Young Willsher inspired to win his grandfather’s race 

FORMULA 500 drivers know it as the Jack Willsher Cup. Dylan Willsher calls it “Pa’s cup”.

And he would happily forego any other accolade — including a national title — to get his hands on the sought-after trophy.

“If I won this race on Saturday, I’d honestly retire. I want to win it more than the Australian title, more than anything,” he said yesterday.

“My pa is my best mate, the biggest influence on my career. I’m probably closer to my pa than my dad.”

Dylan, 20, is one of 40 drivers who will contest the Jack Willsher Cup at Premier Speedway tomorrow night.

The 20-lap race is part of a twin feature night at the Allansford track, which includes a round of the Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria series.

Dylan is among the most inexperienced drivers in the field, but has arguably more motivation than his higher-profile rivals.

Should he do so, he would become the first Willsher family member to clinch the cup in its 10-year history.

Dylan placed “seventh or eighth” in his race debut last year.

His father, Darryl, led it three times but late-race dramas ended hopes of a fairytale victory.

Dylan said his grandfather, who raced formula 500s for 48 years, had been a “huge” influence on his career, both financially and on his driving.

“He keeps me calm when something goes wrong and makes sure I don’t get fired up. It’s just little things like that. He’s been the biggest influence,” Dylan said.

“I probably wouldn’t be racing 500s if it wasn’t for him.”

His father, who had a 25-year career, also played a key role, most notably knowing when to step aside to let his son jump behind the wheel.

“I was 16 or 17 at the time. I was nagging and nagging him. I’d raced motorbikes up until then,” Dylan said. “It was me hounding him to let me race. I’ve slowly kicked him out.”

Dylan enters the Jack Willsher Cup in the best form of his three-season career.

He placed fourth in the South Australian title a fortnight ago and backed up by clean sweeping the King of the Bridge at Murray Bridge last weekend.

They were victories he put down to a mid-year trip to the US, where he worked as a crew member for three months.

“My first year I won a couple of features and went really well and last year everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” he said.

“This year has started off really well.”

Dylan said maintaining speed was crucial for formula 500 drivers at Premier Speedway.

“Getting momentum up is the biggest thing — keeping momentum and not getting stuck in traffic or running the bottom all the time,” he said.

“Premier is cool because Saturday night and on January 1 you roll out and see the crowd and see the atmosphere.

“They’re the two biggest nights we get to run on.”

Gates for Premier Speedway’s twin feature open at 4pm. Action on the track starts from 5.30pm.

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