HOME TRACK EXCITEMENT: Drag racer Matthew McKnight, of the Insanity Racing team based at Rosewood. McKnight and his crew enjoyed meeting fans at today's Winternationals launch at Orion Shopping Centre.
HOME TRACK EXCITEMENT: Drag racer Matthew McKnight, of the Insanity Racing team based at Rosewood. McKnight and his crew enjoyed meeting fans at today's Winternationals launch at Orion Shopping Centre. Cordell Richardson

Why Winternats are 'Gold Logies of drag racing'

MOTORSPORT: When you're part of a dedicated local team on a limited budget, the annual Winternationals are the place to race.

Just ask Plainland competitor Matthew McKnight of the Rosewood-based Insanity Racing team.

"They are like the Gold Logies of drag racing. They don't get any bigger than this,'' McKnight said.

Having compared the hotly contested Winternationals to TV's night of nights, McKnight said winning the coveted Gold Christmas Tree was a highlight at the biggest drag racing meeting outside of North America.

More than 500 teams from Australia, New Zealand and the United States are lining up from June 6-9 at Willowbank Raceway.

McKnight and his crew were among the teams meeting fans and showcasing their incredible vehicles at today's official launch of the 52nd Gulf Western Oil Winternationals.

A number of high-powered dragsters, nitro-charged bikes and supercharged sedans were displayed at Orion Shopping Centre at Springfield, giving spectators a close-up look at the excitement machines.

The annual Winternationals are at the home track of competitors like McKnight.

"There's 37 cars in the Supercharged Outlaws category, which is what I compete in with this car and my teammates,'' he said.

Having grown up in the Redbank Plains area, McKnight has been racing at the Winternationals since 2000.

"I've been lucky enough to win it three times so far,'' he said.

Among his successes were in 2011 (Supercharged Outlaws) and in 2015 (in Super Street).

Having "always been an Ipswich boy'', McKnight enjoys contesting his bracket at the world-class Willowbank facility.

"We've been doing it for quite a few years but it's kind of far as you can go in the sport with the kind of budget that we've got,'' he said.

"You can go to bigger brackets and go faster but that's a lot more money.''

 

Katrina Brown with Elijah, 9, and Lily, 7 of Camira.
Katrina Brown with Elijah, 9, and Lily, 7 of Camira check out one of the high-powered drag racing vehicles on show. Cordell Richardson

McKnight highlighted how drag racing can be a sport for the extended family as much as the racers and their crew.

"On race day, we'll have up to six (crew) people work on the car, plus family, mum and dad and children (offering support),'' he said.

McKnight and some of his crew welcomed fans to have a closer look at the Insanity Racing team vehicles.

"We must have put 150 kids in the car today already,'' McKnight said.

"That's why we do it. The kids get involved and we get a photo. That's good.''

 

Wayne Daley with Ada Orszagh-Morine, 8.
Wayne Daley with keen eight-year-old onlooker Ada Orszagh-Morine at today's Winternationals launch. Cordell Richardson

Like all the racers preparing for next month's motorsport mecca, McKnight hopes to have stable conditions. Records are regularly broken at the Winternationals.

"The colder it is and the drier the air, then you're in for some fantastic racing,'' he said.

Main event

Tickets for next month's Winternationals are available at www. willowbankraceway.com.au

The categories include Top Fuel, Pro Alcohol, Pro Slammer, Pro Stock, Top Bike, Pro Stock Bike and 400 Thunder Sportsman brackets.