RaceAway Track Time 2019 Season Review

2019 was another very busy year for the RaceAway Track Time team, but our drivers achieved vast success in a wide variety of state and national-level events. Here are some of our highlights from the season.

Rookie Racer Impresses in RX8 Cup

An addition to our squad in 2019 was Central Coast driver Jake Lougher, who competed in a few categories but was particularly impressive in the Mazda RX8 Cup.

Despite having no previous racing experience, Jake adapted to the track like a duck to water; he ran inside the top 10 from the very start of the year, and by Round 3 at Tailem Bend he was challenging for the podium. Jake finished the season in style with second place overall in the final round at Wakefield Park, securing the Rookie of the Year Award.

Jake was also an integral member of our Cheap Car Challenge team and won the Pheasant Wood Time Trial Series.

Senior Racers Setting a Fine Example

They might have been a couple of the older drivers in the Australian Pulsar Racing Association (APRA) field, but Shane Fowler and our own Phil Alexander took the fight right up to the younger brigade at the Wakefield Park Pulsar enduro, winning the Masters Cup class and finishing in the top five outright, against a field of more than 40 cars.

Shane – who is best-known for his superb automotive signwriting skills – also participated in every round of the Cheap Car Challenge at Pheasant Wood.

Phil also competed in the NSW Production Touring Car Championship, running a Nissan Pulsar and winning the Class E title with numerous race victories, including the one-hour endurance race at Wakefield Park where he teamed up with Rytis Gruodis.

Endurance Experts

We love the strategic and teamwork aspects of endurance races, and RaceAway Track Time cars were well-represented in this year’s longer-distance events.

Our campaign started at the Sydney 300 in March, where Phil teamed up with John Connolly to score a Division E podium in our Mazda MX5. The MX5 returned to the track for May’s Wakefield 300, where Harry Hayek teamed up with Bob Walsh to finish third in Division D and 10th outright.

We also ran a full season campaign in the Pheasant Wood Cheap Car Challenge, in which an assortment of drivers had a turn behind the wheel of our Pulsar. We scored an outright victory in Round 4 with Shane Fowler, Stewart Floresta, Dion Pangalos and Jake Lougher, and ended up second in the series standings.

Road to Bathurst

Our new “Road to Bathurst” program kicked into gear at Challenge Bathurst at the end of the year. Gene Phillips scored a class win in the event while our Bathurst 6 Hour drivers, Brianna Wilson and Jake Lougher, were also in attendance and recorded some impressive lap times.

2020 Plans

Our 2020 season is shaping up to be another busy one; in addition to the APRA Series in NSW, we will also be running entries in the Australian 1000 (encompassing the Wakefield, Sydney and Winton 300 endurance races) along with the Bathurst 6 Hour and Cheap Car Challenge.

We also have cars available to lease for the Mazda RX8 Cup Series, and as usual we will be helping drivers achieve their motorsport goals, whether its obtaining a racing licence, sharpening up on-track skills or simply having fun.

See you trackside!

RaceAway Conquers Cheap Car Challenge

The RaceAway Track Time crew have scored their maiden Cheap Car Challenge endurance race victory at Marulan’s Pheasant Wood circuit, drivers Shane Fowler, Dion Pangalos, Stewart Floresta and debutant Jake Lougher teaming up to take outright victory in the RaceAway Nissan Pulsar.

Making the result even sweeter was a third-place finish in Class 2 (for cars lapping slower than 1:05) for team owner Phil Alexander, who received a last-minute call up to drive with Pulzate Racing, in a N15 Pulsar.

The lead car qualified in 12th position, but a combination of clean driving, consistent lap times, clever strategy and no penalties saw Fowler, Pangalos, Floresta and Lougher steadily climb up the order.

Once post-race penalties had been applied, the RaceAway quartet ended up more than a lap clear of their nearest rivals.

