Super Fun for all at Super Track Day

On 19 January, we held our second SUPER TRACK DAY.

If it sounds big, that’s because it was! We booked out the Wakefield Park circuit exclusively for use by our customers, and our second Super Track Day proved to be even bigger than our first one.

As well as a number of clients hiring out our race cars to cure the post-racetrack depression they had been suffering over the Christmas break, we also had a few teams testing in preparation for the upcoming season, including the On Track Motorsport Porsche outfit of Garry Mennell, Kean Booker, Mark Caine and Aaron Zerefos, who took advantage of the open pit lane and generous track time to complete their shakedown for the 2018 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

But the highlight of our day was the corporate event we were able to organise for the Reynolds Auctions and Collier International businesses. Staff from these companies were given the chance to drive our Pulsars over the course of the day, and after a few familiarisation sessions, we activated our GPS timing systems to see who could clock the fastest time.

It’s always amazing how people who seemed nervous at the start of the day, suddenly become so much more competitive and confident once the stopwatch is running, and we saw some very impressive lap times – times that would have been competitive in the Australian Pulsar Racing Association Series.

As well as providing corporate customers with an adrenaline rush they simply don’t get at other events such as golf days, these types of experiences are also valuable for team building and bonding, and we’ve already had interest from other people who would like us to organise more of these sorts of events in the future.

If something like this sounds like it would work for your business, get in touch with us here and we can come up with the right program to suit your needs.

In the meantime, our attention now turns to some big upcoming racing events including the Wakefield 300, and the opening round of the 2018 NSW APRA Series – stay tuned for some exciting announcements on these events in the coming days!

2017 Season Review

The 2017 season was a highly successful one for the RaceAway Track Time crew as we continued to expand our business operations.

Our race car hire services proved extremely popular, and we ended the year by not only hiring out cars for track days, but for race meetings as well. The feedback from our customers has been that they love being able to turn up at the track and go racing, without the logistical challenges of having to prepare a race car and transport it to the circuit themselves.

We also conducted a number of CAMS and AASA licence assessments throughout the year. One of our primary aims has been to introduce more people to motor-racing, and it’s always very satisfying to bring new faces into the sport.

On the track, it was a very good year. Once again, our main focus was the Australian Pulsar Racing Association Series and RaceAway Track Time-supported driver Josh Heath did us very proud, winning three of the six rounds and finishing second in the championship, just 15 points off the winner.

Gene Alexander enjoyed a consistent season on his way to sixth in the title race, while others who we supported throughout the season included Mark Crutcher, Jack Winter, Shane Fowler, Martin Welsh, Richard Bailey, Denis Barbaro and Gavan Reynolds.

Some of these drivers we assisted with technical and car-setup advice, some we provided with driver development services to help them improve their on-track performance, and others leased cars from us to participate in events.

However, our racing activities were not restricted to the Pulsar Series. We also participated in a couple of Cheap Car Challenge events at the Marulan Dirt and Tar Circuits, which proved so popular we had to expand to a two-car team for the November event. These events were perfect at giving racing newcomers the chance to practice skills including traffic management, pit stops and driver changes, in an affordable environment.

Participants in the Cheap Car Challenge in 2017 included John Connolly, Tom Connolly, “TJ”, Phil Keegan, Gavan Reynolds, Chris Manning, Graeme Manning and Adam Leacy.

Some of our clients enjoyed the racing experience so much, they wanted to step up to higher-profile events. We were fortunate enough to assist Gavan Reynolds and Brendan Farrugia in their progression to the Toyota 86 Racing Series, supporting the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

At the other end of the scale, there were those drivers who were perfectly satisfied to participate in track days and focus on improving their skills and lap-times without the cut and thrust of wheel-to-wheel combat. We formed an alliance with Track Day Club, who ran a number of very successful track days at Wakefield Park and Marulan, and we provided their customers with race car hire, driver development and licence assessment services.

 

Towards 2018

With the 2017 racing season now complete, we are in full preparation for another big year in 2018.

In terms of racing, our focus will again be on the Pulsar Series but we will also be involved in the brand-new Mazda RX8 Cup Series, which is running as part of the Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS).

We will again be assisting with team management and driver development at Toyota 86 Series events along with the Bathurst 6 Hour, while we will again be hiring out our fleet of race cars which include our Nissan Pulsars ,Toyota 86, Mazda RX8, Mazda MX5 and our most recent addition, our BMW M3.

Many of our clients are progressing up the motorsport ladder, but we’ll continue to promote the sport to new customers and look forward to introducing more people to the thrills of motor-racing.

Have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year, and we’ll see you all in 2018!

