It’s been 2078 days between Renee Gracie’s last race in 2017 and her long-awaited return to the track.
The two-time Bathurst 1000 starter who turned to an adult film career on subscription service OnlyFans admits her comeback hasn’t been completely smooth sailing.
Her return by way of the GT World Challenge Australia sports car series has come with one major hurdle.
Watch Renee Gracie in GT World Challenge Australia at SpeedSeries round three at Phillip Island (May 13-14). All the action streaming ad free, live and on demand
The first-generation Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT3 that she races is one of the oldest cars on the grid, a good 10 years older than some of the cars her opponents race.
GT racing is famed for its “race within a race” format whereby cars compete in different classes.
In GT World Challenge Australia there are three major classes – ‘Pro-Am’ and ‘Am’; for the fastest cars and ‘Trophy’ for cars that aren’t considered current.
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Gracie is taking her high-speed return somewhat slowly, opting to run an older car rather than go head-first into a brand-new GT racer.
That’s been difficult to explain to new and existing fans who might have only watched her in Supercars where every driver plays for the same trophy with effectively the same cars.
She also bemoaned a lack of TV coverage at the first round, with cameras fixated largely on the battle in the top class.
She’s not afraid to sugercoat it, however, and says she’s believes there was a directive at the first event not to show her on the broadcast given her controversial career choice.
“The commentators generally explain the categories and what’s going on and they explain that and because I didn’t get that TV time and I didn’t get that fair and equal treatment,” Gracie told Wide World of Sports.
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“I feel like fans were sort of misled in a way because they weren’t being educated. When you’re getting spoken about on TV, a huge part and a huge portion of that is education and knowledge that the commentators have that they can sort of hand out to the viewers.
“Not having that I guess made me realise that we actually have to now go to extra levels and extra lengths to do that work because I’m not getting shown, I’m not getting spoken about, I’m not getting talked about on TV so people aren’t learning and understanding what’s happening.
“So that is one thing that we’re gonna work on for the rest of the year now knowing that that’s obviously gonna be an issue for some rounds is just educating people a little bit more because they’re not getting the education when they’re watching.
“In regards to how the GT category works, my category versus the others, I’m not like the guys at the front, I’m not in the same car as them. Unfortunately, I’m not gonna be up there with them.
“Explaining that and breaking that down and getting that message across (is important) I think so people can start to understand and learn and be educated into what they’re watching.
“Not a lot of people know. A lot of people have watched Supercars and they know me from Supercars and they’re coming across to watch me and GT. A lot of people are fans of mine didn’t even know that I raced and are watching out of pure interest. So I think the educational side of things is definitely something that we’re focusing on from here on in.”
It won’t be forever though, she said.
Plans are already in the pipeline to acquire a new car that would put her on an even playing field with her rivals.
In any case, it’s not a cheap exercise. A new GT3 car costs roughly $700,000 depending on the manufacturer.
“I think Perth was such a good weekend, we were all so excited it was already like ‘Oh, what cars are available? What have we got? What’s the go for next year?’
“I think we’ve gotta stay in the Trophy Series this year. I’m really happy with where I am. I really need to get my confidence back up. I need to get track time again. I need to get experience at these tracks again.
“I also need to get used to doing these 60 minutes races by myself. I need to just get the season under my belt before we move on and we make plans to go elsewhere and to move up into other cars and categories.
“Normally in motorsport – this is what always happens – you get confident. In my previous history, we always make a move too soon, so I’m not making those mistakes again.
“We’re happy in Trophy at the moment, we’re happy where we are, but the talks for next year are getting in a newer car and a quicker car are already happening.”
Gracie will star in a new Stan Originals documentary, which will follow her return to racing.
Round three of GT World Challenge Australia forms part of the SpeedSeries program at Phillip Island on May 12-14.
Race one gets underway at 12:55pm on Saturday with race two on Sunday at 12:50pm.
Stan Sport will carry live, ad-free coverage of the weekend’s racing with 9Gem broadcasting three hours of free-to-air coverage from 2pm on Saturday.
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