“It was a sensational weekend, and when you look at the Cheap Car Challenge events along with the Wakefield and Sydney 300s, RaceAway Track Time have had six podium finishes in the last five endurance races we’ve entered,” Alexander said.

“It took us a little while to get our head around the Cheap Car Challenge races, because there are very strict rules on driving time and other things that can catch you out, so you really have to use your brain with the strategy.

“All four drivers were very evenly matched, but the most impressive thing was the way they dealt with the traffic.

“They were all able to negotiate their way past slower cars without making contact, but also without getting stuck and losing time, which is ultimately what won them the race.” The next Cheap Car Challenge round at Pheasant Wood will be held on 16 June.

RaceAway Returns to Wakefield 300 Podium

RaceAway Track Time has scored another podium finish in the long-standing Wakefield 300 endurance race on the weekend, talented international open-wheel racer Harry Hayek teaming up with Bob Walsh to finish third in Class D and 10th outright, aboard the team’s Mazda MX5.

Hayek qualified in 16th position, and completed a marathon, 77-lap opening stint in which he took the outright lead of the race for nine laps.

Hayek handed the MX5 over to Walsh at the five-minute compulsory pit stop; Walsh rejoined the race in 13th outright but moved into the top 10 at the finish.

Having competed in Australian Formula 4, British Formula 3 and Kumho Super3 Series, Hayek has a wealth of experience in fast race cars and high-profile categories, but said he thoroughly enjoyed the Wakefield 300 weekend.

“A big thank you to Phil, Karen and the RaceAway team for preparing the car – it was fast and reliable all weekend, and I had a lot of fun,” Hayek said.

“I had some good battles with the other Class D cars early in the race, and the MX5 was very good over the long distance – it looked after its tyres well, and my times became faster as the fuel load burned down.”

One of the cars Hayek battled with was the Class D Mazda RX8, piloted by another RaceAway-supported driver Maisie Place, who was joined by Adam Burgess. Burgess, a former two-time winner of the event, was among the Class D front-runners for much of the opening stint, and Place was also running well before the car unfortunately retired with a niggling differential problem.

RaceAway Introduces More Rookie Racers to APRA

Over the last couple of years, we’ve been proud of our record for introducing racing newcomers to the APRA Series, and we’re pleased to be looking after some more newbies this weekend in the 2019 season opener at Wakefield Park.

Phil Keegan is a familiar name in RaceAway world – he’s done a lot of our track days and also participated in the Cheap Car Challenge events at Marulan’s Pheasant Wood circuit, but has decided the time is right to progress to full-blown Pulsar racing – he’ll steer our #53 N15 this weekend.

Another debutant is Jamie Canellis, also driving an N15 (a brand-new one!).

In N14 Pulsars will be Russell West and Damon Schofield, and these four rookies will compete as part of a massive 35 car field around the technical Wakefield circuit.

We’re also pleased to welcome Benny Powell into our Hyundai Excel for the Series X3 NSW races – this weekend features a non-championship “warm-up” round for the category. The Excel made its debut in the series at the enduro last year, and since then it has undergone some further setup development so we’re sure Ben will have a blast.

As always, thanks to Terry Denovan and his team for putting together a well-organised MRA race meeting – see you all trackside at Wakefield Park!

Prosser Shortlisted in AMRS Awards

Mazda RX8 Cup Series driver Aaron Prosser has been listed among the top 10 drivers of the year for the 2018 Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS).

After achieving some successful results in speedway, the Kiwi made the transition to circuit racing in the brand-new series, and completed some track days with RaceAway Track Time to fine-tune his driving techniques and car setup.

Prosser burst onto the scene at Morgan Park, where he led one of the races and finished on the podium for the weekend. Despite having to learn every circuit he visited, Prosser continued to improve throughout the season and in the final round at Winton, he took the fight right up to the eventual series champion Ric Shaw, winning a couple of races.

Prosser’s performances were recognised by the AMRS judging panel, and earned him a place in the coveted Driver of the Year Awards.

Read the full AMRS 2018 Yearbook online here.

