Australian racing star’s Chevrolet Camaro wrecked by joyriding mechanic

Posted on July 9, 2024Comments Off on Australian racing star’s Chevrolet Camaro wrecked by joyriding mechanic

A high-performance Chevrolet Camaro owned by an Australian racing driver has been wrecked in the US, after a dealership service adviser took the pony car on a high-speed joy ride.

As reported by Automotive News, Australian-born Kenny Habul – who won the 2022 and 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour GT3 endurance races with his SunEnergy1 team – had his 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE towed to a dealership in Darien, Connecticut as it wouldn’t start.

With just 989 miles (1592km) from track driving on its odometer, Mr Habul allegedly provided the simple instruction that “under no circumstances was any employee to take the vehicle off the lot”.

However, the dealership’s service adviser Matthew Sebastian ignored Mr Habul and his boss’s instructions, taking the supercharged 6.2-litre V8-powered pony car for a drive along with an employee on the nearby Interstate 95 highway.

According to a negligence and recklessness suit lawsuit filed by Mr Habul, the service adviser was travelling at 70mph (113km/h) when he “gunned the engine and lost control of the high-performance vehicle he should not have been driving”.

With 485kW and 881Nm on tap, the rear wheels broke traction at 89mph (143km/h), sending the car into a guardrail.

The Camaro’s data recorder also reportedly showed that Mr Sebastian wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred, though he was fortunate to avoid injury.

The same couldn’t be said for the Camaro, which was assessed as a write-off with a value of US$97,000 (A$143,830). 

Mr Habul’s lawsuit reportedly claims Mr Sebastian’s behaviour was “deliberate and reckless” as well as “highly unreasonable conduct”, adding the service adviser should have known the Camaro should have only been handled by a “highly experienced driver who is capable and knowledgeable about the car’s capabilities and dangers”.

The expat businessman – who owns a house on Mount Panorama’s famous Conrod Straight and Peter Brock’s final Bathurst 1000-winning Holden Commodore – is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the dealership, which he claims didn’t properly supervise “the simple task of diagnosing and repairing a broken clutch switch”.

Mr Sebastian was issued a ticket by police for failing to stay in his lane on the interstate. It’s not known if he still holds his job at the dealership.