A WA grown motorsport not just for bogans and rev heads
You've probably heard of Formula 1 and NASCAR and if that's the case, you would know your chances of seeing them live in Perth is slim to none. So satisfy those petrol head cravings with the lesser-known, but no less competitive, motorsport of Late Models.
So what's the difference between Formula 1 and Late Models? Well for starters racing is on a dirt track, which means no two races are alike with drivers having to assess the ground beneath them as they rush over it at speeds in excess over 160 kilometres per hour.
The cars themselves have a comparable power to weight ratio to Formula 1 vehicles. With 850 horsepower motors capable of turning over 9,000 revs per minute these noisy beasts are regarded as the most sophisticated cars in this type of racing. But that doesn't mean they are easy to handle on the track.
While they are designed specifically for dirt tracks and designed to be able to handle the uneven surface and power slide around the corners, in reality, the purpose built suspension struggles over the bumps and the tyres search for traction as the driver uses his or her judgment and instinct to control the car.
Even experienced drivers may at times misjudge the track surface or the manoeuvres of another driver resulting in what can be some heart stopping collisions with each other or with the thick, solid wall around the track. There is a reason for the high and sturdy metal cage on top of this wall – if a car rolls or flips it's a good idea to make sure all one tonne of it stays trackside.
No need to worry for the drivers though, despite what on occasion may look unlikely, once the tow trucks have separated the cars they climb out unscathed – at least physically anyway. Bitter disappointment and at about $125,000 a car, a silent prayer that the damage isn't as bad as it looks.
The division of Late Models was actually created in Western Australia as Late Model Racing Australia (inc) in the 1997-1998 season, with their Perth debut at the then Claremont Speedway (now home to the Perth Royal Show) in the second season. The division is now popular throughout Australia with a new national committee being formed in 2011 resulting in the local body changing its name to the more apt Late Model Racing Western Australia.
We are now fortunate to have what is arguably the best facility for dirt track racing right on our doorstep at the Perth Motorplex in Kwinana Beach.
While it may cost a few dollars more at some tracks, including the Perth Motorplex, it's worth considering a ticket that allows access to the competitor area known as "the pits". For some, the time in between the races may be the highlight of the motorsport with the opportunity to meet and greet the drivers, get a photo or an autograph, see the pit crew in action and even find out firsthand what its like to sit at the wheel.
Most drivers and owners are family teams and if they aren't too busy repairing damage they're more than happy to share their love of cars with anyone who'll listen. Kids play at being a member of the pit crew helping wash down the cars and fetching tools for their dads and uncles while mums encourage them to wear themselves out as much as possible running about on the grass.
For others, the best part of the night will always be the roar of the engines as the lights go green and the race gets underway.