LAKE BOLAC - Jimmy Gardiner will carry not just a race car but the hopes of the Western Victoria community when he takes part in the 2014 Australian 360 Sprintcar Championship this weekend.
Despite having very limited experience as a competitor in the division, Gardiner is hoping to become only the third Victorian since 2004 to claim the title.
Gardiner openly admits that he is not a high end budget competitor but he won’t let that hold him back from having his ﬁrst crack at the national title.
The 21-year-old from Lake Bolac is in only his second season of 360ci sprintcar racing.
His ﬁrst season was a virtual write off having competed at only four race meetings, completely hamstrung by engine problems.
He has had a better time this season, winning some of his heats and making it in to the top ten drivers in the season point score.
In an event at Mildura Speedway, recently he was running third in a feature race with only a handful of laps to the chequered flag when once again he suffered mechanical problems and had to retire.
His priority this weekend is simply to reach the Championship Feature Race Final - anything better will be a bonus.
This racing season Gardiner set goals to be more consistent on track and record a few top ﬁve ﬁnishes in feature races.
“Sprintcar racing in my eyes is the most awesome form of racing anywhere in the world,” he said.
Gardiner and his father Andy maintain his race car at home in the shed working together to make any repairs or alterations.
“We have had a very good run this season as far as mechanical issues are concerned. We have a very strong engine in our car which has put our mind at ease,” he said.
Gardiner believes the reward from the sport comes from knowing that the hard work that is undertaken in the shed is reﬂected by the results on the track.
He receives huge support from his family, friends and local businesses and he won’t be leaving any cards on the table when he makes his Championship debut.
The 2014 Australian 360 Sprintcar Championship will be held at Murray Bridge Speedway, South Australia this Friday and Saturday.
Once this weekend’s Championship campaign is complete, Gardiner will be leaving for the United States where he will be pit crewing in the frenetic world of American sprintcar racing.
“Major difference from there to here is the tracks. My ability to adapt to the speed will be a major factor, I’m very excited to have such a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Gardiner said.