HOBART stonemason Shaun Dobson chiselled himself and veteran Warrnambool car owner Harry Droste into the record books with a dramatic victory in the Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria (SRA) series at Premier Speedway on Saturday night.
Dobson, who entered the grand final third in the points standings, clinched the series’ prize of $10,000 when he finished third in the 30-lap feature.
It was the first time the young driver and team boss Droste, who has owned sprintcars for 25 years, had triumphed in the series.
Melbourne’s Brett Milburn was second in the series after he finished 10th in the final, while the pre-race leader, Dubbo’s Jeremy Cross, had a horror night, failing to progress beyond the C main after two heat race incidents.
Droste was delighted with his team’s success, throwing a pool party yesterday for his driver and crew.
“It’s got to be among the best (achievements),” he said.
“It’s the first series we’ve ever won.
“At the start of the season we set out to do as well as we could in the SRA series. We wanted to enter every race and we did.”
He paid tribute to Dobson and his crew led by chief Freddie Walsh, of Cobden, Warrnambool’s James Mugavin, Jet Speed and Werribee’s Mitch Sires.
“Freddie sets it up so well, Shaun has all the confidence in the car,” Droste said.
Dobson was ecstatic with the result.
“It’s pretty special,” he said.
“It’s the first year we’ve been together as a team. We thought we’d run the SRA series and see how it goes.
“I said to Freddie six races ago that we wouldn’t win it but he said not to give up and kept giving me a good car.
“It feels pretty special.”
Dobson said the victory completed his mission.
“We would have liked to win the Classic and World Series races we did but we have had a pretty consistent year,” he said.
“I couldn’t be happier. I don’t know what to say. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Dobson said the team would tackle the Easter Sprintcar Trail over three nights next month.
The first leg of the three-night series is at Avalon, where he leads the track championship, which carries a first prize of a new Ford Fiesta.
The 21-year-old said he wanted to be part of the team next season and travel a bit more.
But he said with all members having full-time jobs, it was a juggling act.
Dobson works with his father Andrew in Hobart and flies to Melbourne each Friday night or Saturday morning to go racing with the team, while Walsh drives from Cobden two or three nights a week to work on the car.
Dobson started the final five points ahead of Milburn in the series, with the perennial contender forced to progress to the final via the B main. Milburn started from the back of the grid in 18th and Dobson was in fifth.
With a 10-point differential between placings, Dobson knew he just had to finish ahead of Milburn.
He admitted he had to curb his natural instincts of chasing the race win.
“I probably got a bit cautious the last couple of laps. It was about the series,” he said.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve just had to beat the other cars.”
Dobson’s grip on third was seriously challenged by a fast-finishing Jamie Veal, who stormed from position 13 after winning the B main.
He was on Dobson’s tail-tank inside half-race distance and tried everything to run him down over the concluding stages but couldn’t find a way around him.
That battle was in contrast to the one at the front.
Two-time national champion James McFadden, who surged from position six to take the lead on lap six, seemed to have the race won. He had a sizeable lead until Mike Van Bremen broke a rear axle and his wheel bounced across the track in front of a frantic Dobson with 13 laps to go.
McFadden made the break until the yellows came on with eight laps to go for an ailing Mitch Foster. The Queensland-based McFadden sprinted clear at the restart, only for Luke Nash to roll exiting turn two to again halt proceedings.
With seven laps to go, McFadden was out in front from South Australian Daniel Pestka. But Pestka surged in the closing laps and McFadden was baulked by a lapped car. That allowed Pestka to come out of turn four narrowly ahead.