Former Super Stock Champion Darren Parker is in a race against time to get his engine ready for a long awaited Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series return at the Australian Nationals January 23-24 at Calder Park Raceway.
Parker has been on an extended hiatus since 2014 but the return of the Australian Nationals at his home track for the first time since 2001 was too tempting to pass up.
“After winning the 2013 Australian Super Stock Championship I was forced to take a break from racing in 2014 when the three auto manufacturers in Australia announced they were pulling out of manufacturing in Australia in 2017,” said Parker.
“My employer reacted by cutting the workforce to four-day weeks rather than put people out of work. As you can imagine losing 20% of your income came as a shock and as a family we had to be more aware of what we were spending our money on – luxuries like Drag Racing had to be put on the back burner.”
Forced to dig in, Parker kept his Championship winning GXP in the shed, enduring a waiting game until it was time to fire the engine once again.
In his time away he embodied the Aussie battler spirit never losing sight of his ambition to return to racing. By mid 2015 he was rewarded when business picked up and five-day working weeks became the norm once again.
“I was already in talks with Pro Stock legend Peter Ridgeway about the updates we were planning to the engine. Peter commenced sourcing the main parts for the upgrade and I got on with making some new components for the engine as well.
“As Christmas neared Peter came up with a plan to have the engine updated in time for the Nationals at Calder. Being our home track it is imperative that we are there not only to support the facility, but to race in front of our home crowd and many family and friends that haven’t seen me race the GXP before.
“Of course the double prize money that is on offer is a huge motivator to get out there and be in with a chance. Winning that would go some way to paying for the engine updates!”
Ridgeway is overseeing the significant upgrade that should see the B/APA GXP pushing into the low 7.2’s or high 7.1’s, on a par with the lower end of Pro Stock, in the right conditions.
“I don’t expect the air in January to be perfect for the naturally aspirated 400ci engine, but hopefully we see some un-seasonally cool air at Calder and you never know what might happen!
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following people for helping me get the car ready for the Nationals. Peter Ridgeway and Arthur Sagiaris from Custom Engines for their hard work trying to get the engine ready.
“Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions for their dedicated support to ANDRA racing and my Proflite Transmission. Bob Ryan for his Carbon Fibre assistance in the last couple of weeks and Nick Xerakias at ERC Race Fuels.”
The Australian Nationals return to Calder Park Raceway for the first time in 15 years January 23-24. Qualifying run from 9am-9pm on Saturday January 23 and eliminations from 9am Sunday January 24. For more information please visit: www.calderparkdragracing.com.au