2019 Cheap Car Challenge Dates

The Cheap Car Challenge four-hour races at Marulan’s Pheasant Wood circuit have become extremely popular over the last couple of years, and since the middle of 2007, we have run a car in several events.

At the end of last year, we expanded to a two-car team and for 2019, we’re looking to run two cars in all eight rounds of the series.

The dates for 2019 have just been announced, and are as follows:

  1. Sunday, 17 February
  2. Sunday, 17 March
  3. Sunday, 14 April
  4. Sunday, 19 May
  5. Sunday, 16 June
  6. Sunday, 18 August
  7. Sunday, 22 September
  8. Sunday, 18 November

The Pheasant Wood circuit was refurbished at the start of last year, and has a technical mixture of corners and elevation changes. The Cheap Car Challenge events are ideal for learning traffic management, and we recommend them for people who want to sharpen their race-craft while enjoying wheel-to-wheel combat.

Contact us for more details on the Cheap Car Challenge events.

Prosser Breaks Through in RX8 Cup

New Zealand driver Aaron Prosser has broken through for his maiden race wins in the Mazda RX8 Cup Series season finale at the Winton Raceway AMRS round, after exciting wheel-to-wheel battles with series champion Ric Shaw in all four races.

Prosser, who previously competed in speedway and completed some RaceAway Track Time track days in preparation for his RX8 Cup campaign, qualified fourth despite never having visited the Winton circuit prior to the race meeting.

At the start of Race 1, Prosser jumped to the lead at Turn 3, taking advantage of some panel-rubbing between the leaders, and led all the way to the chequered flag.

In Race 2, Prosser was under pressure from Shaw for the entire eight-lap journey but was able to keep his rival at bay.

Shaw was able to find a way past Prosser for the win in Race 3, and in Race 4, the two cars raced door-to-door for the entire duration, swapping positions on a number of occasions before Shaw finally prevailed with a last-lap passing move to take the win.

Prosser ended the weekend level on points with Shaw, only missing the round win on a countback.

The other RaceAway-supported drivers also performed well; despite some gearbox glitches and an excursion in one of the races, Brayden Slater finished the weekend strongly with seventh in the weekend’s final race.

Following her Wakefield 301 Division D win the previous weekend, Maisie Place was back in her RX8 for her maiden Winton event, and improved her lap times by more than two seconds between qualifying and the weekend’s final race.

Wakefield 301 Win

Congratulations to Maisie Place and Phil Alexander, who drove their Mazda MX5 to first place in Division D in the Wakefield 301 endurance race on Sunday, 11 November.

Phil started the race and completed a long first stint, elevating the Mazda MX5 into the top 10 before Maisie climbed behind the wheel, and brought the car home in a sensational eighth place outright. As well as being a brilliant result for Maisie in her first endurance race, it was also Phil’s second division win in a 300km event at Wakefield Park.

RaceAway’s Pulsar squad also enjoyed a stellar weekend in the pair of one-hour endurance races; Josh Heath won the first race and finished fourth in the second race to secure the runner-up spot in the championship.

The first race was particularly impressive for the RaceAway drivers; also finishing in the top 10 were Tim/Anthony Colombrita (fifth), Greg Dufficy (sixth) and Mark Crutcher (ecstatic with 10th), while Chris Manning and Wil Foot were 11th.

If Mark was happy to finish 10th in Race 1, he could barely stop celebrating after improving to eighth in Race 2 – it was by far his strongest weekend in the category.

The RaceAway Track Time Hyundai Excel also made its competition debut in the Series X3 NSW category, with the two Lachlans, Gibbons and Mansell, sharing the driving duties.

After starting from the back of the grid due to some teething issues with fuel surge in Saturday qualifying and sprint races, Gibbons drove a storming opening stint, making up more than 10 places before handing the car over to Mansell during an early Safety Car. Mansell drove a marathon 70-minute stint to finish up 14th at the chequered flag.

