Secret lives of staff: ‘on the track, everything else just disappears’

WSLHD Chief Digital Officer Barry Mather says he loves the adrenaline rush of motorsports.

The Targa Tasmania is described as a ‘red-blooded’ motorsport event.

In April drivers will compete over a 2000 kilometre course across 40 stages, with around 300 cars and their crews taking part.

And what better way to say ‘I love you’ than taking your girl for a spin in the Targa?

“I’m teaching my partner to race – she’s never raced before but has started with skid pans and track day tuition.”

That is the plan according to Barry Mather, the recently appointed Chief Digital Health Officer for the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

“We’ve been planning on doing the Targa High Country and Targa Tasmania – she’ll be my navigator,” Barry told The Pulse.

Barry and his partner Jess have been training for the Targa, with the High Country event getting underway in November at Mt Buller.

Barry says he does his own engineering on his racing car.

“The racing I predominantly do is super sprints, which is on track at the same time as 10 or 12 other cars, but you are racing against the clock, not against other people,” he said.

After more than three years as the chief information officer at the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, Barry moved to Sydney, where he has continued his love of motorsport in his Lotus.

“The kind of racing I do is gentlemen’s motorsport, it’s not rubbing doors with each other,” he said.

“I’ve done 250 kilometres an hour at Bathurst … never crashed but have certainly spun off track into gravel traps.”

Working out of Cumberland Hospital, Barry is in charge of the Digital Health Solutions team, managing the entirety of information technology functions across the WSLHD.

And while he is handy with a hard drive, he is also a pretty good motorsport engineer.

“Because I do my own engineering it’s very much a feeling of accomplishment to build your own car and race it,” he said.

“I’ve done a number of engine conversions in this car to make it faster – complete suspension settings and upgrades – and when you go out and you’re faster because of the work that you’ve done, that is something of an accomplishment.”

Barry says he is currently preparing for the Targa which is coming up next month.

Barry started racing around 10 years ago, taking part in super sprint events across the winter months.

“So it’s all about achieving the best lap time you possibly can,” he said.

“Yes, it’s speed, but it’s safe speed.”

Barry races under the auspices of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).

It is a sport which is accessible to pretty much anyone with an interest in tarmac racing.

“It’s very easy – you turn up to a track, you book in and book some tuition,” he said.

“You don’t need a race car to have fun on track, there are plenty of ‘normal’ road cars that I race with.

“Eighty per cent of racing is hanging out with your mates, 20 per cent is on-track racing.

“There’s a very good social aspect to racing.”

Barry says he loves the social aspect of motorsports.

He has raced in the Victorian six hour at Phillip Island, a relay event with five or six drivers per team.

“You race for 30 to 40 minutes then you come in – the next person goes out for 30, 40 minutes, then you rotate around that group,” he said.

When he is not racing in the super sprints, he’s participating in regularity events or the Targas.

“It’s certainly something that is very time consuming in the preparation of the car, the upgrades and getting it all set up,” he told The Pulse.

“I do my own engineering and all car prep and set up, and then getting out on track is probably 30 per cent of the overall amount of time that’s needed to get the car prepared, and get it safe and fast.

“The relaxation on track, where everything else disappears, there’s nothing else that matters, there’s nothing else that is running through your mind at all, it’s about the next corner and how quickly you can get through it.”

Barry likes to quote Hollywood legend and motorsport enthusiast Steve McQueen.

“Racing is life, everything else is just waiting,” McQueen once said.

Barry: “Everything you do in life is leading up to the next race, the next track.

“It’s not quite how I live, but not far off.”