• Although the 7mate Northline Speedway Sprintcar season is only four meetings old as the Chariots of Thunder Series gets underway the season has been going for a lot longer for a number of the local drivers who decided to venture interstate during the Northern off season. The likes of Ben Atkinson, Chace Karpenko, Jason Gebert and Jamie O’Neill decided to base themselves on the east coast while Jamie McInnes and Damien Thorne found their way south racing through South Australia and Victoria.

    So, will the extra seat time give these drivers an advantage over the next couple of weeks? We talked to a few of these drivers to find out their thoughts on their “off season” racing campaigns.

    Jamie McInnes NT4: - Contested several rounds of World Series Sprintcars (Speedweek), Adelaide Motorsport Park club shows and 360 All Stars Series events at Murray Bridge, Adelaide Motorsport Park and Sunline Speedway, Waikerie.

    “I believe being able to race interstate gives you the experience and knowledge to be a much better driver and race team. As you get the opportunity to race at so many different tracks, on different track surfaces and compete against many of the top drivers in Australia. It gives you and your team valuable insight into the importance of car set up and car preparation. Over the past 5 years that we have raced away, our team has learnt a lot. And on top of all that, we have been able to meet a lot of great people along the way”.

    We also asked Jamie what was it going to be like racing against some of the best drivers in Australia, e.g. James McFadden, Dave Murcott, Tim Van Ginneken, at his home track?

    “I have raced against these top guys before in World Series Sprintcars and James McFadden in the 2010 at the Australian Sprintcar Titles. To be honest, I’m just a small team in the grand scheme of things, and these guys are great drivers. I would like to think that having some home town track knowledge will give us a helping hand at having a crack at the Chariots of Thunder Series” added Jamie with a smile.

    Chace Karpenko NT21: - Based his racing at the Valvoline Raceway in Sydney taking in several big races including the Scott Darley Classic, the Origin of Speed and the Australian Sprintcar Title. Also ventured to Warrnambool for the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.

    “We are looking forward to the start of the Chariots of Thunder Series. We were fortunate enough to do some racing at VR and Warrnambool during our local off season. While the VR track is very different to Northline the intensity of the racing is really high.

    Having raced against some of the country’s best teams’ interstate we now get the opportunity to race them on our Turf. Northline really is elbows up racing at the moment so we will have to grab every opportunity with both hands if we want to finish at the front like we did last year. We don't plan on handing back the Pope 65 Trophy” added Chace in a determined fashion.

    Jamie O’Neill NT24: - Raced at the Valvoline Raceway during January representing NT at the Origin of Speed.

    “It’s been a tough lead up as I haven't had the seat time as we have only done two events as we have been building a new race truck. As for Sydney, we only raced 4 shows as the rest of the shows were rained out and I was driving for Les Nelson in a J&J and it took me a while to adjust. Our plans are to take my own gear back down to Sydney to race again this year.

    But first we have the Chariots of Thunder to race and it going to be tough with a strong field of cars heading up”.

    Article by Phil Michell for the official Chariots of Thunder Series Magazine.
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