When he isn't racing, Queensland driver Chris Gilmour will usually be found trying to sell houses in suburban Brisbane and beyond but, after spending the past several years establishing his own real estate firm with great success, the entrepreneur has decided now is the time to make a return to a similarly competitive atmosphere on the race track.
Next weekend, he will trade his usual attire of a business shirt and tie for some nomex and a helmet as he makes a return to the F3 Australian Drivers Championship with some new wheels.
Gilmour, the 2008 F3 National Class champion and 2004 outright runner-up, will return to the senior class at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit behind the wheel of a recently-purchased, ex-Fortec Racing, Dallara F307 Mercedes. The vehicle, brought into the country by Queensland sportscar racer Steve Morcombe, was driven by Greg and Leo Mansell - sons of F1 world champion Nigel - during its time in British F3 before being imported to Australia in 2008.
Gilmour Racing, headed by Chris' father Errol, purchased the car recently and has spent time thoroughly preparing it for its return to the track next weekend.
“I haven't even turned a lap in it yet,” Gilmour admitted, “but I can't wait to get in it. It will be good to get back behind the wheel after a long break. It's been seven months since I was behind the wheel and that didn't end very well with a big crash at Oran Park. We have only just finished going over every single nut and bolt and making sure that our flawless record of no mechanical breakdowns remains intact.”
The team has forged a relationship with the top British F3 winning Fortec squad, drawing on the teams' wealth of information – and the support of former Scud Racing mechanic Terry Stott, now based with Fortec in the UK – to assist their programme this year.
“It might take a race or two to get a grip on the car, but I see no reason why this can't be the package to return Gilmour Racing to the top of the results sheet in F3 racing,” Gilmour said.
Should he start all three races at Phillip Island, the #17 driver will also rack up an impressive feat – his 90th championship race start. The laconic Gilmour made his F3 debut in 2003 driving a 1996 Dallara, before upgrading to an F301 car the following season and narrowly missing out on the outright title by a handful of points, to Karl Reindler. He has since remained faithful to Australian F3, deciding to compete where he could derive the most enjoyment from the sport.
“The bottom line is that these cars are the best to drive in the country, so I'm going to keep driving them,” Gilmour said, “I hadn't realised that I was anywhere near making 90 starts – so 100 has to be my aim now! I'm just pleased to be back in the seat and doing it at Phillip Island, my favourite track. It should be pretty awesome.”
Gilmour Racing's strikingly-liveried F307 will be supported by All Properties Group at Phillip Island.