A GENTLE nudge is being credited for Michael Coad's leap from super rods to sprintcar racing.
The Cobden competitor was a master of his class, winning in excess of 30 feature races, before he was encouraged to "step it up".
Coad, 29, is now four races into his sprintcar career, having debuted in Max's Race at Premier Speedway prior to Christmas.
He is adjusting to a different driving style, including going anti-clockwise around the dirt circuit, while relishing the chance to compete alongside Australia's best.
"A person who kind of wants to remain anonoymous said 'mate, I've been watching you race and it's time for you to step it up'," Coad told The Standard.
"I never thought of being good enough to compete in sprintcars, the level is just (amazing). To compete against someone like James McFadden is just crazy.
"He is ultra professional. But then everyone you speak to is like 'you have to do it and at least give it a try'.
"My team is only new, just like me, so we're learning heaps.
"Just getting laps is a big enough highlight and once we've got the confidence we'll try and make our way forward."
Coad, a multiple Victorian super rods champion, said adapting to a sprintcar would take time and patience.
"These are big, powerful machines and that big wing on top is just crazy for what it does to the car," he said.
"Super rods go the opposite direction, so there's a bit of a running joke at the moment of 'how are you going unwinding yourself?"
Crashes are a part of the sport. The rookie found himself in one on Saturday night at Premier's New Year's Day meeting.
Coad collected the fence between turns three and four, forcing a delay as repairs were made.
"You mentally prepare yourself that it's going to happen a little bit, if that make sense," he said.
"You always have really good safety gear and make sure everything is 110 per cent.
"One of my little things is when I do crash I always make sure I move in the car so mum knows I am OK.
"Mum (Marianne) and dad (Barry) follow me around to most of my races and that's one of those things I like to do (to allay their fears)."
Coad, who is supported by the Billings family, is content with the team's early qualifying efforts.
Races are proving an eye-opener but he's relishing the chance to compete and test himself.
"It is quite difficult to go from being a frontrunner to being a backrunner for a while and having to learn to get lapped again," he said.
"And feeling whether you're doing it right, you want to put your best foot forward and do it right on the track and not be too much of a hindrance to other drivers."
Coad, who works as a technician for GEA, was introduced to motorsport in high school.
His interest piqued, he opted to commit himself.
"I bought an old chassis and chipped away at it from there and upgraded gear slowly over the years," Coad said.
"I've built my cars basically from the ground up, not many people can do that.
"People notice young kids having a crack and doing everything from the ground up, if that make sense, and I think that's where you build that appreciation for your equipment.
"I have had opportunities to drive for a few different teams over the years and it's because of those basic foundations at the bottom."
Sprintcars are his focus for now, allowing girlfriend Megan, who has a background in go-karts, a chance to race his super rod.
She will compete at Avalon this weekend.
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