IT’S a 2000-kilometre trip for a handful of dashes down a 400-metre stretch of bitumen, but Stephen Griffin couldn’t care less.
Winter Nationals has become an annual pilgrimage for the Warrnambool racer, who is again bound for Willowbank Raceway at Ipswich this weekend for the drag racing showcase.
Griffin, 48, yesterday loaded his 1971 LJ Torana in preparation for a trip he hopes will deliver success in the super sedans class.
“In our class there are normally over 100 competitors,” he said.
“We’ve been up the last eight to 10 years — we might’ve missed one or two — and I’ve made the last 10 twice.
“That’s the best I’ve done up there. But I’ve never been eliminated in the first round of a national series round, so that’s a bonus.”
“There’s not a lot of money to be won, it’s the prestige.”
Griffin is one of four Warrnambool racers bound for Ipswich.
Glenn Wooster will ride his Suzuki GSX TL 1000 bike in the pro-stock bike class, one of the elite classes of the meeting.
Tony Frost is in modified bikes aboard his Kawasaki Ninja, while Andrew Johnstone will drive his Holden VT Commodore in super sedans.
Griffin said he had been racing “for the best part of 30 years”, having been raised in a family of mechanics.
He said he enjoyed the competitiveness and social aspect of the sport, but would start Winternats on the back of limited racing.
“I haven’t done much this season,” he said.
“I’ve only done two meetings and won them both.
“I won the doorslammers meeting they had at Portland and the Outlaw meeting they had at Portland a month later. They’re the only meetings I’ve done.
“After I came home from Winternats last year I pulled the car down and had the motor and gearbox re-done, just freshened up.
“I’ve been waiting on that and been busy renovating the house.”
Griffin said the super sedans class used a handicap format, which meant reaction times could be the difference between progression and elimination.
Winternats gets under way tomorrow and runs until Monday.