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Being best a mental test

Mental strength is a trait found in many successful racecar drivers and WA sprintcar racer Adrian Haywood knows all about forging ahead through tough times.

The advantage may be what he needs to figure in the results of the DiCandilo Steel City Australian 360 Sprintcar Title, being held this weekend at Perth Motorplex.

Last season the gym owner broke his back while racing a Formula 500, leading to a lengthy recovery.

For a man who had walked the Kokoda Track and made his living around physical activity it was a difficult time.

“Now I could forget that it ever even happened,” Haywood said. “I am back to what I was doing before the accident.

“I’ve even had a wreck that was a lot worse than the one when I broke my back, though I landed better, and I think that proved my back is OK.

“Mentally I am in a good space with it all and physically I am all good.”

Haywood had the opportunity to put some of the motivational techniques he uses for gym clients to work on his own psyche.

“Whatever I am doing that is really gruelling, I get into the head space of someone I want to aspire to,” he said.

“In speedway if you have good equipment and you are comparable as a driver to others, then the only thing left is your fitness and I like to know I am fitter than any competitor out on the track.”

Physical fitness comes into its own particularly when cars are misbehaving, Haywood believes.

“When the car has not been perfect it can be tiring to muscle around, though when the car is right they are quite easy to drive.

“I did a 30-lap feature a few weeks ago and felt I could have done another 30, but I have also felt knackered after 20 lap races in the past too.”

The running of the DiCandilo Steel City Australian 360 Sprintcar Title was a big reason why Haywood decided to join the division this season.

“Having the national title here was something to work towards, it sealed the deal for me,” he said.

“I’m pretty excited to do be able to do it all in front of people I have grown up with, people who know me in business and so on.

“The 360s are everything I was hoping they would be. While I enjoyed Formula 500s, they didn’t have the speed and enjoyment I was looking for, particularly around the Motorplex.

“But the 360 has plenty of throttle and it goes real quick and there is a lot happening, it is not something you pick up quick and I wanted that challenge.”

Haywood will be rolling out a new look on his car for the event and said he would be chasing some more consistency from his driving.

“I can put together good laps as quick as anyone racing but it is consistently doing that, lap after lap, that is the challenge.”

The DiCandilo Steel City Australian 360 Sprintcar Title takes place this Friday and Saturday night at Perth Motorplex, with tickets free for kids.

Ben Van Ryt's unique path into speedway will culminate in a shot at the Australian 360 Sprintcar Title this weekend. Picture: Richard Hathaway
Ben Van Ryt’s unique path into speedway will culminate in a shot at the Australian 360 Sprintcar Title this weekend. Picture: Richard HathawayPicture: Richard Hathaway

Sprintcars become reality for Van Ryt

Ben Van Ryt will compete at the DiCandilo Steel City Australian 360 Sprintcar Title this weekend with a top-10 goal in mind.

The former star of reality TV show House Rules has been plenty busy with business and family life but is making some time to enjoy his racing this Friday and Saturday night.

“I reckon it is a brilliant opportunity for local racers to compete on home turf and have an upper hand — a bit of local track knowledge is a great thing,” he said.

“We’d love to just to go out there and have fun and bring home a decent result and a straight car. Top 10 is realistic and top five would be an absolute dream.”

Van Ryt had been a long time speedway fan and in the period following his television appearances he did some radio work with 96fm, getting to know breakfast presenter and speedway racer Brad Fitzgerald.

“We finished up House Rules in 2012 and I got to be mates with Fitzi, one thing led to another and we started a Wingless Sprint team and then we jumped into a 360 Sprintcar.

“Speedway is something I have grown up with and it has been great to experience what it is like on the other side of the fence.”

Seat time has proved to be a challenge for Van Ryt, with the balance of work, home and fun a delicate one.

“I would love to get more racing in, I love being in the car and every time I go out there I get a better understanding of myself and the team.”

Steve Aldridge has taken delivery of a Plymouth Barracuda.
Steve Aldridge has taken delivery of a Plymouth Barracuda.

Aldridge adds Cuda to team

Drag racer Steve Aldridge and the Crown Security Top Doorslammer team have been showing potential beyond the capacity of their 20-year-old chassis.

That potential may be realised next season with the news that Aldridge has taken delivery of a Plymouth Barracuda to step his operation up to the next level.

The ‘Cuda formerly belonged to Frank Mamone, who raced it to a runner-up position at the recent Westernationals.

“Our Chev has been a great car for the past six seasons, but now is the time to move to something that will be on-weight and therefore more competitive,” Aldridge said. “Only then will we see what this team is really capable of.”

Aldridge said he was drawn to the ’Cuda because of its unique body shape and the fact that the Hemi motor is native to the original.

“I was originally attracted to my ’55 Chev because it was different, and I like the idea that the ’Cuda is a little bit different too.

“It is more aerodynamic and being only a couple of years old has been built using more modern techniques and state of the art components.”

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