 

Best wishes,

 

Phil and Karen Alexander

RaceAway Track Time

Swapping the Microphone for a Helmet

Our media man Lachlan Mansell stepped into one of our cars for the final round of the Pulsar Series at Wakefield Park. Here’s his take on the weekend:

There are quite a few retired professional racing drivers who have subsequently enjoyed careers as motorsport commentators (think Neil Crompton, Mark Skaife, Mark Larkham) but not many who have started out as commentators and then become drivers – in fact, I struggle to think of many at all.

Indeed, until Emily Duggan gave me a test in her Excel at Wakefield Park last year, I had never really entertained the notion of swapping the microphone for a helmet and competing myself.

But it only took one test day, where I was able to punch out some competitive times, to make me realise how much I enjoyed it. I subsequently competed in last year’s 24 Hours of Lemons, finishing fourth outright in the Team Radio Lemons outfit I put together, ably assisted by Emily along with Dylan Thomas, Dave Stillwell and Brian Van De Wakker.

The problem is – as a professional motorsport commentator – it doesn’t really make economic sense to ditch one of my primary sources of income to then spend money on going motor racing.

Nevertheless, with my commentary commitments pretty much done and dusted for 2017, I decided to treat myself to a one-off drive in the final round of the Australian Pulsar Racing Association NSW Series at Wakefield Park on the weekend.

I put together a deal to drive one of the RaceAway Track Time Pulsars. Owned by experienced endurance racer Phil Alexander and based in the Southern Highlands, RaceAway Track Time is a business that specialises in preparing and leasing out race cars to people who want to go racing, but don’t have the time, resources or mechanical expertise to do it themselves – in other words, perfect for someone like myself!

Phil is also an accredited CAMS and AASA licence assessor and conducted my licence assessment earlier in the year (you can watch the video of this below).

To be totally honest, I was a bit apprehensive when I rocked up at the track for practice on Friday – I hadn’t had much seat time in a race car and wasn’t sure how quickly to get back into it. But after the first session, the apprehension was gone – I was comfortable and confident in pushing the car towards its limits.

The original plan had been for Toyota 86 Series star Cameron Hill to co-drive with me in the pair of one-hour endurance races, but when Cameron was a late withdrawal due to unforeseen commitments, Lachlan Mineeff (who races Cameron’s Formula Ford) was called up as a replacement. He may only be 14, but Lachlan is no slouch; he qualified third outright (behind Max Vidau and Hunter McElrea) in his national Formula Ford debut at Sydney Motorsport Park, and is a race-winner at state level.

It actually worked out really well, providing an opportunity for Lachlan to get some seat time in a tin top, and his father John’s Southern Star Truck Centre business generously came on board as a sponsor for the weekend as well.

Interesting trivia – it was the second time in 2017 that two Lachlans had shared a car for an endurance race at Wakefield Park, after Lachlan McBrien and Lachlan Higgins teamed up for the Super TT enduro.

Saturday brought rain to Goulburn, and plenty of it. Lachlan was sent out in the first practice session to sample the car, and was promptly punted off the track by an out-of-control competitor. He returned to the pits – fortunately, the damage was only cosmetic and was repaired in time for qualifying.

We each participated in a qualifying session and I was extremely conservative, not having had much previous wet-weather experience and not wishing to inflict any more damage upon Phil’s car.

We qualified in 26th position outright and I took the start. Once again, I took a very cautious approach but was able to make up a few places by virtue of other cars coming off the track. The visibility was shocking and we actually employed a Red Bull Racing Bathurst-style squeegee, which I used to wipe fog off the windscreen during a Safety Car. At around the half-way mark I handed over to Lachlan, who also adopted a steady-as-she-goes approach and brought us home in 22nd.

After returning to the pits at the end of the race, we went to take the car for a much-needed rinse, only to discover we couldn’t select first gear, second gear or reverse – not very helpful! After some fiddling around, Phil Alexander declared the gearbox “stuffed” (actually, I think it was a slightly stronger word but this is a G-rated article) and made an early-morning trip back to his Southern Highlands base to source a replacement.

Fortunately, the conditions on Sunday were much drier and Lachlan and I were evenly matched in our sessions, qualifying 22nd in the 27-car field.

Lachlan drove a ripper opening stint, elevating us into the top 20 before I jumped in for the run home. Upon exiting the pits, I had just been lapped by the eighth-placed car, driven by experienced Improved Production racers Ashley Birks and Sam Maio, so I latched onto the back of them and decided to try and keep up as best as I could.

The strategy clearly worked, because I lapped consistently in the high 1:13s with a best time of a 1:13.6 – as quick as the cars that finished in the lower half of the top 10 – and crossed the line in 17th place.

The other highlight of the weekend was that I commentated the stints of the race where I wasn’t driving (the finish on Saturday and start on Sunday), as I attempted to emulate my motorsport commentary hero Neil Crompton.

