Settling down for retirement has a different meaning when it follows a long career piloting some of the world’s fastest cars on some of its most iconic racetracks. Make no mistake – adrenaline is a habit that can be hard to kick. For former professional driver Mark Webber, settling down is more like weaning off, and his therapy of choice is exploring the lush rainforest around his Noosa home aboard his custom Project One Top Fuel. It’s no surprise that an adrenaline junkie like Mark would seek both thrills and time to chill in retirement. It’s these competing visions of life after racing that prompted Mark’s love affair with mountain biking, a sport that’s as much about taking risks and pushing limits as it is about taking the time to explore new surroundings and feeling connected to the natural world. We sat down with Mark outside his home in Noosa to discuss his retirement from racing, his passion for mountain biking and what he loves most about his one-of-a-kind Project One Top Fuel.
Today, Mark looks at ease amongst the palms that surround his sprawling Noosaville home. His home base in this sleepy resort town is the perfect launching pad from which to explore the surrounding bush. Though he considers himself a country boy at heart, Mark didn’t have this kind of immediate access to lush rainforest trails when growing up in Queanbeyan, NSW. It’s one of the luxuries that his incredibly successful racing career has afforded him. Mark has always loved the competition and intensity of racing, and he rose through the ranks of Australian karting in his teens to eventually reach the pinnacle of motor sport by age 26. Mark spent 11 years racing Formula One, where he earned 9 wins and 42 podiums in 215 races. He has raced the iconic 24 hours of Le Mans four times, finishing second in 2015, and he capped his career by winning the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015. It's safe to say he's not the type to slowly fade away.His introduction to mountain biking came amid this massively successful time in his career, as Mark found it to be ideal cross training for the rigours of endurance auto racing. The trail provided the perfect venue to replicate the focus and concentration required on the racing track with the additional bonus of fulfilling Mark’s need to get outdoors and connect with nature. The connection between motor sports and mountain biking today extends to the equipment, and Mark is keen to emphasise that the correlation in technology between bikes and cars has never been closer. Indeed, Trek has partnered with Penske – the leading manufacturer of custom motor sport race suspension – in the development of our own suspension technologies.
Our commitment to developing the most cutting-edge technology is a large part of what drove Mark to both Trek and Project One, Trek’s custom bike programme. Racing car drivers rely on the performance of their equipment to carry them to victory, so it’s no surprise that Mark places a premium on reliability and partnering with brands with a track record as established as his own. Though he grew up just down the road from Trek’s Australian headquarters in Canberra, it wasn’t until he visited his local retailer in Noosa, with his wife and close friends, that he saw how buying a bike from an established brand could be an intimate experience. Ultimately, Mark found his new ride through Project One, Trek’s custom bike programme that gives every rider the freedom to design and build the bike of their dreams. Project One, Mark discovered, was a whole lot more than striking paint schemes. At its essence, the programme is about creating a connection between rider and machine that goes a step further than 'your favourite bike ever'.Even for someone like Mark, whose style and preferences have played a role in the design of countless race cars, creating his bike through Project One was a deeply personal experience. In the end, Project One painters have a single purpose: to apply their artistry to your unique vision. It’s a relationship that they take seriously, and you don’t have to be Mark Webber to get this special treatment.As Mark is quick to point out, the process is incredibly personal, but not overly complicated. He warns that the website is 'massively user-friendly, which can be dangerous', but enjoyed the extra help of employees from his local retailer in selecting the best components for his style of riding.
However you choose to explore Project One, the process is simple and the options are limitless. Once you’ve selected your model, there are thousands of colours and design schemes to choose from. It’s not all about looks, though, so you’ll also select the components of your choosing and spec every detail to your exact preference. As a fan of riding hot laps through the bush, Mark naturally opted for Top Fuel. Seeking a paint scheme that honoured his country and reminded him of its most inspiring landscapes, the bike features a Eucalyptus Grey and Orange paint scheme reminiscent of the Outback and Ayer’s Rock. It’s a real beauty. What will you create with the help of the dedicated artists at Project One? Learn more about the programme at trekbikes.com or your local Trek retailer and begin building the bike of your dreams today.