Weedsport, NY — January 19, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
While the whirlwind winter tour to Florida arrives in just three more weeks when Northeastern Modified teams set course for their annual pilgrimage south, Big-Block standout Jimmy Phelps will get a head start on the field as he leaves today for a trip around the world to compete in Australia.
The 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH scheduled February 11-14 at Volusia Speedway Park has attracted the most attention since the new year, yet Phelps has been formulating plans to make his first official visit ‘Down Under’ since summertime when he found out he was in line to debut at Lismore and Maryborough speedways in January.
“I already learned a few things talking with Gary (Tomkins) and Tim (Fuller) about racing in Australia,” remarked Phelps, 33, who will contend in the V8 Dirt Modified Masters at Lismore in Northern New South Wales on January 24-25, then move to Maryborough in Queensland for opening round Rooster Cup competition on January 31. The Baldwinsville, New York pilot will be accompanied by Troyer Inc. President Billy Colton as they cross into the southern hemisphere for a two-week journey.
“Our primary goal is still to help out the Troyer customers and try to maximize their potential with the product. But once I get out on the track I definitely want to be a factor. I’ve heard the drivers won’t give you anything so I’ll have to work really hard. I know the tracks are shorter, narrower and more round and the surfaces don’t get as slippery as those in the north. It should be quite a deal, something I’m sure I’ll never forget,” said Phelps, prior to opening his 2009 campaign in another continent for the first time in a career spanning a dozen years of DIRTcar racing.
Regardless of the race results, ’09 will certainly be memorable for Phelps as his wife Shannon is due to deliver their third girl during the traditional ‘off-season’ in the Northeast. His youngest daughter Sadie turned two in November while Ashley blew out four candles in September.
“When I first got word of this trip the initial plans were to take the whole family but the (February 11) due date was cutting it too close,” noted Phelps, who estimates 15 hours of air time in a 26-hour one-way trip to Australia, taking off January 19 and returning home to Central New York on February 3. “This will certainly be a whole new experience, I think my honeymoon (Hawaii) was seven hours but we stopped in between.”
Phelps’ global tour has been organized by Troyer’s Australian distributor, JBR Motorsport, with the first-string H&H Motorsports pilot slated to utilize a 2008 Troyer Max Flex chassis (#49 car) for the JBR outfit co-owned by Simon Jupe.
“I spent some time with Simon when he came over for 10 days last summer and we got along really well, it was a very comfortable situation,” recalled Phelps, who ended up a career-best second in the 2008 Mr. DIRTcar Championship with 14 front-five and 23 top-10 Advance Auto Parts Super Series finishes in 26 starts. The ‘B’Ville Blizzard’ has already proven his worth on foreign soil, last season scoring his lone Advance Series victory at Merrittville (Ont.) Speedway in August while adding two more runner-up finishes in Canada at both Brockville (Ont.) Speedway and Autodrome Granby (Que.).
“I asked him a few questions about racing (Australia), but since then I’ve spent a lot of time studying the internet and done my homework. I’m really going there with a totally open mind. The tracks are considerably different and there’s a different rules package in place, small-blocks using alcohol and drag-rubber like I used to run when I started out in the states. A lot of adjustments will need to be made so I expect I’ll have some serious adapting to do,” Phelps figured.
While the sight of American V8 Dirt Modified drivers on the southern shores is continuing to establish itself as an annual tradition, the thought of an Australian driver contesting races in the United States is becoming more of a reality as the seasons pass.
“I think the chances of an Australian driver racing here is getting better all the time,” divulged Phelps, who precedes Tomkins’ upcoming travels to Lismore and (Feb. 7) and Toowoomba Charlton Speedway (Feb. 14) next month.
Added Jupe, “I’ll just say that as the adoption of the Troyer cars becomes more popular with teams here in Australia, there may be a special reward awaiting the top performing Troyer driver in the near future.”
For more information about V8 Dirt Modified racing in Australia, please visit www.v8dirtmodifieds.com.au or check out www.lismorespeedway.com.au and www.maryboroughspeedway.com.au for specific track material.
Log into www.superdirtcarseries.com for additional news about the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds or surf www.dirtcar.com for notes regarding the entire circuit. DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning Cory Reed can also be contacted at the DIRTcar Northeast Office (315/834-6606) in Weedsport, New York.
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tire and Sunoco Race Fuels. Promotional partners include AMB i.t., Rite Aid Corporation and the University of Northwestern Ohio and the contingency sponsors are Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Integra Shocks, MSD Ignitions, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks and Wrisco Industries.