To be honest, I surprised myself with my pace considering my lack of experience and seat time. Maybe all those years of calling thousands and thousands of racing laps has allowed me to subconsciously pick up a racer’s instinct without doing much actual driving.

Certainly, it’s given me enough self-belief that if I was to commit to a full season in a motorsport category with a proper program of testing, data analysis and fitness training, I could hold my own. The reality is that isn’t going to happen because at the end of the day, I derive my income from writing and talking about the sport.

Cheap Car Challenge Assault

Colo Vale-based motor racing team, RaceAway Track Time, is preparing two cars for an assault on a different sort of car race – the Cheap Car Challenge at Marulan Driver Training Centre this weekend.

Far from featuring exotic sports cars or purpose-built racing machines, the Cheap Car Challenge is all about giving people the experience of racing at an affordable price. It is open to vehicles manufactured between 1986 and 2004, with a maximum engine capacity of two Litres.

The event runs for four hours – split into two, two-hour parts – and each team must have four drivers, each of whom are only allowed to drive for 15 minutes at a time. This means there are plenty of pit stops.

These regulations play right into the hands of RaceAway Track Time owner Phil Alexander, a racing veteran who has competed in some of the most prestigious events around Australia and the world, including the Bathurst 1000 and Nurburgring 24 Hour.

Having stopped racing full-time, Alexander is now passionate about giving other people the opportunity to hit the track, and his RaceAway Track Time operation is all about making the process of going racing as easy as possible. Alexander says the Cheap Car Challenge is the ideal event for beginners.

“There are lots of people out there who dream about experiencing the thrill of going motor racing, but don’t know where to start,” Alexander said.

“Often they don’t have the resources or mechanical expertise to own and prepare a race car themselves, so our team is geared around providing those services.

“This year we’ve had a busy year, running entries in the NSW Pulsar Series along with hiring out our Pulsar, Mazda RX8, Toyota 86 and BMW M3 race cars at a number of track days.

“We entered our first Cheap Car Challenge event in August and I was very impressed – it’s highly-competitive and for beginners, it teaches them basic skills like car control and how to drive in traffic, but they also have to learn how to handle pit stops and driver changes.

“The first event was a roaring success, and afterwards we had so much interest from people wanting to drive that we’ve had to run a second car.”

This Sunday, Alexander and the RaceAway Track Time team will run a Nissan Pulsar (to be driven by John Connolly, Tom Connolly, “TJ” and Phil Keegan) and a Nissan NX Coupe (to be piloted by Gavan Reynolds, Chris Manning, Graeme Manning and Adam Leacy).

“It’s a real mix of drivers, all looking for a different experience,” Alexander said.

“At one end of the scale, you have the Connollys who like to have a play in race cars on weekends for fun, but you also have someone like Gavan Reynolds, who is sharpening up his skills because he wants to step up to national-level motorsport next year.”

The Marulan Cheap Car Challenge event will be held at Marulan this Sunday, 12 November.

RaceAway Track Time Set for Production Car Finale

Southern Highlands racing team, race car hire and driver development outfit, RaceAway Track Time will compete in the final round of the Australian Production Car Series at Wakefield Park, 18-19 November.

Racing rookies Gavan Reynolds and Chris Manning will be joined by NSW Pulsar Series front-runner Josh Heath in one of RaceAway Track Time’s N15 Nissan Pulsars, which will compete in Class E.

For Reynolds and Manning, the event is an opportunity to gain valuable track miles as they prepare for a step up to the Toyota 86 Racing Series next year.

RaceAway Track Time owner Phil Alexander said the long distance running will also be good for practising endurance techniques.

“Because there are two 300km races, there will be pit stops and refuelling,” Alexander said.

“It’s a great opportunity for Gavan and Chris to practice being in the car for long stints, and then going through the process of driver changes.

“Also, because the Australian Production Car Series runs a multi-class format, they will also gain experience with traffic, especially learning how to be overtaken by faster cars.

“Josh is part of our team and he’s one of the front-running contenders in the Pulsar Series, and is also a very accomplished endurance driver, so it made sense to bring him along as a third driver; he will be a good benchmark for the other two.”

The Australian Production Car Series round comes at a busy time for the RaceAway Track Time squad, which is also running two cars in the Marulan Cheap Car Challenge a week prior, and a fleet of entries in the final round of the NSW Pulsar Series – also an endurance event – at Wakefield Park on the first weekend in December.

The Colo Vale-based team is also building cars for the brand-new Mazda RX8 Cup one-make series, while Alexander is kept busy during the week providing driver development and CAMS/AASA licence assessment services.

Heath Hits the Lead

Josh Heath has taken the lead of the 2017 NSW Pulsar Series in his RaceAway Track Time Nissan N15 Pulsar with his second consecutive round victory at Sydney Motorsport Park on the weekend.

