McLaughlin reveals cheeky white lie

Andrew van Leeuwen

The Supercars star was introduced to New York native Karly Paone during the Las Vegas Karting SuperNationals back in 2016, sparking a romance that ultimately led to the pair marrying in California late last year.

However their relationship didn't get off to the most honest start.

In a video for sponsor Thirsty Camel, McLaughlin has now revealed that he initially told Paone that he worked as a mechanic, rather than admitting that he was already one of Australia's top racing drivers.

The ruse only lasted a couple of days before McLaughlin, who was about to switch from Garry Rogers Motorsport to DJR Team Penske, was undone by his social media presence.

"It was about two days later when she followed me on Instagram and noticed that this mechanic had, like, 50,000-odd followers. I think she clued on then," he told Motorsport.com.

"One thing that I really struggle with is explaining what I do for a living without feeling like a flog.

"I just say I'm a mechanic. That's not just something I said to Karly, I say it to a lot of people.

"If I'm playing golf, for example, and someone asks – 'yeah mate I'm a mechanic, I just work on cars'. Everyone knows what a mechanic is and it's not all that interesting, so you can just get on with your life.

"I finished a fabrication apprenticeship [at GRM], so I probably should say I'm a fabricator. But that's another one that's hard to explain."

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Even after learning what McLaughlin really does for a living, it wasn't until she first came to a Supercars race that she was properly exposed to his celebrity status.

"Karly came to Phillip Island in 2017, that was her first race," McLaughlin said.

"She still didn't really realise how big it was until we came into the track and she saw my face on some merchandise boards, and then I had autograph sessions, and she kind of flipped out.

"But it's good. We met each other without having to worry about those bits and pieces, you know, or someone trying to take you for a ride. It was very genuine."

The pair are currently based in Brisbane, Australia, however McLaughlin has made no secret of his desire to make a US career move.

He was set for some cameo IndyCar appearances this season ahead of a potential switch for 2021, however those plans have been at least temporarily derailed by the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.