Micro Sprint Racing in Australia
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to race across the pond? For me, it was quite the experience. Though we have several similarities in the U.S., there are many things that are different when it comes to racing in Australia!
One of the first and most noticeable differences for me was the tracks. For micro sprint racing specifically, the tracks I competed on were quite a bit larger! In the Land of Oz, micro sprints are not necessarily a main attraction, so we are typically supporting other classes. I found that it was more like micro sprints going to venues that would allow them to race rather than having venues built primarily for micro racing.
Almost every track I was on had larger vehicles that would compete on the same night. This was never a bad thing it just presented many new challenges. One major challenge was the track conditions. The bigger heavier cars that raced the same night would often create holes or rough spots in the track. This made racing tricky because our little cars were very fast on the larger tracks and the rough conditions made the car difficult to hang onto.
The size of the tracks in general also presented a challenge because it made starts and restarts much more critical to having success in the race. We all pretty much held the throttle wide open on the big tracks, so the guy that gets out front early usually had the advantage over the rest of the field. It was very important to be as smooth and as straight as possible when racing because the slightest bobble was detrimental for track position.
Rules were different from the U.S. as well. For starters, to be eligible to race in Australia one must get a Speedway Australia license. In order to get a license you must get a physical from your physician, and pass a series of exams; such as vision and coordination with a required minimum score. You also have to pass a drug screen to get your license as well, which is a good rule to be implemented.
Once licensed and attending an event, there are a series of inspections that have to happen prior to being able to race. They have an appointed “scrutineer” that will come inspect all safety equipment, look over your race car thoroughly, and give you a breath test for alcohol. Once all of those checks are cleared, every racer is required to keep a log book that these checks get logged in by the scrutineer, which then gets signed and dated for each race meeting.
After the inspection you must present your log book and license at driver registration to be approved to race that event. Once registered for the event, all participants are subject to random drug testing at any time throughout the duration of the event. I felt that these were important rules to have because it shows that the organizers take driver safety very serious. It made me feel as if I was taken care of by the folks who were running the series. Aside from the heightened safety measures that were taken in Australia, I didn’t feel like there were many differences in rules otherwise. Car specifications were very similar to what we are used to in the States.
Race format was interesting to say the least, but as the seven race series pressed on I found that I appreciated the effectiveness and simplicity of their race format. It was quite easy really, and I will relate it to golf. The lowest score come feature time starts in the best position. What we did was draw for our starting spot in our first heat. Then we would run a second heat that was inverted by row front to back. We would race the second heat with all of the same cars from our row in the first heat, but we would get a different set of cars from another heat to race with the second go around and we would also swap sides.
For example, if I started in the last row inside in my first heat I would go to my second heat with everyone who was on the inside row with me in the first heat. We all would be moved to the outside row of our second heat and inverted from front to back, so my new starting position would be front row outside for heat two. With our heats we were given on point per finishing position, so first were awarded one point, and second were awarded two and so on. After two heats the features were lined up from lowest score to highest score. This made it very easy to figure out where about you would be starting and it was efficient for the scorers to figure out. This is a format I feel we could adopt at some of our events here to not only speed events up, but to also reduce confusion amongst competitors.
Some of the exciting things about being down there outside of racing were being able to see different wildlife, and being embedded into a whole different culture. Kangaroos were everywhere at night, koala bears wear hanging out in the trees, and emu’s were walking around in the open like it was where they were supposed to be. Nearly every human we encountered was friendly and welcoming, and seemingly proud to have us be a part of their world for a brief period in time. It was as if we were made to feel at home away from home.
Seeing the countryside and enjoying the weather were also among some of my favorite parts of the journey. Being that it was the dead of winter at home, we were spoiled to have hot sunny days, and warm nights during our entire stay. I do have to say I felt like the food there was much healthier than here in the States and we had many amazing “feeds”, as the Aussie’s would say.
I also fell in love with a soft drink called Lemon Lime and Bitters brewed by Bundaberg Brewing Company in Australia, so much that I imported several cases when I got home. People called me crazy for doing it, but I couldn’t help myself. Once I discovered it, I drank it every day while I was there. I spent the majority of my stay racing in Victoria, AU so we were on the southern coast of the country. Needless to say, it is beautiful there.
All in all this was an experience of a lifetime. My heart is forever bigger because I was blessed with an opportunity to check a dream off my bucket list. I got to race in Australia! I came home with wonderful memories I shared with my father that we will cherish forever. We made dozens of new friends that we will stay in touch with for a lifetime, and we left as champions on foreign soil. I am very proud of what we accomplished and look forward to having another opportunity to do it again some day!