April 14 2020
Welcome to the first edition of ‘Q&A with’ where we ask drivers and fans about their interest in Motorsport, their drive (if a driver) and their hopes for stock car racing in the future.
The first person to answer our questions is James Burge, James is currently racing in Stock Cars Australia driving the #711 Australian Power Services sponsored OzTruck and we’ve asked him questions on a range of subjects and we hope you will enjoy it.
If you are interested in participating in ‘Q&A with’ then please drop a line in the inbox of our FB page.
How did you get started in Motorsport?
I grew up watching skaifey winning with HRT, Rossi winning on a Yamaha and the more I watched the more I wanted to race myself, so my parents took me to a hire kart joint to see how I’d go and I went pretty well so I did the “kids karting club” hire kart championship and won that.
Then they bought me a realllly old Tony kart off eBay and we went and did out first kart race in junior national heavy.
I remember my first ever race I had to start last and I went into that first corner which was a hairpin right, in the wet, in a 20 year old junker thinking I was Ayrton Senna and I just sent it up the inside of everyone and sure enough spun like a gumbie and bogged it in the gravel.
What are the differences when it comes to driving Legend Cars, Formula Ford and OzTrucks?
The differences are huge! Formula Ford offer a fair bit of grip but they are very twitchy cause they’re light. Legend cars are unlike anything else, they’re just drift machines really cause they’re such a short wheelbase. You gotta drive them so smooth and sorta use the slide to flow the car and not scrub off any speed, massive time to be gained if you get your head around the brakes on a legend car.
Stock car is like a big boat, a lot of grip from the big slicks but it’s a lot of weight getting thrown about so you’ve gotta be smooth and gentle with them. You wanna try and keep them as planted as possible to minimise the weight transfer. The power from a stock car is awesome but jeez I wish they had some better brakes on them, they don’t stop at all.
What made Stock Cars Australia the series you wanted to be part of after your success in Legend Cars?
Well after winning everything in legend cars and the championship sorta went south with everything that happened with the AMRS I had basically accepted mentally that that was the end of the road for me, we made up our mind to sell the legend car and as far as I was concerned that was that.
Being in legend cars we’d gotten to know Zac and Dave O Hara and they’re just absolutely awesome fellas and we got on well but never had too much to do with them.
It was actually dad that came to me with the add for the OzTruck and said whatya reckon, I said jeez yeah I’ve seen that around at Wakefield and Sydney Motorsport Park and it’s an absolute beast but I thought it was out of our price range so never considered it as an option.
Next thing I know dad’s arranged to go and look at it and a week later it was ours and my racing dream was still alive haha. We honestly more bought the car for the car not to race in a certain championship but we’ve found a great home with Stock Cars Australia and we are very happy.
How did you become the proud owner of the #711 OzTruck?
I basically answered this in the question above haha
Did you feel any pressure in your SCA debut as you were driving an OzTruck that had been a frontrunner for years?
To be honest I feel pressure every time I get in a race car because I feel a responsibility to be fast. In terms of feeling pressure because the truck was a proven winner I was actually excited to see how I’d compare to Michael and Steve because I respect them a lot so I was just curious to see how I’d compare to them in terms of speed. So yes I felt pressure but I more so felt pressure to win because I’m me, it didn’t really have anything to do with what car I was driving. But as I said every time I go out I feel pressure cause I expect myself to win.
Earlier this year you were chasing down Stephen Chilby in a thrilling race at Wakefield Park, what do you think about when you’re chasing down another truck or car for the lead of a race?
Up until that last race the weekend had been an absolute disaster so for the first half of the race I was just focused on passing everyone cleanly and safely, once I passed everyone I wasn’t really thinking anything I just went as fast as I could, once I realised I was gonna catch him I started thinking about where I could pass him but with a stock car at Wakefield it’s very hard to pass cause it’s a tiny track really for such big cars and I knew Chilby wasn’t going to give it up easy.
So I went into the last lap thinking where I wanted to pass him but I couldn’t pull it off cause I would’ve hit him for sure so my only chance turned into the last corner and if you watch my onboard you’ll see he has a massive slide going onto the back straight and I thought here we go I’m on here and I knew I was going up the inside even if he hadn’t had the slide, so I was then just focused on trying to pull the car up but cause I couldn’t see the braking markers I didn’t realise how deep Chilby had gone and I was just waiting for him to break and basically as soon as I hit the brakes I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to pull it up, locked the rears and skated off…
Well for me my race prep is a constant thing, I go for a run with my dog every day and I do my exercises routine every second day. I try and jump on the simulator as often as I can but that’s more so just for fun. Race week I just make sure I’m eating well and I have all my race gear ready to go.In terms of prepping the car that’s often alot more time than just the week before as well. But the week before is basically just going over the car making sure everything is tight and ready to go so we don’t have to do anything when we get to the track except warm it up. But there is alot of work that goes into prepping the car and making sure it’s setup correct for whatever track were going to and stuff like that.What is the most enjoyable thing about being in Stock Cars Australia?
The people. Stock Cars Australia is basically one big family and I couldn’t ask or wish for a better bunch of people. It’s the people that make your weekend good or bad. That last round at Wakefield was probably my worst in a long time in terms of results and luck and mistakes and yet I still had a great weekend away because the people where awesome. It’s really made me enjoy my racing again.
What are your hopes for the future when it comes to stock car racing in Australia?
I would love to see the category grow with a few more cars. We know we are a grass roots kinda category but at the same time we wanna be taken seriously and put on a good show for the fans, sponsors, promoters etc.
I’d like to see a couple newer cars brought in from America to be sold here in Australia but as a category we don’t have the cash to buy a bunch of cars and stick them in a shed till they sell.
But I definitely wanna see the category continue to grow and gain respect and more followers and to travel to more tracks all around Australia.