Wakefield 301 is the Place to Be

RaceAway Track Time has announced its driver lineup for this weekend’s Wakefield 301 endurance race, 18-year-old Maisie Place joining the experienced Phil Alexander aboard the team’s Mazda MX5.

Place, a second-year apprentice mechanic from Moruya on the NSW South Coast, is in just her first season of racing, competing in the Mazda RX8 Cup which runs as part of the Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS).

Having attended many of the Wakefield Park endurance races as a spectator, Place can’t wait to take her place (pun unintended) on the grid this weekend.

“I love the Wakefield 300, or 301 as it’s called this year, I’ve been coming to all of them since I was a kid,” Place said.

“It’s an event I’ve always dreamed of racing in, and I can’t wait to be part of it.”

Place has impressed many of her Mazda RX8 Cup rivals with her rapid improvements since her debut in the category, but she says the Wakefield 301 will be a whole new experience.

“In the Mazda RX8 Cup, all the cars are the same and the lap times are very close, but in the Wakefield 301 there are all different types of cars,” Place said.

“There will be quite a big variation in speed between the fast and slow cars, and our Mazda MX5 is somewhere in the middle. I’m going to have to deal with being lapped by faster cars, while lapping slower cars. It will be a good learning experience for me.

“It’s exciting to have Phil (Alexander) driving with me – Phil has done a lot of racing in some really big events like the Bathurst 1000 and Nurburgring 24 Hour, so I will be able to pick up a lot from his experience and advice.”

The Wakefield 301 action commences with free practice tomorrow (Friday), followed by official practice and qualifying on Saturday, and the 137 lap, 301 kilometre race on Sunday.

Commentator Confirms Racing Return

Motorsport commentator Lachlan Mansell will swap his microphone for a helmet when he joins the RaceAway Track Time team for the Series X3 NSW (Hyundai Excel Series) 150km endurance event, supporting the Australian Super Truck Championship race meeting at Wakefield Park this weekend.

The Goulburn resident’s voice is familiar at race tracks across the country; his role as the series commentator for the SuperUtes Series – one of the support categories for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship – takes him to some of the biggest events on the calendar including the Adelaide 500, Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000. He is also the live stream host for the Australian Motor Racing Series.

Closer to home, Mansell still commentates many state and national-level races at Wakefield Park. He also calls some events at Goulburn Speedway.

Mansell’s busy schedule means he doesn’t often get the chance to race himself, and he’s looking forward to being back behind the wheel.

“Commentating car racing has always been the thing I’ve loved most of all, and I was never really interested in becoming a driver until one of my friends, Emily Duggan, gave me a test in her Excel a couple of years ago,” Mansell said.

“I found that the experience of driving a race car enhanced my knowledge of the sport and allowed me to offer more insightful comments behind the microphone, so I’ve made it a goal to compete in at least one event per year since then.

“In 2016 I competed in the 24 Hours of Lemons endurance event for cars up to $1,000, and last year I did a Pulsar Series race at Wakefield. I’m looking forward to doing the Excel enduro – I like the strategic and team-work aspects of the long-distance races, and the Excel Series is a very affordable category where the cars are closely matched.”

Mansell’s co-driver will be reigning NSW Formula Ford Champion Lachlan Gibbons, a competitor who also has a wealth of experience in production car racing.

“I wanted Lachlan as my co-driver because he’s very good with driver coaching and feedback,” Mansell said.

“For someone with my relative lack of experience, it’s important for me to have someone to learn from – the only problem is it’s a bit confusing having two Lachlans in the team!”

Mansell also paid credit to the RaceAway Track Time operation, owned by veteran Phil Alexander.

“Phil has raced all over the world, and now he’s made a business out of giving people the opportunity for people to experience the thrill of motorsport,” Mansell said.

“For someone like myself who doesn’t have the time, infrastructure or mechanical expertise to own and prepare my own race car, it’s perfect. All I have to do is rock up at the track with my race suit and helmet, and enjoy the weekend.”