finch, were pleased with how the Bathurst-winning brothers held up on the flight.

"I eventually convinced Todd to let me pull a bit more and we gradually got up to about 6.5G, so well done to him," said Squadron Leader Sander.

"He felt a bit queasy after we did it but he held his breakfast in so he did a good job."

While the 635-horsepower V8 Supercars may have been no match for the 14,516 kg of thrust from the F/A-18 Hornets, it was still a buzz for the pilots to ride in the Jack Daniel's Commodores.

"The ride was great," said Flight Lieutenant Finch.

"I hopped into the car and it reminded me of hopping into the jet, strapped into the seat really tight, you can smell the fuel and it's really noisy.

"I am a car fan myself. I actually have a Subaru WRX that I race in the NSW Hillclimb Championship. So motorsport is something I like doing and it's a great opportunity to hop into a V8 and go for a fang.

"You can see them working hard just trying to drive around with the back end stepping out. I've got a lot of respect for them.

"I will be watching Bathurst from home so hopefully the Kelly brothers do well next weekend."

The Kelly brothers will now refocus as they turn attention to next week's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

"Our chances at Bathurst should be pretty good," said Rick Kelly.

"On the trip up here in Todd's plane we watched vision from last year the whole way. The team has put a lot of work in for it as well.

"We don't go there expecting to easily win it but we are doing everything we can to win it. If the team and drivers all do a good job we can certainly win it."

Todd Kelly sees the daunting Mount Panorama circuit as a venue that suits the Jack Daniel's Commodores.

"We traditionally go well at Bathurst and the track suits our cars so we can't wait to get up there," said Todd Kelly.

"Rick and I are in separate cars so there will be a lot of competition between us. We've done everything we can to prepare our Jack Daniel's Commodores well for Bathurst."

Before Jack Daniel's Racing hits Mount Panorama for this year's Great Race, the team will host its annual Open Day this Sunday from 10am, which will this year double as a send off party for the boys' annual Bathurst road trip.

"I'd encourage all the fans to come to Kelly Racing this Sunday to have a look around," said Rick Kelly.

"I think our fans will be pleasantly surprised by the beast we've picked up for the 2010 road trip. It might be our best one yet!"

Entry is by gold coin donation with proceeds going to Very Special Kids, the official charity of Kelly Racing for 2010.

FAST MACHINES - Stats Comparison:

Jack Daniel's Holden Commodore VE II V8 Supercar

Engine: 5.0-litre Holden Motorsport fuel injected V8
Power: 635 horsepower to maximum 7,500 RPM
Dimensions: 4.9 metres length, 1.2 m height, 1.8m width
Weight: 1355 kg (without driver)
Top Speed: 301 km/h
Range: 150 km (without pit stop)
Ceiling: nil
Weapons: Front bumper bar, four doors
Electronics:
- MoTeC engine management system
- MoTeC LCD data display

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet ^a

Engine: Two low-bypass F404-GE-400 turbofans
Power: 7,258 kg thrust per engine (14,516 kg total)
Dimensions: 17.1 metres length, 4.7m height, 12.4m wingspan
Weight: 10,660 kg basic, 20,412 kg maximum load
Top Speed: Mach 1.8 (2,200 km/h)
Range: 2,700 km (without mid-air refueling)
Ceiling: 45,000 feet
Weapons:
- AIM-120 AMRAAM active radar guided missiles
- AIM-132 ASRAAM
- Harpoon anti-ship missiles
- conventional and laser-guided bombs
- M61 20mm nose-mounted cannon

Avionics:
- Hughes APG73 multi-mode radar
- GPS
- inertial navigation system
- VHF omni-directional range/instrument landing system
- two mission computers
- head-up cockpit display
- multi-functional LCD displays

-source: kelly racing