Team 18 owner Charlie Schwerkolt wants to take DEWALT® Racing to the top of the Supercars championship ladder. With Scott Pye behind the wheel and a solid support team in place, all the ingredients are there for more podium appearances in 2021.
By Shane Conroy
As a teenaged Charlie Schwerkolt tore around the track at Oakleigh Go-Kart Club, he never dreamed that a few decades later he would own his own Supercars racing team.
Even as he watched racing legends like Peter Brock and Allan Moffat battle it out at Sandown—just a short distance from his childhood home—the young Schwerkolt could not have imagined that he’d one day return to the track as the founder and owner of Team 18.
Schwerkolt’s own driving career was somewhat short lived. A top-five finish at a national go-karting championship in his teens wasn’t enough to keep him in the sport. Instead, he took the opportunity to join his father’s forklift business. He began as an apprentice mechanic in the mid 70s.
By the late 80s, Schwerkolt had taken over Waverley Forklifts from his father. He has since built the company into a major national forklift rental company.
A Chance Encounter
But the racetrack would eventually lure Schwerkolt back. It was a chance encounter with Australian motorsport icon Dick Johnson that was the catalyst for Schwerkolt’s entry into professional racing.
“Many years ago I used to go to motorsport events with a group of mates,” he says. “One year we chartered a little plane out to Winton. There were a couple of spare seats on the plane, and we heard that Dick Johnson was looking for a ride back.
So I found myself sitting next to Dick Johnson on this little charter plane.” By the time the plane landed, Schwerkolt had closed his first sponsorship deal with Dick Johnson Racing.
A few years later he purchased an ownership stake in the team and took up a role as CEO and managing director of Dick Johnson Racing.
With Schwerkolt at the helm, Dick Johnson Racing took out the 2010 Supercars championship. And despite ending his relationship with the team following the 2010 campaign, he looks back on that achievement fondly.
“Supercars is a very exciting, very demanding high-performance environment, and our job is to win,” he says. “It’s a major milestone to win a championship, and the 2010 win was one of the most exciting championship finishes in the history of the sport.”
The Real Deal
Schwerkolt still owns the 2010 championship car, but he’s too busy with Team 18 to spend too much time looking back. He started the team in 2016 with a single car, and added a second car—under the DEWALT® Racing banner—in 2020.
“Last year was very positive,” he says. “We had three podiums in the DEWALT® car, the DEWALT® car finished the championship in overall ninth, and the Irwin car finished 10th. To get both cars in the top 10 is something I’m really proud of. There were only two other teams that did that, and they’ve both been around a lot longer than Team 18.”
But Schwerkolt is looking to improve on that in 2021. With Scott Pye behind the wheel of the DEWALT® car again, he wants to push the team further up the championship ladder this year.
“To start the team from scratch, we had to build solid foundations and that is a massive job. If you want solid foundations, you have to find solid people, and that takes time. Today I’ll say we have one of the best team cultures in pit lane.”
Schwerkolt says DEWALT® car driver Scott Pye will be a key ingredient of the team’s success in 2021. “We needed the right person to represent the brand, and we looked hard and wide. Scott is very good at speaking and doing everything right for all the sponsors on the car. And he can certainly drive. He’s known for his passing moves and is exciting to watch. For him to win a British Formula Ford Championship is no mean feat. He has the skills to take us all the way. He’s the real deal.”
Naming rights sponsor DEWALT® is also right behind Pye and the team in 2021.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Scott push the boundaries on the racetrack as well as some more podiums,” says Daniel Keyes, brand director at Stanley Black & Decker—DEWALT®’s parent company.
“We were delighted to take the opportunity of naming rights sponsor on the Team 18 second car. DEWALT® is dedicated to bringing the most advanced tools to professional trades people. The DEWALT® Racing sponsorship alignment with Team 18 will give DEWALT® the chance to activate on and around the track, and at our retailers in the lead up to the race events which will allow us to engage with our end user.”
As for Schwerkolt, he’s happy to record a win at any track. But there are a few tracks that a top-of-the-podium finish would hold extra personal significance.
“Of course, the iconic track is Bathurst. I also love going down to Tassie. That track has a couple of very tight corners and then a drag strip, so it’s about who’s got the best breaks and the most horsepower to win there. But growing up near Sandown, a win there would be pretty special.”