A new team littered with the who's who of Australian sport is aiming to win the 50th South West Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic on Sunday night. Hodges Motorsport - a passion project for Warrnambool-raised Tim Hodges - is hoping James McFadden can drive into victory lane. The Standard will introduce the team to speedway fans in each edition this week. First to answer the tough questions is esteemed Australian broadcaster Gerard Whateley, who is a part owner.
How on earth did you end up agreeing to be involved with this deal?
Once I saw the proposal for Hodges Motorsport and Tim's ambition to win the race he's loved since he was a kid, I simply had to be part of the project.
I'm not certain Tim could initially see me as an investor in the sprintcar scene... I told him to shut up and take my money.
Be honest, how many people didn't believe you when you said you part own a sprintcar team?
I love horsepower but that's always been thoroughbred racing and I've long been a devotee of the Warrnambool Grand Annual - in May over the jumps.
It's fair to say no one had me pegged for speedway action.
Tell us about your relationship with Tim?
Tim and I have worked together for more than 20 years dating back to our Channel Ten days in the newsroom, on Ten News and Sports Tonight.
He's produced more than 1000 episodes of AFL360 on Fox Footy. In this industry you're blessed if you find a great producer you can collaborate with long term and Tim is that for me.
Given all he's done for me, the chance to share in his passion project is a joy.
You love sport when everything is on the line - from your AFL calling to Test cricket, Spring Carnival and the Super Bowl - is it exciting to be attending something that is sheep stations in this sport... the 50th classic title, the record prize purse, the enormous field?
Main event sport is what gets the pulse racing.
When all the planning and scheming, hoping and dreaming goes on the line in one great match or race.
It's my great privilege to witness and broadcast these moments around the world
For all that I don't know about speedway that much I'm sure I'll feel when we get there on the big night.
What do you know about speedway?
I know we have the best looking car.
What are you expecting at Premier Speedway?
I'm expecting an education and a thrill. To experience a great community event with its own rituals and charms. And I know we'll face stiff competition given the spoils on offer.
What can you bring to the table... any idea mechanically?
By the end of the summer holidays we're off a sustained period of family Mario Kart racing. If James McFadden needs advice about sliding into turns, taking out opponents and trash talking rival drivers I have a 10-year-old son tuned up and ready to go.
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