In the Australian Drag Racing fraternity some drivers claim that they were born in to the sport, as if a surname or lineage of Drag Racers in the family can somehow seal their fate as an addict to the quarter mile.
The funny thing is though, there’s an element of truth to this claim and in the case of Robert Winterburn, nephew of long-serving Willowbank Raceway board member and formed President John ‘Stomper’ Winterburn, it was all-but a done deal that Rob would carry on the family’s affinity with the track.
“This was my fifth Winternationals just past, I’ve been racing in Super Street for quite a long time,” begins the Queensland racer, who toured his Commodore race car up and down the East Coast of Australia to 400 Thunder meetings to secure enough Championship points to wander in to the final round of the season with an unassailable lead.
That’s not to say it was a walk in the park! “Very few people in Super Street will do the traveling as that’s the hardest part,” begins Winterburn who himself fronted up to Sydney twice throughout the season, as well as both rounds at his local track Willowbank to string together a Championship-winning season.
“The car is faultless but the driver is average!” he jests, before going on to say that after a spate of silver medals, he had his eyes firmly fixed on gold this time around. “I’ve been Bridesmaid a few times now,” he explains, which meant the Championship points tally wasn’t his focus throughout the season; he and the crew focussed more on getting the job done and going round-to-round.
The dependability of the package attracted Winterburn to try his hand at the newly-instigated Top Sportsman Shootout at the Winternationals – a one-shot, heads up race favouring repeatable Reaction Time/Dial In packages, which is where Winterburn reckons he and the crew excel. “I really enjoyed the Sportsman Shootout; it really put a lot of the fun back in to racing. We pride ourselves on putting together a stout package every pass. That’s the kind of racing we favour.”
Despite nerves heading in to the final round of the season, Winterburn and the crew had amassed an astonishing three-round lead in terms of points ahead of the Winternationals. “Both of my closest opponents went out in the first round which took a lot of the edge off,” he admits. But don’t for a second think that was cause for an early celebration – “I didn’t start celebrating until Sunday night!” he laughs; “I’ve been Runner Up too many times so I know anything can happen. Until they read my name out at the presentation on Sunday night I wasn’t even confident I’d won!”
“Super Street is a really fundamental class and that’s why we do it,” adds Winterburn, “and with that in mind I think a lot of the changes being made, like the 10.00 cut-off, are a step in the right direction.” He adds, however, that the added cost of touring the country to compete may be adding pressure to some competitors. “Sportsman in Australia is growing; it’s almost big enough to put on its own show” he says in closing.