AMERICAN jet Davey Ray is anticipating a racy track will deliver action aplenty for the 74th Australian Speedcar Championship at Premier Speedway.
The Indianapolis-based driver is among 51, and four from the US, chasing success on the Allansford high banks tomorrow and Saturday.
Ray, a three-time Aus-tralian champion, got his first glimpse of the track during scrutineering yesterday afternoon and took part in practice last night.
His early impressions brought a smile to his face. He is confident he can add a fourth title to a resumé which also includes four Magic Man 34 crowns.
“I thought ‘what a facility’,” Ray said.
“The pits are nice. The grandstands surrounding the entire track is good for the spectators.
“That’s one thing we need to concentrate on in our sport, making it nice for the crowd to come out.
“And then the track itself looks really racy. I’m happy to see that going into the race. I think that’s going to produce some really good action.”
Ray, who landed in Australia last week and ran third in the Victorian title last weekend, is among the favourites to win the first championship at Premier.
The 36-year-old third-generation racer grew up at Davenport, Iowa, and stepped into a go-kart for the first time aged 11.
He won more than 200 feature races in the class before trading a go-kart for a midget — the American equivalent of a speedcar — in 1997.
A preliminary feature as part of the 2007 Chili Bowl, nicknamed the “Superbowl of midget racing”, is among his career highlights.
But his major successes have been Down Under. His Australian title wins were in 2006 (Parramatta), 2008 (Perth) and 2011 (Lismore, NSW).
He has also dominated the Magic Man 34, a race which celebrates the life of the late Michael Figliomeni, winning consecutively from 2009-12.
But securing drives has never been easy.
As Ray lists his successes in midget racing, he notes many have been for different car owners.
“I’ve earned my way into cars, knocked on the door or made many phone calls to get in those cars,” he said.
“Coming from where I grew up, that’s quite an accomplishment for myself.
“Others excel in their careers easier by having a lot of support and backing.
“The way things are going, the trend in our series is there are younger and younger drivers, they’re fully funded with anything they need.
“They’re taking up the seats in some of the high-quality cars and that makes things tougher yet.”
He describes himself as “one of the younger guys of the old-school generation”.
“A guy like Jerry Coons is a little bit older than me but he grew up the same as I did, knocking on doors and clawing at anything,” Ray said.
“There’s a lot of pride in what we do.
“Being welcomed back to Australia and demand a high-quality car with the De Rosa family is really satisfying.”
Ray, who could yet finish the summer racing a sprintcar in New South Wales, encouraged fans to get trackside at Premier this weekend.
Fellow Americans Alex Bright, Jerry Coons jnr and Tyler Thomas are also among the title contenders.
Defending champion Adam Clarke and two-time Speedcar Pro Series winner Dayne Kingshott are the leading Australian hopes.
“We put on a really good show nearly everywhere we go. It’s a lot closer quarters racing with these little cars. It’s hand-to-hand combat,” Ray said.