Four-time CQDRA Junior Dragster Champion Tayla Kelly is leading the way in an incredibly tight 2020 title fight for the Junior Dragster bracket ahead of this weekend’s final round of the season at Benaraby Dragway (28 November).
The 16-year-old has been going to Benaraby Dragway since she was a baby and racing since she was 10. In the years that have followed her debut, she has claimed the CQDRA Junior Dragster Championship four times in a row (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) and tied for Overall Track Champion with Noel Smith in 2016.
Her prospects for a fifth title are looking good so far, with the Gladstone racer leading the 2020 Junior Dragster championship points by five points ahead of second-placed Caleb Seng (50 points) and 10 points ahead of third-placed, Jaiden Seng (45 points), with fourth-placed Kilarney Back also right in the mix (44 points).
“I believe I can take it out, however, I’m not so confident that I’ll go bragging about it to anyone that will listen. There is still one more meeting left and there is only five points between me and second place, and a further 10 between myself and third. In the long scheme of things, that is not many points – the whole rankings could change from this one meeting so I will still make sure to bring my all,” Kelly said.
“At the end of the day, winning, to me doesn’t really matter. Do not get me wrong, winning feels great, but it is not the main drive for my racing. I would still be happy with the past season even if I did not win. Winning the championship would be special for the sole reason that people would be able to acknowledge the efforts my crew and I have put into this year.”
While leading by such a narrow margin, Kelly is not feeling the pressure.
“This isn’t an entirely new feeling as I’ve won the championship before, but this year is a bit different. Not only is there the fact that there were not many meetings because of COVID-19, but this is also the first year my dad has been absent for a lot of my meetings.
“This has shown in the fact that I haven’t done too hot most meetings, only placing when my dad has been there, which wasn’t as often as I would have liked. So, it feels amazing to still pull through to be in this position even in one of my worst years.”
The Junior Dragster bracket has been well-supported at Benaraby Dragway this year, a fact which the grade 10 student is grateful for.
“I know the feeling of not having many people to race against or no one at all, and to be frank, it’s quite boring. I much rather race against people, so I am very appreciative of the fact that people take time out of their lives to come to our track to race. They’re all really nice too, so that’s a bonus,” Kelly said.
“I have been enjoying this season a lot. So many people have come to our track to race in our bracket, especially closer to the end of the year and it feels amazing to have such a full class again – that is probably my favourite thing from the championship.
“I’ve been going to Benaraby for my whole life, since I was born, essentially. This is my home track and I love it to bits. I would much rather race here than at a big track like Willowbank because, at a track like this, everyone knows each other. Everyone is so friendly and nice, and it feels like one big family.”
Kelly has a long list of people she would like to recognise for the roles they have played in her 2020 season.
“I want to thank everyone who helps out with my racing. My dad is the biggest one – without him, I would not have ever thought about racing. He also does all the maintenance on my car no matter how long it will take,” she said.
“Mark and Anita Harris of Harbour City Harley Davidson have also helped out majorly for most of my racing career and are my main crew when my dad is away for work. They have helped out so much this year because of dad’s unfortunate work schedule and I could not be more thankful for them.
“I would also like to thank Rick and Laura Houston of Houston Plastering because they’ve also helped me so much this year and also for their efforts to sponsor our bracket.
“2020 has been a bad year, to put it lightly, so I would also like to send a special thanks to all of the track staff and people behind the scenes for seeing this season through and not letting COVID-19 ruin this as well. And thank you to everyone who decided to let this season play through and still hold the championship against all the odds that this year has put everyone up against.
“Thank you all for the continued support, I really appreciate it. And good luck to all other racers for this next meeting and congratulations in advance to those who take the wins.”
The final round of the 2020 Central Queensland Drag Racing Association (CQDRA) Championship chase will be held at Benaraby Dragway next Saturday, November 28. For more information, visit www.cqdra.com.au
For more from ANDRA, visit www.andra.com.au