Lamattina passion from Junior Dragster to Top Fuel

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Top Fuel drag racer Phil Lamattina knows what it is like to be an Australian champion and one of the fastest men in the country, but it is watching his son grow into a racer in his own right that is making him proudest.

Eight year old Rocky Lamattina has been driving a Junior Dragster this season, a small scale version of the dragster his dad drives. Already he has enjoyed some success, reaching the quarter finals of the Nitro Champs at Sydney Dragway earlier this month.

Phil, a carrot farmer from Mildura, Victoria, said he felt proud to watch Rocky take to the drag strip.

“It keeps you busier on a race weekend than you already are but it keeps you grounded,” he said. “It is good for the sport to have drivers competing in the professional levels be able to spend time with their kids and watch them race.

“There’s nothing better than watching kids progress and evolve and I suppose mature as time goes by. You’re watching them grow up.”

Phil has many event victories to his name in Top Fuel, but laughed that he has been banned by the family from giving Rocky tips.

“He’s watched enough drag racing on SBS Speedweek and enough of the other competitors to know what he needs to do and what is expected of him, he doesn’t need me filling him full of bad advice,” he said.

The upcoming Fuchs Winternationals marks the end of the season and is obviously an important event for Phil’s Top Fuel operation, with his major sponsor carrying the naming rights. Though he has a slim mathematical chance at the championship, Lamattina said the team is more focused on getting data with rookie crew chief Aaron Hambridge tuning the car at Willowbank Raceway for the first time.

“We want to win rounds and get more laps on the track so Aaron can get more experience because as a tuner, apart from the last Winternationals where it was interrupted by rain, Aaron hasn’t had a go at Willowbank so that will be new territory for him,” he said. “He has done well in his own race car at the track in the past so hopefully we can transfer some of that experience over to the Fuchs Top Fuel dragster.”

Lamattina is yet to take an event win this season but believes they have now turned a corner.

“We’ve only been let down by silly stuff that sometimes goes wrong but I think at the end of the day we just need to get a little luck,” he said. “We have a good car, a good team and a good sponsor, what we haven’t got is that little bit of luck and sometimes you need that.”

Post-Fuchs Winternationals Lamattina is planning on heading to the USA to get measured up for a new chassis and to do a bit of relaxing – by watching some more drag racing. “The new car would be for the season after next, there’s no real hurry; it’s an opportunity to go over there in the off season because next season it will be tough to get away with all the rounds that are happening,” he said. “Myself and Aaron are going to go over and clear our heads, do a bit of R&R and just see what is going on in drag racing.”

The Fuchs Winternationals takes place on June 8-11 at Willowbank Raceway near Ipswich, Queensland. The full ANDRA drag racing experience will be on show including all pro categories and the best sportsman racers in the nation taking part in the Rocket Allstars Racing Series.

Click here for more information on the Fuchs Winternationals.

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