SIMPSON sprintcar driver Tim Rankin has long-time friends to thank for ending one of the sport’s shortest retirements.
Rankin is preparing to open his season in tonight’s Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria series first round at Moama.
The likelihood of Rankin getting behind the wheel of a sprintcar this season seemed impossible when he crashed out of the SRA series grand final at Allansford’s Premier Speedway in March and declared he no longer had the money to compete and would be retiring.
But he revealed Gellibrand supporters Mal and Sandy Davis, who had helped him graduate to sprintcars about seven years ago, stepped in.
“Last year I was retiring because I couldn’t afford to do it myself. They came up and said ‘we can’t let you go, we want you to drive for us’,” Rankin said.
They set up a new team, Glenora Racing, purchased two cars and Rankin is ready to race again.
“It’s great for me because it gets me in the seat and it’s good for Dad (Mal) because it keeps him in the sport. We were all down in the dumps when I said I was going to retire but then they said they would give me a car. ‘No pressure whether you come first or last’, you just have to get out of the car and give them a smile.”
The 24-year-old said he had always struggled to run his own team, secure sponsors and try to fund the operation through working as a tractor driver.
But with a two-year deal with Glenora Racing, he knows he is on a winner before he even lines up on the grid in his opening race of the season. “We’re pretty lucky,” he said.
He had a shakedown last weekend at Premier Speedway in a private test session and liked his new Cool chassis and KRE motor.
“We were very surprised with the way everything went,” he said.
“Everything on the car was brand new. It’s probably been a bit of a confidence boost to run as good as we did.”
He said Glenn Beaton and Dave McFadden had put the car t ogether.
Rankin said he was keeping his first outing low-key.
“I have no expectations, absolutely none,” he said. “I want to win. I still have the hunger to win, but in the end if we don’t win it doesn’t greatly matter. We are out there to have fun and have a good time. That is the thing that let us down the last three seasons. We’ve been crashing out a lot and not enjoying it.”
Rankin said the team would contest the first five rounds of the SRA series and if in contention for the title, would push on with the series. He has committed to most of the World Series Sprintcars shows over the Christmas/New Year period and the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Allansford in January.
He is one of several south-west drivers launching their season at Moama, including defending series champion Darren Mollenoyux, Will Carroll in his sprintcar debut, Tim Van Ginneken, Jack Lee and five-time champion John Vogels.