On December the 30th, the Ramsdale Wreckers Racing team headed to Sonic Speedway at Swan Hill for what driver Jacob Mills hope becomes a new frequent venue and event for the class. In a new event, Mills competed in the Northern Mallee Masters and came out on top after a rough and tough night of action that provided some competitors unwanted big hits and damage. Mills himself was one of those damaged and potentially bound to pack the Production Sedan into the transport trailer early.
In the end things turned out positively for Jacob, going on to win the event from buddy Scotty Hawkins from Leeton in New South Wales and Toby Carmichael, interestingly all three front running cars are part of the Mills Racing and Dyno stable run by his father who builds race cars and engines and dyno tunes engines.
Commenting on the nights action Jacob Mills had this to say. “Let me say thank you to Neil and Toby Carmichael for organising with the Swan Hill Club for the event and sponsoring the race also. I know myself, my father, and the Hawkins team in particular came here to support our friend Paul Salau whose part of the Swan Hill club also, along with the Carmichaels at their home track, and we really do love the venue and the people of the Swan Hill Club. So, thank you guys. It is an honour to be the first in the history to win the event, we encourage you to continue it and we will come back for sure.”
Regarding the rough and tough night at the track for many of the competitors Mills added. “Like all sports teams and sports people, we pass the entry point onto the field of play, in our case the racetrack, buzzing with adrenalin and excitement and sometimes things go a little awry and that has probably occurred for some of us tonight at some point.
This was not the best example of what our great class can do. We do hope Swan Hill go ahead with the Northern Mallee Classic next season and perhaps extend the class as a club class so that they can grow here also, in the future we would like to come back with potential twenty car fields with Horsham, Corowa, Leeton, Wagga Wagga and Wangaratta already having more than twenty cars in those clubs alone, there is no reason we can’t do that.” Mills concluded.
The nights racing for Jacob got off to a horrible start when a spun car ahead of him in the first heat on lap two on a track that was four races old for the night and still settling down left him with nowhere to go as others got themselves tangled trying not to slam into the stricken competitor ahead.
The Mills car was towed infield with panel damage, a broken shock after it was ripped out of the top hat and a broken right hand side tower. It could have been much worst and that was what Mills and his father suspected. Mills Junior then checked under the car and thought briefly that he needed to change a steering rack. To the relief of Mills, he discovered that the knuckle was touching the engine block and all that was required was to twist the rack to get the knuckle off the block.
Rushing to make heat two which was only five races later, the team were still not on the dummy grid as the field was about to enter the track, so a call was put through to the Chief Steward for two minutes grace. Mills made it out onto the track well before the two minutes and went on to win taking the lead from lap four of the race. During this qualifier, another huge incident occurred behind Mills which seen the demise of his own father Trevor for the night. This crash depleted the field for the evening with severe rear end damage to Trevor’s car and front-end damage to Paul Salau’s car.
Setting up for the third heat race and with a little advice from dad, Mills and his crew which included Joel Dunkley, Mark Barton and support from Justin Hawkins changed the rear springs and the panard bar, purely for set up.
According to Mills, heat three was a terrific race against Stephen Laidlaw. With Laidlaw winning and Mills giving some morse code taps on the back bumper. “Dad, Stephen, and I to a certain extent have given each other a little bump and rub over the years, its all part of the racing and trying to force a mistake out of each other on tracks that vary in width sometimes being flat, sometimes having camber, sometimes being twelve metres wide and sometimes twenty metres, you have to find a way, we are not playing a game of follow the leader here.
We know the rules say the Stewards are watching for excessive contact and contact that impedes our competitors, we take it as far as we can. I thought it was a great race that I didn’t win. However, it consolidated us on the front row for the feature race.” Shared Mills.
For the feature event with support provided by ‘Carmichael 4WD Accessories and Wheel Alignments and NJC Irrigation Solutions’ Mills a one-time national champion lined up with two times former Australian champion Laidlaw on the front row with Toby Carmichael and Scott Hawkins on the second row.
A lot has been said already and is going to be said, however after watching video footage Jacob Mills confirmed that it shows the lead two racing into turn one with Laidlaw that little bit ahead, however on the outside of Mills. As the two went deeper into turn one Laidlaw caught a little wash on the marbles however was still on the gas as was Mills whilst a gap between the pole line and Laidlaw widened allowing Mills to pull off a pass as they darted into turn two putting his nose in front.
Mills chose and ran his line out of turn two and as the lead car he stuck to his line. Unfortunately for Laidlaw he ran out of room and hit the back straight concrete wall, however the green light was still on as the car was not put out of action.
Mills advised that he didn’t want to focus too much on what happened next however understood it’s a massive part of the result and to save people needing to ask he offered this comment. “I am a racer and I do not want to add more fuel to the fire, as far as I am concerned its done and its over. The Stewards made the call that I was deliberately crashed into as I was sliding into turn three, that is not an opinion, that is a fact. A black flag was given to Stephen, and I went on to have a tough close race with Scott Hawkins and took out the win. As far as I am concerned, it is done, and we all will go door to door at the next big show once again.”
Onto thanking those that matter to him as a race driver, Jacob thanked a few people. “Of course, I want to thank Russell and Sara at Ramsdale Wreckers. This is a big deal for us, we are taking this seriously as far as how we conduct ourselves, present and compete for the good of everybody involved, however we are also intending to have a fun time along the way, and they give us that opportunity.
I got to thank dad. Not only does he continually provide expert set up advice coming from somebody who’s done this racing caper for decades, he is contributing long hours in the shed during the week whilst I am off at work on my car before Jack Bear (Fellow competitor) and myself can join him after work. I want him to know this is very much appreciated.
Thank you to Jack who chips in on our cars after work during the week also. He has to get his car ready for racing also and spends time with us to get ours ready also. Like me he has to go to work before working on race cars also, so it’s very much appreciated.
I want to thank Bec Slattery (Partner) whilst Dad, Jack and myself are working on the race car she is busy doing things like getting the transport trailer set up and tidy. She does all the behind-the-scenes stuff outside of the race car maintenance and when we give the car a wash, it is also just Bec and myself. When it comes to my race gear preparation, it is also her that makes sure I have everything ready.
I want to thank Joel from Dunkley Panels and Towing, not only a sponsor, but also an enthusiastic crew member. Mark Barton came to work on dad’s car predominately and ended up working with us all night and it is much appreciated. I also wanted to thank Scott and Justin Hawkins, those boys pitched in to make sure we got back out there also, importantly for me, these boys a relaxing and love a laugh, I hope they come racing alongside us many times this season so we can continue to laugh and enjoy racing.” Concluded Mills.
Mills is looking forward to an event that for him means as much to perform well in and potentially win as a title, certainly the equal to if not a little more prestigious than a state title, the Bob Bailey Memorial. This event will be at Wangaratta City Raceway on January the 14th.
Jacob Mills would like to thank the following supporters:
Mills Racing Engines & Dyno Tuning
Dunkley Panels & Towing
Stewart’s Contracting Solutions
DMT Sports Media
Media written by Speedcafe contributor DMT Sports Media – Dean Thompson