As a zookeeper for Taronga Western Plains Zoo, it is no surprise that 22 year old Jake Williams is confident around a wide array of exotic beasts – from rare Black Rhinos to hard-charging race cars.
Next weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park, it will be his skill with mechanical beasts that will be on show, when he hits the track as part of the Australian Manufacturers Championship Australian Four Hour (11-13 July).
When he isn’t racing, the Dubbo resident is responsible for the daily care of 10 Black Rhinos, 9 Cheetahs, 10 African Wild Dogs and 8 Galapogas Tortoises.
“When people hear about my job they are usually pretty surprised, before getting excited and exclaiming how lucky I am – and I agree with them!” said Williams, who holds a Cert II in Animal Studies and a Cert III in Captive Animal Management.
“I am very lucky to be able to do such an amazing and rewarding job. A typical day can find me doing anything from cleaning, feeding, training and medicating to bringing pairs together for breeding or simply building relationships with these amazing animals.
“I absolutely love it, and am looking forward to continuing to build on my work of educating people about conservation and caring for the rare species we have, while developing my own skills and knowledge.”
Williams is one of two-drivers for the Sydney-based Conroy Motorsport, and will travel from his Dubbo home to Sydney Motorsport Park to take the wheel of the #21 Class D Disc Brakes Australia Honda Integra alongside co-driver Geoff Rands.
“While people are surprised to find out I am a zookeeper – let’s face it, it isn’t that much of a common profession – they are even more surprised to find out I am also a racer!” said Williams, who is supported on-track by Repco Abel Service, Disc Brakes Australia, Conroy Motorsport and Hankook.
“There is some overlap in the two fields as far as what you need to succeed – achieving this dream job of mine took a lot of persistence and determination and some sacrifices. It also demands focus, consistency, a calm and positive energy and fitness – as it can be very labour intensive.
“All of these areas relate back to motorsport and also to success in life in general I think, so while it takes a bit of work to balance these two areas of my life logistically, as far as mentally it isn’t too hard to transition from ‘zookeeper’ mode to ‘driver’ mode.”
Williams opened the 2014 AMCHAMP season with a bang by securing the Class win and fourth outright at Sandown Raceway with Rands, before going on to secure third for the class in a hard-fought Phillip Island round two.
“Sydney Motorsport is a great, fast track and I have had good success there in the past, I really enjoy racing in Sydney so I can’t wait to get on track,” said the 2011 Class D AMCHAMP Endurance Champion who was also the Class winner at last year’s SMP round of the Series.
“This season has definitely had its ups and downs already but that is motorsport! For the rest of the season we will have to wait and see what happens, you can never really know what to expect.
“I can’t wait to get back in the car – I really enjoy racing in the AMCHAMPS, it offers good racing and endurance style competition which really appeals to me.
“Terry (Conroy) is great to drive for and he supplies a fantastic and reliable car and a hard-working team, it is a pleasure driving for Conroy Motorsport and you can rest assured we will be going as hard as we can for the final three rounds of our title chase!”
When Williams hits the track he will be part of the strongest AMCHAMP field of the season so far, with 21 entries taking to the track for the tough Australian Four Hour.
Action will be guaranteed across the entire field, which will also include the expansion of the Seton racing dynasty when 15 year old Aaron Seton joins his father and two-time Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercar Champion Glenn Seton at the wheel of the Pro-Duct Mitsubishi X alongside car owner/driver Bob Pearson, while Aaron’s grandfather Barry ‘Bo’ Seton – the 1965 Bathurst 500 champion – will work with the team in a management and tactical capacity. For more on this entry,please click here.
The Australian Four Hour will also feature several highly competitive Mitsubishi Lance EVO challengers and a fleet of highly competitive BMWs, while the debut of an Audi TT RS will add another brand to the outright mix. The class battles will also step up a notch with a second Renault joining the field and the return of the Michael Benton / Geoff Russel FPV GT Falcon set to add to the Aussie presence.
The Australian Manufacturers Championship, part of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals, allows a wide-ranging list of vehicles sold in the domestic automotive market to take to the track and compete for a prestigious CAMS title.
The two-pronged Championship awards the vehicle manufacturer, as well as the ultimately successful driver, with six separate classes making up the Championship to provide one of the most eclectic fields of competitors in Australian motorsport.
Featuring everything from high-performance vehicles all the way through to those running on alternative energy, the Australian Manufacturers Championship places style alongside muscle, ingenuity versus agility, and continent against continent across five national circuit racing events:
Round One – 28-30 March, Sandown Raceway – Sandown 3 Hour Classic
Round Two – 23-25 May, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit – Great Southern 4 Hour
Round Three – 11-13 July, Sydney Motorsport Park – Australian 4 Hour
Round Four – 8-10 August, Queensland Raceway – 2 x 200km races
Round Five – 17-19 October, Wakefield Park