Decorated stalwart primed
FORTY years, 33 gold Christmas trees, 15 national championships, countless records and a lot of hard work from the whole family.
These are the elements that make up the remarkable career of Hillcrest professional drag racer Gary Phillips.
Fifty-seven-year-old Phillips will be in action for both rounds of Willowbank Raceway's New Year Series (January 2-3 and 14-15) as part of his landmark 40th consecutive season involved in the sport.
He is celebrating at the top of his game as the reigning National Top Alcohol champion.
Tomorrow and Monday will see him take to the Ipswich quarter-mile aboard his Lucas Oil Products Top Alcohol Funny Car, before he backs up less than two weeks later in his Lucas Oil Products Top Doorslammer.
The past four decades have seen Phillips race in everything from the grassroots categories back in the 1970s to the ‘big guns' of the sport – Top Alcohol and Top Doorslammer – with 14 national championships in the former and one in the latter, and almost too many gold Christmas tree trophies (major events) to count.
“After 40 years in the sport you have to keep looking for new challenges and the next milestone and we have been able to do that,” Phillips said.
“For me the thrill of it is still there but also the mechanical side of it and how that constantly evolves really interests me.
“Over the years, the performance in the sport has just gone up and up and the margin for error has virtually disappeared, so you have to be on your game and giving it 100 percent which helps keep us enthused.
“There is always a challenge. This weekend I think the fans can expect some really competitive and exciting qualifying, and some great racing.”