Dad makes way for rookie Victorian super rod title winner

TEENAGER Michael McDonald hopes his historic triumph in the Victorian Super Rod Championship will be enough to keep him behind the wheel, instead of his father Jeffrey.

Michael became the first rookie to win the state title in more than 40 years when he held off more seasoned challengers in the 25-lap final at Darlington’s Mid-Western Speedway on Sunday night.

The 18-year-old, who crewed for his father last season, took over the driving duties in the car this season.

“We haven’t talked about next season,” he said.

“I will just keep driving it until he tries to kick me out.

“It’s heaps of fun, it’s awesome.”

The first-year apprentice cabinetmaker from Mailors Flat went into the title without much form. He said he had been “terrible” a week earlier at Laang and then he was struck down by a gastro-type illness during the week that kept him off work.

But with Jeffrey and former Victorian champ Matt Clark, of Cobden, working on the car’s set up, he won his first heat, was second in his next and finished fifth in the third after spinning while running second on the slick surface.

It was enough to secure third spot on the grid for the final. He found a way underneath pole-sitter Jason Grayland, of Cobden, coming out of turn two and then a lap later repeated the move under Warrnambool’s Grant Stansfield.

“I just tried to hug the pole line pretty much and drove the tightest race I could,” McDonald said.

“I was just waiting for someone to poke through and get me and no one did.”

Cobden’s Dale Walsh was second, with Stansfield third.

“It was pretty cool, it was pretty unreal,” McDonald said. 

“I didn’t know I was the first rookie to win it. When I found out it was even better.”

He was mobbed by his support crew, which included his mother Kathy, sister Hannah and cousin Kate Saffin, along with his father and Clark.

He attributed his improved form to the set-up.

“Dad went over everything and checked everything after Laang,” McDonald said. 

“The track just suited me, it was a fairly one-lane track.” 

McDonald is no stranger to speedway. He raced junior sedans for four seasons before having a break last season while helping Jeffrey.

He hopes the win won’t be his last, with sights on broadening his racing career.

“Racing a sprintcar over in America would be pretty cool,” he said.

“I would love to have a go at a sprintcar or formula 500 but I am pretty happy where I am now. If I got a chance to race a sprintcar I wouldn’t say no.”

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