As the Sprintcar season at 7mate Northline Speedway heats up, it’s been great to see new blood come out onto the track for the 2018 season with father and son duo racing side by side with Ben Atkinson Senior and Junior who is 16 years old and making a huge jump from 6 years of Go-Karting experience into a 410 Sprintcar. The jump between sections was inevitable with Ben Jnr admitting there’s no doubt he has wanted to be a race car driver after the years he has spent watching his father race Sprintcars all across Australia. When asked outside of his dad, what other Sprintcar driver’s he looked up to, it was a quick response of “Donny Schatz, he’s my favourite driver” without hesitation, shortly followed by “Kyle Larson when he does get in a Sprintcar.”
With Ben Snr making his mark on many of the biggest races across Australia, we asked Ben Jnr what some of his bucket list races in Australia would be with the Classic, the Australian Title and the Scott Darley race making the top 3.
Ben Snr holding a huge support and fan base across Australia but specifically in his home town it is only expected that the fan base of Ben Atkinson Motorsport to double with Ben Junior stating that many of his friends are in awe and jealous of his opportunity to have Sprintcar racing as his weekend hobby but are all there to support him each weekend down at his local track.
Ben Snr explained that it had always been the plan to get Ben Jnr into a Sprintcar when he turned 16 to “give him a go and see if Sprintcar racing was for him.” When asked what the biggest challenge has been for Ben Atkinson Motorsport this year Ben Snr acknowledged that “preparing two race cars this year has been the biggest challenge for me, especially being that I had never planned to race this early in the season. It’s been a lot of work but other than that it’s been business as usual.”
Talking with them both about their plans for the future and the team, it was clear that there has already been a lot of planning and ideas suggested about plans to race both locally and interstate, with a full season committed in Sydney, followed by some races in Warrnambool and the Australian Title. Ben Snr explained they will look at some development rounds where Ben Junior can get some more experience under his belt between Ben Seniors full calendar of racing. Ben Snr suspects “if all goes well, we will look at what races we can get for Ben Junior in Sydney after Christmas.”
With the Sprintcar car count continuously growing and the estimated car count of 20 for the upcoming NT Title on the 10th of August, we asked Ben Jnr what has been some of his biggest learnings being in a field of experienced drivers so early in his career. Right now “I’m just focussed on trying to keep the car straight, and get as many laps under the belt as possible right now.” In further discussion about racing with large car counts and experience, Chariots of Thunder was raised as both drivers for the Ben Atkinson Motorsport team have nominated and how Ben Jnr was feeling about the upcoming event. Ben Jnr admitted he is “both excited and nervous, I wasn’t originally planning on doing until Dad thought I was ready, but we’ve nominated so I guess he has made up his mind and hopefully we can have a go with those big names and see what we can do.”
A confident Dad explained “I’m not really nervous about him within the field at Chariots, if he has a long future in racing Sprintcars, he is going to be racing these guys all the time, so he better get settled into fairly quickly if that’s what he wants to do.”
With over 20 years of racing experience, Ben Snr is clear on what sort of advice he wants to pass on to his son “being aware of what’s going on around you and studying other competitors and observing things like racing styles and racing lines.” But not only is he working with Jnr on the race craft but also understanding the “unwritten rules in the Sprintcar world” all of which with the sole purpose of ensuring Ben Junior is a respected competitor within the Sprintcar community as he continues his racing career.
On the topic of the Pope Challenge an prize money, Ben Jnr was eager to admit he would accept the Pope Challenge if he qualified, however a more reluctant Ben Snr further explained that “it’s a 50/50 deal, the field of cars we have it would be a very tough race to race from position 20 and win. It would need to be a decision on the night with many considerations.”
If there was one thing both of them agreed on was that any prize money won over the four night series would all go back into the race cars!
Ben Jnr admitted “I think it’s everyone’s dream to make Sprintcar racing a career, but I think we just need to wait and see what happens over the next couple of years and go from there…”
Don’t miss the father and son duo who will be back out on the track at the NT Title at 7mate Northline Speedway on Friday 10th of August and then over all four nights of the Ostojic Chariots of Thunder Sprintcar Series.