Recovered from serious burns, Terang driver launches US campaign

Sprintcar driver Jack Lee is ready to open the throttle on the tough US speedway circuit.

Sprintcar driver Jack Lee is ready to open the throttle on the tough US speedway circuit.

TERANG driver Jack Lee wants to make up for lost time when he embarks on a hectic sprintcar racing schedule in the United States next week.

Lee, who suffered serious burns to his legs in a racing incident on December 26, missed much of the domestic season, including the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at his home track, Allansford’s Premier Speedway.

But the 22-year-old returned to the cockpit for five events at the end of the season, including the Easter Sprintcar Trail, fuelling his desire to get more time behind the wheel.

He found his time watching from the pits frustrating.

“You want to race that time of the year when all the good guys are in town,” Lee said.

His burns have healed and despite some scarring he has been back at work for three months.

Healthy and fit, Lee said he was looking forward to flying on Monday to Ohio, where he will be based for six weeks.

“I’m hoping to do 15 to 20 nights,” he said.

He won’t have long to settle in. He is planning to contest nine events in nine nights in the Ohio Sprint Speedweek, which opens next Friday (US time). Speedweek, part of the All Star Circuit of Champions series, will see him race at famous tracks like Eldora, Attica and Fremont. His tour will end with the Miler Speedweek, a four-night show from July 24-28.

The earthmoving contractor said he would then assess his options, picking and choosing events close to his base in Chillicothe.

Lee had a motor shipped to America and he bought a Maxim chassis over there in readiness for his first solo campaign on US soil.

He raced in America two years ago on his first trip to the sport’s home, driving in a handful of races for six-time Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic winner Danny Smith.

Smith’s grandson Dave, who has stayed with the Lees during visits to Australia, has been putting together his car, with help from another American Bud Kaeding, who drove Lee’s car at this year’s Classic.

Lee and his Australian crew member Chris Grayland have realistic ambitions.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener when I did race there,” he said.

“It’s really tough over there. (Two-time Australian champion) James McFadden won at Fremont recently, people don’t realise how tough that is. I’m just hoping to make some feature races. I’m not really going with expectations.”

Lee, who crewed for Danny Smith at the sport’s world championship the Knoxville Nationals two years ago, said the trip was part of broadening his racing experience for the domestic season.

He said the six-week break from work with his family’s Lilley’s Lane Quarry was about as long as he could manage. 

Without the support, he would have been unable to make the trip.

Lee will be joined in the US by good mate and Warrnambool driver Jamie Veal, who is becoming a regular visitor in the Australian off-season. They expect to see plenty of each other, along with American Danny Smith.

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