At the Tamworth Drag Racing Association’s Gunnedah Airport event this weekend (October 31/November 1), 28-year-old Ash Phillips will be steering her father Mark Phillips’ beloved four-door LH Torana.
This is not the first time that the Gunnedah childcare worker has taken the wheel, but the excitement is still just as palpable now as it was when she had her first try in the driver’s seat seven years ago.
“This is just my second time in the last six years, so I am really loving getting back into it,” Ash explained.
“It has always been something I wanted to do since I was young, watching dad race. I have always been interested in motorsport and cars and I love the adrenalin rush and fun of drag racing.
“Any chance to get my bum in the seat is pretty exciting and this is especially true when it is dad’s pride and joy that I am racing.
“I get asked if I am nervous driving dad’s car but it is more excitement – he has prepared me and taught me everything I need to know and he obviously trusts me and has faith in me; and I am very thankful to him for all of his support.
“This weekend I will just be focusing on getting through the first round – a personal best ET would be great, but the more rounds the better!”
Mark’s handing over of the reigns of his poison ivy green and black LH Torana which is powered by a basic 350 Chev follows 20 years of drag racing all over the country.
The 58-year-old has collected many, many trophies over the past two decades, including the 2012/2013 national runner-up trophy where he and the victor tied on points, and three NSW state championship runner-up trophies.
“I started out in speedway but I had another mate, Mark Harding, who was into drags and I started going with him and it just evolved from there,” he explained.
“I love how with drag racing everything is so equal, and it is not just about who has the most money wins the race, like it can be with speedway.
“I also really like how friendly and open it is, you don’t get that in a lot of other motorsport. I have made a lot of good friends over the 20 years and everyone is always happy to chat about what they are doing and are ready to lend a hand.
“My first event was at the Wellington Drag Strip at Dubbo and I have never looked back. I have seen a lot of Australia going from track to track which has been really great – from the big tracks to most of the regional tracks, we have been pretty much everywhere except for Darwin and Alice Springs.
“I was a bit hesitant at first to hand over the car to Ash but she has been to events all over with me, has been interested in racing for a long time and since getting in the seat she has done a great job and shown she can handle the car and hold her own.
“I would love to see her run a few rounds this weekend and perhaps even get into a final – it is great watching her build her confidence up.”
The Tamworth Drag Racing Association and the Gunnedah Airport hold a special place in the hearts of both father and daughter.
“The Tamworth Drag Racing Association is awesome – how they run their two-day meetings ensures everyone gets plenty of passes and they are an absolutely great mob of people that will help you anyway that they can, I can’t praise them enough,” Mark said.
“They have built that club from nothing to now have everything that you could need. I have been racing with the club since it started, and to see how they have grown it and developed it has been just great.”
“The club is made up of a bunch of awesome people and we obviously can’t race without their commitment, their support and all of their hard work. So much work goes into these events that people do not realise and I cannot commend them enough for what they do so we can have the chance to have a bit of fun,” Ash said.
“I also would like to thank my friends Mark Harding and Ricky Glass, as well as Des Thompson who has helped me out a lot and has rebuilt my motor twice with me just paying for parts; he has played a big part in setting up the car and getting it consistent and has always steered me in the right direction,” Mark added.
“Cetnaj Lighting in Tamworth has also been a great support of our racing, and I of course must also thank my family for always being behind me and supporting me over the years.”
The Tamworth Drag Racing Association will host two days of action at the Gunnedah Airport this weekend across Saturday October 31 and November 1. For more information, visit TDRA’s Facebook page by clicking here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more from ANDRA, visit www.andra.com.au