Kart drivers set to burn rubber
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THE biggest Go-Kart event this side of the black stump is set to get underway tomorrow with another year of record enteries.
The East Coast Over 40s titles have been gradually building over the last decade to become a feature event and during the week, the Coffs Harbour Kart track has been bursting at the seams with tents to hold the 241 entrants revving their engines over the long weekend.
Proof of the rapid growth of the event is that in 2004 only two drivers from Tasmania bothered to enter.
Last year that number grew to six but this weekend an amazing 17 entries have been received from the Apple Isle as Coffs Harbour's reputation as a top class facility continues to grow.
Phil Middleton from Windsor is returning for the fifth time and even though he has had plenty of success over the last two years at these titles, he admits that he'd keep coming back even if he didn't get any trophies.
"I just love the town, love the track and love the facilities here," he said.
"I couldn't get over the size of the fields when I first came and they're all over 40.
"It astounded me that there were so many people here with a common interest and the best thing is you're not racing against 18 year-olds with 18 year-old reflexes."
Middleton won last year's Clubman Super Heavy class after gaining pole position by winning the pre-final from eighth place on the grid.
From nine to five, Middleton runs his own transport business but when the Over 40s titles are on, his weekday worries are the last thing on his mind.
"When the Over 40s are on, the business can fold up, die or whatever," he joked.
"This has now turned into our holiday as the wife and the kids will be here on the weekend and then we have another week off."
In fact it's Middleton's wife that he can thank for his karting adventures after asking a serious question of her husband several years ago.
"When I was 39 my wife asked me 'You're turning 40, is there anything you want to do that you haven't done yet?'," Middleton explained.
"I said that 'I want to race go-karts and she thought that I'd better go and do it then."
With support like that behind him, Middleton is a good bet to grab a third title in as many years when the finals start on Sunday.