AMERICAN-BASED Sydneysider Brooke Tatnell has declared “age is no barrier” as he guns for a fourth Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic crown.
The Minnesota resident edged out Kerry Madsen and Luke Dillon in a dramatic 30-lap A-Main final in the three-night showcase’s opener on Friday night.
Tatnell shared an emotional embrace with new car owner Raymond Scott and several crew members after the classy victory, which arrived just months after the 46-year-old was dumped from the Krikke Motorsport car for Warrnambool driver Jamie Veal.
Tatnell revealed confidence was flowing ahead of Sunday night’s main feature.
“You don’t want to count your chickens, but this rooster is crowing,” he quipped post-race.
“A lot of people had written us off. People say you’re past it but my Dad didn’t win an Australian title until he was 50.
“Age is no barrier. I screwed up last week (at Avalon) because I’m excited to be in a race car.”
The three-time champion said he felt rejuvinated after three months out of a car.
“I want to be in a racecar, 24-7. The last time I’d been out of a racecar this long, it was when I had a broken neck and back,” he said.
“I got to have three months off still working in Minnesota. I tell you, when you’re pounding nails in four inches of snow, you wish you were in a racecar.
“My wife is an elite triathlete, and an amazing woman. She turned around and said ‘if you’re going to be racing, you’re going to be training’. She has me enthused and revived and just hammering away."
Tatnell paid tribute to the Scott Motorsport team for its role in the triumph.
“They’re the reason I’m able to drive like that,” he said.
“They are a race team. They may not have the most experience in winning races, but Ray said to me ‘if we’re going to do this thing, we’re going to do it right’.
“He said ‘I’ve got to get you the best crew chief in the country – who do you want?’ and I said there’s only one best crew chief in this country that has made Brooke Tatnell and made Brooke Tatnell’s career. It’s Pete Caporn.
“He just bleeds confidence in me.”
Veal hit the turn four wall, with half a lap to run, forcing a re-start.
Tatnell held Madsen off to make it back-to-back night one wins at the Classic after taking out the feature 12 months ago.
Crashes cost multiple drivers spots in the finale, including Queenslander Robbie Farr who held an early lead, with the race finishing at 11.45pm at Premier Speedway.
Impressive teenager Rusty Hickman and American ace Tim Kaeding recovered from a dramatic heat crash to produce the drives of the night.
Both progressed from the C-Main to the A-Main.
Hickman was in contention for a top-five finish in the feature before hitting the wall and crashing out with 10 laps to run.
Kaeding, the 2014 Classic winner, finished top four in the C-Main and advanced to the B-Main where his daring style saw him scoot from 19th to fourth with eight laps to run.
He then propelled himself to the front to take the win and make the finale in a drive for the ages.
A flat tyre cost Kaeding his spot in the A-Main.
Allansford’s Jake Smith, who finished second, and Brett Milburn, who crossed the line in fourth, also progressed.
David Murcott was involved in a crash on turn two, just three laps into the race, and Farr, who was leading, was caught in one with 19 laps to go.