Heaton wins title, new wheels on the way
Liam Heaton at Fairbairn Speedway with his Toyota. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Canberra P-plater Liam Heaton hasn't received any speeding fines since getting his driver's licence, but there were no such fears at Fairbairn Speedway on Sunday when he won the ACT junior title.
It was the second last race for Heaton in his Toyota Corolla, with the 17-year-old coming to the end of his junior racing days and preparing to step up to late model racing.
His ultimate goal is to ''one day get paid to race'' with NASCAR.
There are tight restrictions on the cars raced by juniors; ''they must be under 1600cc, no more than 25 years old and they have to be, as far as the engine goes, in road trim - stock standard,'' according to Heaton's father, Russell, a former speedway champion himself.
''We can modify the suspension, and obviously we put the roll bars in them, the safety seat, seat belt, the kids wear a neck brace, we do all the safety gear in them, but basically it's just a Toyota Corolla shopping trolley that you find in your local car park.''
June 20 will be the last time Liam races his ''shopping trolley'', after which he'll work on adjusting to his new car, which is currently on its way from NASCAR territory in the United States.
''It's a completely new ballgame,'' Liam said. ''I'm going from front wheel, 100 kilowatt, right-hand drive car, to a rear wheel, 800 horsepower, left-hand drive car that's five and a half metres long as opposed to this [car] that's three metres long.''
The new car will increase his maximum speed to about 230 km/h, which is bad news for nervous mum Kirsten.
''I can't stand still or sit,'' she said of watching her son race. ''The first corner, I don't like that, that's where everything happens. It's a bit nervy but he does well.''
Liam has so far avoided any serious crashes in more than three years of racing junior sedans.
''I haven't actually flipped it, I've hit the wall twice … but that's the worst of it, thank God!''
That's been good news for his car too, which runs largely thanks to the support of some local companies. ''It certainly helps if you've got the sponsors to partner with you,'' Russell said.