TimeattackR.com: Hey Ben, tell us a bit about who you are, and why you first got into motorsport.
Ben: I have always been interested in cars. Initially it was just modifying my daily driver, but slowly my daily drivers got less and less suited to the road. I was drag racing an RX-7 at the local street drags in Darwin and had a work mate convince me to try a track day at Hidden Valley. I was hooked after that first session. I sold the RX-7 when my sons were born, but I missed the cars and fell back into modifying my daily again. I figured I was too old to be butting heads with the law, so I decided to buy a dedicated track car. I was living in NSW by this stage and began hitting Oran Park at every opportunity.
What first drew you to time attack racing and when did you start competing?
I was building the car up as a Sports Sedan, but we moved back to Darwin where there was no Sports Sedan competition. I ended up competing in the super sprints up there and started doing well. When we moved to Adelaide I entered a time attack demonstration at a drifting event and enjoyed the company and competition, despite it raining and ending up 12th fastest and 10-seconds a lap behind the winner.
What was your first time attack vehicle and why did you choose it?
I was modifying my daily JZZ30 Toyota Soarer when I decided to buy a track car, so I purchased another and swapped all the go fast bits across. It was part convenience and partly because I thought the chassis and suspension, being double wishbone would be well suited to motorsport. I did not factor in the sheer mass of the thing though, and the lack of off the shelf support. Looking back I would have had an easier time with the RX-7, but I have learnt a lot from needing to make all my own parts.
What development did this vehicle go through, and what development saw the biggest drop in lap times?
As an amateur, development has been slow but constant. I focused on braking and suspension in the first few years which saw five or six-seconds a lap improvement over stock. After that I took a leaf out of Colin Chapman’s book and ‘added lightness’. My best mate convinced me to try working with carbon fibre and I set about replacing all the steel panels with carbon fibre. About the same time I began reading every aerodynamics textbook I could find and incorporated this new knowledge into the panels. Lap times dropped with the weight. Unfortunately my enthusiasm for carbon and aero put me up a class where I was severely underpowered with my stock driveline. In the last couple of years I have been slowly adding power as I can afford it with high flowed turbos and engine management.
What was the first circuit you ever competed in time attack?
Mallala was my first ever Time Attack ‘event’, however, I had been doing competitive and noncompetitive track days for years before that.
What advice would you give someone thinking of getting into the sport?
Start driving whatever you have. I have friends who embarked on ‘builds’ but lost enthusiasm because they were not driving. Some of the most fun I have had was driving the near stock car on semi-slicks with very little maintenance required. Do something different: the more unique the car the more attention you will get in the pits.
Thanks for chatting with us, is there anybody you would like to thank?
I would like to thank my wife, Kim, for all her support, my boys for helping out in the shed, Glenn at Munro Racing Turbo for the high flows, Kurt’s JZ Customs for the manifolds and piping as well as Grant and Glen at Extreme Street Performance for their perseverance at tuning our oddball creation. I also have some good friends Paul, Andrew, and Aaron with whom I have shared ideas, parts and effort. Without them, I would probably still be watching on TV.