Oily rag never smelled so good
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
WINNING a national title in the ultra competitive field of Formula Vee racing is difficult enough but try and do it using only a 10th of the budget that your opponents use and without a full-time crew to work on the engine.
Coffs Harbour's Nick Herford didn't just try to do it, he went to the National Final in Western Australia and actually managed to walk away with the title.
To top it off, he did it in only his first season.
"If someone would've said to me last year 'you're going to be the Australian champion', it would've been a case of no way, it's not going to happen," Herford said.
"Now I don't think there's any limit to what we can do, I really don't. We've matched the best and now we've beaten them and these are guys with $100,000 budgets.
"My engine was six race meetings old while the others had brand new engines."
By finishing second in the NSW Championship throughout the year, Herford easily qualified to go to the 'Aussies' at the Barbagallo track.
"It was a very fast track, we were doing about 180km/h down the back straight which is pretty quick for a Formula Vee," the national champ said.
"That's similar to a Eastern Creek kind of speed."
It was those sort of speeds that had the local drivers turning their heads in amazement from the very first time Herford hit the track.
"We were on the pace straight away," the 30-year-old driver said.
"We got there and basically wheeled the car off the plane and put it on the track and we asked the locals, who all had a big chip on their shoulders, 'what kind of lap times are quick around here?'
"One guy said 'I did one minute 12 seconds and I won the last race'. They said if we're in the 1:13's that'll be good.
"My second lap was a 1:11 flat and I didn't even know what way the track went. I was coming over one of the blind hills leaning up in my seat trying to find out where the track went.
"They immediately knew it was on. Basically I had 1:09's on tap whenever I needed it."
The impressive performances has meant that since winning the title Herford is now in the enviable position of having driving teams chasing his services.
"Offers from different teams have started to come through," Herford said.
"When I got back on the Wednesday, I logged on and I had three Formula Ford teams wanting to talk to me, a Porsche Carrera Cup team and a Formula 4000 team. So I've got those options open for next year where I basically jump in the car and they see if I can drive them."
Moving on to bigger and better things in the near future is certainly something that Herford has dreamed of.
"We want to move on," he said. "We will race the Formula Vee again next year to defend our title and we want to race at Indi next year which would mean a V8 light, Formula 3000 or the Porsche Cup. That's our direction for next year."