Heath qualified second, and finished third in Race 1 behind Matt Boylan and Craig Thornton. He fought his way past Boylan and Thornton to take the lead and the win in Race 2, and again came out on top after a close battle with Boylan in Race 3.

The results have enabled Heath to take a seven point advantage at the top of the series standings, at the season’s half-way mark.

The other RaceAway Track Time drivers also enjoyed strong weekends. Gene Alexander qualified seventh, but after falling to 11th in Race 1, he recovered to finish sixth in Races 2 and 3, setting the fastest lap of the field in Race 2. As a result, he maintained his top-five position in the standings.

Mark Crutcher recorded finishes of 18th, 13th and 15th in the three races, while Dion Pangalos was happy to finish all three races in his return to motorsport. Rookie racer Tom Pym improved his lap times in each race, as he learned the Sydney Motorsport Park circuit.

The next round of the NSW Pulsar Series is at Wakefield Park, 2 July.

 

NSW Pulsar Racing Series – Top 10 Points

1. Josh Heath – 817

2. Daniel Smith – 810

3. Matt Boylan – 807

4. Cem Yucel – 620

5. Gene Alexander – 612

6. Alexandra Lawrence – 600

7. Craig Thornton – 581

8. Luke Eberhart – 474

9. Ben Hanrahan – 447

10. Tim Passlow – 421

Heath Aims to Continue Winning Pulsar Run

The Australian Pulsar Racing Association (APRA) Series returns to Sydney Motorsport Park for Round 3 this weekend, and RaceAway Track Time driver Josh Heath is looking to continue his winning form.

Heath took overall victory in the last round of the Pulsar Series, held on Sydney Motorsport Park’s Brabham Circuit, and is now just 33 points off the series lead.

This weekend’s event will be held on the traditional SMP Gardner (GP circuit), with its mix of flowing, constant-radius corners.

Once again, the RaceAway Track Time team will oversee a large fleet of Pulsars.

Following his consistent start to the season, Gene Alexander is hoping some recent improvements to his Pulsar – especially the differential setup – will yield some improved results.

Jack Winter demonstrated front-running pace in the previous round and will be aiming for more top five results, while Mark Crutcher has undertaken some testing ahead of the weekend.

Rookie racer Tom Pym is back behind the wheel, and returning to the motorsport scene is Dion Pangalos. The former production car racer has received technical support with his Pulsar from the RaceAway Track Time outfit, and makes his series debut this weekend.

RaceAway Track Time team owner Phil Alexander said its shaping up to be a busy weekend.

“It’s great to have the Pulsar Series back at a CAMS State Championship race meeting, and hopefully we can continue our recent strong run of form,” Alexander said.

“The GP circuit is a bit less complicated than the Brabham circuit, and the corners are generally fast and flowing. In these cars, it’s all about minimising mistakes and maintaining as much momentum as possible.”

The race meeting will consist of qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday, and Races 2 and 3 on Sunday.

RaceAway Track Time On Top at SMP

RaceAway Track Time Pulsar racer Josh Heath has taken the overall round victory in Round 2 of the NSW Pulsar Series at Sydney Motorsport Park’s Brabham circuit on the weekend.

Heath qualified fourth, but his typically strong race-craft came to the fore in Race 1, when he charged to second place and finished just 0.2s behind winner Daniel Smith.

Heath took the lead on the third lap of Race 2 and pulled to a three-second win.

In Race 3, Heath battled with Matt Boylan in the early laps but once he had clear track, he again pulled clear, this time taking the win by almost four seconds.

As a result, Heath has improved to second in the series standings, just 33 points behind Smith.

Following his division win in February’s Wakefield 300 and strong showing in the Victorian Pulsar Series round at Winton in March, RaceAway Track Time junior driver Jack Winter was back in the NSW series and had his most competitive showing to date, qualifying sixth. After finishing 11th in Race 1 due to an incident, Winter recovered to seventh in Race 2 and fifth in Race 3.

Team owner Phil Alexander debuted the latest RaceAway Track Time Pulsar and was competitive from the outset, finishing seventh outright in the weekend’s final race and winning the Masters Cup for drivers over 40.

Gene Alexander had a challenging weekend after the team elected to experiment with a new differential setup, but still accumulated a healthy bundle of points and maintained his top-five position in the series standings.

The next round of the NSW Pulsar Series is on the Sydney Motorsport Park GP Circuit, 27-28 May.

 

NSW Pulsar Racing Series – Top 10 Points

1. Daniel Smith – 565

2. Josh Heath – 532

3. Matt Boylan – 527

4. Alexandra Lawrence – 417

5. Gene Alexander – 404

6. Trent Murray – 401

7. Cem Yucel – 392

8. Ben Hanrahan – 341

9. Craig Thornton – 326

10. Tim Passlow – 303